I'm an NZ SEO expert, doing SEO in New Zealand

by Peter WM
SEO Expert NZ

My first job in search engine optimisation was in 1997. So much has changed - SEO is more nuanced than ever before, with every character, every comma having an effect.

In addition to writing about SEO and speaking at various conferences, I enjoy actioning it myself too. There's nothing quite like sending a client a graph showing their organic traffic skyrocketing - without them having to increase their monthly spend.

Don’t forget your menu titles!
by Peter WM
September 20, 2018

Search Engine Optimisation has LOTS of components to it. We know Google uses more than 200 metrics to determine a website’s rank, but some of those are their haystacks to find needles in: consider that a site’s speed is a single metric among 200, but setting that up correctly takes hours.

Similarly an oft overlooked, but important, things to do for a site’s SEO is to set menu titles. Each menu item can have a title attribute associated with it, and all the major search engines love to see those.

<a href="/seo" title="Search Engine Optimisation">SEO</a>

That’s a good example of menu titles in practice for SEO. The link itself is just ‘SEO’, which is nice and concise for a menu.

But the title attribute has, that search engines see, is ‘SEO Search Engine Optimisation NZ’.

It’s clear to search engines the title attribute is related to menu name (and hopefully also that page’s content) which means it’s perfectly reasonable to add a few other related keywords, in this case the acronym’s meaning.

It’s this sort of attention to detail in SEO that makes all the difference. The most important SEO is always the SEO your competitors aren’t doing.

At first glance that headline probably seems so obvious as to be pointless.

But I would say around 50% of all the sites I’m asked to SEO have social icons, that link to nothing.

Including a swathe of social information is really useful for search engine optimisation – SEO doesn’t happen in a vacuum, there’s a quid pro quo relationship with social networks too.

But icons that link to nothing just look bad. And this mistake is really common, lots of WordPress themes come with fields to help you easily add social networks – but that can also make the easy to overlook.

It’s mightily common to see site’s where the developer just stuck a hash (#) in the social fields, then neglected forgot to add the proper profile URLs in.

Always double check everything before launching a site: the links, the permalinks, image optimisation and SEO setup.

Sure the most obvious thing is how the website looks and what it says, but in many ways it’s the smaller things that really determine how successful a website will be.

I do a lot of my SEO work with Google’s systems; their Search Console system (which used to be called Webmaster Tools) is the best place for official Google search stats, I report using client’s rankings within Google, and in most people’s minds ‘google’ is synonymous with search anyway.

But it’s not the search engine I use for my own searches. That’s DuckDuckGo.

I’ve long been more than a little concerned about the privacy issues that surround Google. DuckDuckGo solves a lot of those for me – they don’t track users, searches, etc.

But the very things I love about it are the same things I don’t. With all it’s tracking Google gives us a hell of a lot of convenience. For example DuckDuckGo doesn’t know where I am. One the one hand, yay. On the other – they’re unable to give me relevant searches based on my location.

The less they know about me the less useful they are.

A blank slate search every time I search is great for privacy, but it’s definitely less efficient.

For now I’ll keep erring on the side of privacy. The things I know big data does with my information scares me. Let alone all the other things I don’t.

Noindex your policy pages
by Peter WM
August 26, 2018

You need policy pages on your site, the GDPR made sure you can’t do business with any country in Europe without complying to a bunch of related regulations.

But you don’t want Google or other search engines scanning them.

I’ll repeat my favourite search engine optimisation refrain:

At its most basic, SEO is all about reinforcing your core content with search engines.

We’re distilling core messages to then feed to search engines in the format they’re looking for. So it’s important our message is clear.

Policy pages (cookie, privacy policies, etc.) are very rarely about the same subject as your site. They’re legal boilerplate, not helping to reinforce your product or service.

In many cases (depending on how you sourced them) they’ll be nearly identical to other policy pages on the web too – with just small changes like the name of your company swapped out.

So don’t muddy the waters with them; mark them as noindex.

Google-friendly SEO works
by Peter WM
August 20, 2018

That’s a hell of a graph.

But also not unusual.

This is what I do. My approach to SEO is entirely based on what we know the search engines want us to do. I don’t try to trick them or do anything that’s going to harm your rank down the line.

By matching Google’s ethos I can plan ahead, making sure changes they make improve your ranking.

This graph shows the impressions (number of times appearing in search results) of one of my recent clients. The dotted line is before I did any work with them. The solid line starts when I delivered their SEO – and you can probably tell for yourself the date when Google first reindexed the site afterwards.

BOOM!

Chrome displays warnings for non-HTTPS urls
by Peter WM
August 19, 2018

They did tell us they were going to do it. And they have.

True to their word, the latest version of the Chrome browser shows a warning message in the URL bar if a website you’re visiting is not served over HTTPS.

There’s been good reason from an SEO perspective for years to have a secure site, but now there’s a UX (user experience) one too – you really don’t want visitors seeing a ‘Not secure’ message.

This marks quite a big step in Google’s ongoing desire to see the web be more secure. Previously you just got a positive thing for being on HTTPS (the green padlock), but now there’s a penalty for not being secure as well.

I’ve found my version of Firefox has followed suit too.

It’s not hard moving your site onto HTTPS, you just need an SSL certificate (usually available from your webhost) and to set your site to use it.

SEO NZ sales funnel
by Peter WM
August 13, 2018

One of the nice things about entering a new market (we’ve only just started offering our services in NZ) is you get to play with your marketing systems.

Right now I’m working on an SEO specific sales funnel for New Zealand, with benefits for all campaign clients that grow until they get a 100% free service.

We’ve built a really strong SEO marketing presence in the UK, but would love to dominate Aotearoa.

These days though it’s not enough to be great at what you do. You have to present it properly to get it taken up – and that’s what this plan is all about.

I’ve written a new post on Purple Web Marketing NZ about best practice for sourcing images for your site, including some specific links to useful sources, and basic licensing information.

It’s also got a very brief section on image use and SEO, along with a fun story of that really fun time a copyright troll tried to sue one of my clients.

It’s a comma, and…?
by Peter WM
August 8, 2018

The Oxford comma. A comma before an ‘and’, but also incredibly divisive.

But there is one place the Oxford comma never belongs – in your meta tags. In my work in SEO I see a bunch of people using them in description tags in particular.

But as a rule of thumb, the more commas in your SEO meta tags the worse off you’re going to be. Search Engines (and Google is pretty up-front about this) see commas in light of the old keyword meta tags – as a way to list keywords in a list.

Description tags are really meant to be in sentence structure. And the more commas you have the more likely your page is to trip search engine’s keyword stuffing alarms. 🚨

However you feel about the Oxford comma, it has no place in your search engine optimisation.

My First Gutenberg Post
by Peter WM
August 7, 2018

I’m writing this post in the new Gutenberg editor for WordPress. Currently it’s just a plugin, but come WordPress version 5 (and we’re currently incredibly close to that at 4.9.8) it will be the standard system for editing.

While I’ve been looking into how it might work with backwards compatibility, how new fangled ‘blocks’ will be programmed (rather than relying on plugins for things that impact content), at this very early stage I’m considering what Gutenberg is.

It’s not just a page builder replacement or anything like that, rather it’s intended to change the way we create content.

With Gutenberg, WordPress is wanting to become the place you create content. Not just copying and pasting from other documents, but creating your content (and eventually, with future releases, your layouts too) directly within WordPress.

You may have been doing that already, but the majority of my clients and I work collaboratively on cloud-based document software that I then stick into their posts & pages.

When you first look at the blocks built in to the current plugin version there’s a few surprises in this regard – each paragraph is it’s own block, each headline – even bullet points are a block type of their own.

But the blocks flow freely from one to another – right now I’m typing paragraphs and just hitting ‘enter’ after each automatically starts a new paragraph block so I can continue typing without clicking to create a new paragraph each time.

There are a few default formatting blocks too which should be useful, one of which is the old style Tiny MCE editor, which I assume is mostly there for backwards compatibility but should also help a fair few developers breath a sigh of relief – this whole Gutenberg experience can be much more of a transition rather than a ‘line in the sand’.

Personally, with my very limited experience thus far, I think it will ultimately be a good thing. But we’re all going to be changing a lot of our internal processes, plugin/block libraries etc. to accommodate.