SEO Blog

Hummingbird: Get to grips with the new Google update

hummingbirdGoogle released their latest update right on it’s 15th birthday. What a great way to celebrate, rolling out a whole new algorithm which is the biggest change in 12 years! Google claim that Hummingbird will enable users to search more human related queries to deliver more accurate results.

Queries that are more long tail and conversational, so being in the SEO industry we have had to take a step back and take a look at how we can work with it to deliver results. Many other webmasters are saying Page Rank is dead, Link building is dead and SEO in general is dead…

This is far from the case links will still have a significant part to play in your SEO campaign but it more about choosing the links with most quality.

Shortly after Hummingbird Google released a new Penguin update which to me states that they are still working on determing spammy links therefore link building is still as important as ever.

So if you have survived Penguin before then you must be going down the right path in terms of building quality links with a range of anchor text to your site.

One thing that needs to be thought about by everyone in the SEO industry is that the way we write content needs to be revised. With hummingbird targeting more human based search queries this means our content must be more question and answer based.

No longer do we optimise content for certain short keywords but now long tail phrases are just as important. The way I would recommend writing content now is look at the niche and think if I was looking for a service in the niche what would I type into Google.

For example if I wanted to find out what the recent Google updates were instead of just searching for “recent Google updates” I would type in, “What are the recent Google updates?”. Conversational search is what Google claimed when releasing Hummingbird.

The future of SEO

Well I have had this theory for months now and I think the next big thing will be mobile SEO and SEO for tablet devices. We are seeing more search engines bringing out voice search and Google are the first to take advantage.

Also Google are set to release Google glass, which is an amazing piece of technology where you can search the web and browse just by simply conversation.

So is it a big coincidence that Google have released an update which relates to conversational search just before they release a hands free browsing device?

I think not…


Blog Post by Jordan Whitehead

Penguin 2.1: What Has Changed From 2.0?

Google have recently announced a new penguin update which is the fifth recording in its history. This update has come a bit earlier than predicted by most webmasters as it wasn’t long ago since Google had rolled out Penguin 2.0 in May.

As this is the fifth edition of the Penguin update we are now more equipped and have a better understanding on how it works and what to look out for. Basically, the Penguin update searches for links which are deemed manipulative to the link guidelines.

Penguin 2.1

Links such as paid or low quality, this can include aggressive link exchanges and a great number of links with an optimised anchor text. Spammy links is the best way to describe this.

When announced on Twitter by Matt Cutts, the head of the webspam team at Google, he stated that the Penguin 2.1 would affect 1% of search queries to a ‘noticeable degree’. It has the ability to endulge deeper pages within a website to investigate potential spam activities.

Now many people believe that Google have altered the Penguin update so that it can work alongside Hummingbird, another seperate algorithm Google have released. This new algorithm has the ability to investigate more complex search queries, mainly for voice search on mobile devices.

Penguin 2.1 is part of Hummingbird and my prediction is that Google will continue to update Penguin until they have the balance they want between the two algorithms.

Not only have the algorithms have changed but ‘coinsidently’ Google analytics has had a makeover. New features have been added to monitor more behavioural changes and social statistics. In my opinion this is a clear clue in what Google want you to focus on.

Link building since Penguin has been trickier than it has ever been but it is still not dead. This has been a great discussion in the SEO world with people thinking that link building no longer has a place in SEO. This is not the case as links are still valuable. It is what links you point to your website what matter now and not the number.

Content will always be king in my opinion but now you have to find the balance of what content you put on your site. It needs to be useful to the user and appealing, content you want your target audience to enjoy.

As you can see there has been a lot of fundamental changes with Google this month but remember it is all for a reason. That is quality search results to the user, having content and links which will be useful to the reader is key.

Along with a big social media presence, Google can see you are sharing and engaging your content with as many other people as possible which is the main aim.


Blog Post by Jordan Whitehead

The Great Debate: Nofollow Links vs Dofollow

The art of link building has changed a lot the past couple of years with the number of updates Google have rolled out. Nofollow and Dofollow links now have different jobs and should be interpreted in specific areas according to Google.

This debate has been going on since the birth of SEO with webmasters discussing which links were better. Obviously dofollow links pass on pagerank which can only perform better when it comes to rankings.

But now it is not all about dofollow as people started buying tons and tons of these kind of links and dominating the SERPs which angered fellow natural white hat webmasters. Google had to do something about this as quality is key now and people who have done all natural SEO techniques were dropping like flies.

nofollow vs dofollow

After a couple of amendments to the algorithms, Google recommended that you should add nofollow links to some areas of your link profile such as widgets and paid advertisements. They then came out and said that nofollow links will not harm your website unless you are spamming at a huge scale.

Which is fair enough really, if you are a blogger and you are engaging on a topic on a blog relevant to yours then Google cannot penalise you for that. This move also ensures that webmasters need to create a natural link profile with a mixture of nofollow and dofollow links.

So bear that in mind for your link building campaign if you have too many of either dofollow or no follow it will not look natural to the algorithm and therefore increase the risk of you being harmed.

Many webmasters think that nofollow links should not have a say in society and should be disavowed but that is not the case and will do more harm than good. If you think about it, what links are Facebook, Twitter, Linked In and Google Plus? No follow…

In summary both types of links prevent spam from happening on a big scale but they also do different jobs in determining page rank. I personally think that Google use nofollow links to counter act or soften the blow a little for websites that are trying to rank against websites with a high number of dofollow links.


Blog Post by Jordan Whitehead

Happy Birthday Google!: Google celebrates its 15th birthday

googles birthdayYes that is correct it is 15 years to the day since Larry Page and Sergey Brin formed the biggest internet organisation the world has ever known. 15 years of advanced search quality on the internet and safely saying they have revolutionised the web to a whole new level!

But is it exactly 15 years to the to the day though? If you search Google on wikipedia it states that they were formed on the 4th September 1998 not the 27th

This is all down to the great debate back in 2005, Yahoo came out and announced that their index was substantially larger than Google’s. This in terms gave Google a fright at the time as no one had ever come out before and made such an announcement.

It sparked what is known today as the great debate between the two search giants. After some clever PR work from Google they then announced that for their birthday they have gotten bigger and a few other fundamentals to ensure they were kings of the size wars.

Of course back then it was all about size and not quality. More about reputation rather than user experience which now is no longer the case.

After this debate had been resolved Google officially announced its birthday was the 27th September (when they wanted it basically).


How did Google celebrate?

Just like all the other birthdays they have had they release a doodle, this year it was a Mexican piñata game (30 is my highest score). Also another really cool feature Google have rolled out for this celebration is the very first search engine they developed back in 1998 just type in “Google in 1998” and see for yourselves.

googles pinata

They also announced which for me was more than a coincidence a new search algorithm update named “Hummingbird” (named after being fast and precise apparently) which will affect 90% of English search queries! Yes that is correct 90%!

I will be going into more detail about this bold statement and more about what the new update is going to be all about and what factors we can take into consideration to stop any penalisation.


Blog Post by Jordan Whitehead

Tumblr: Using Tumblr for your SEO Strategy

tumblrTumblr is a highly underrated micro blogging platform which gets ignored by many people who do SEO. Maybe some of the points I am going to tell you may just change your mind on this.

What is Tumblr

First of all as mentioned, it is a micro blogging platform which have many social functionalities. Features such as shares, likes, hashtags and follows all feature with Tumblr, a good way to describe it is from a Takeshi Young analogy is it is a cross between WordPress and Facebook.

Did you know?

  • Tumblr has over 130 million blogs online;
  • 300 million unique monthly visitors;
  • It has the 28th highest traffic online.

Also did you know WordPress only has 70 million blogs online (well, I say only…) compared to the 130 million on Tumblr. As you can see there is an amazing amount of traffic to be claimed through these statistics.

Tumblr SEO

Now the part you have all been waiting for, what features does Tumblr have which can help with SEO? Well where do I start, as we all know what we mainly need in SEO is two things… Content and backlinks! Tumblr can generate mass amounts of both in quick succession.

Links on Tumblr are dofollow, yes that is right you read that bit correctly! To gain these dofollow links all you need to do is post content onto your blog and optimise you would a website. It gives you the opportunity to add custom html (for your keyword anchor text), customise your URLs, add alt tags to images and tags to your posts.

Once you post your optimised content, depending on how appealing it is to the audience the amount of “reblogs” that post gets then that is how many dofollow backlinks you can create. What is more easier than that?

What kind of content?

The content must be appealing and humour the audience, no post should just contain a load of text with a number of links. It should include attractive content, images, videos, memes and gifs all relating to your niche. If the user finds this interesting and fun to read then they will reblog it. Check out this U2 meme;  u2 meme



















Blog Post by Jordan Whitehead

Possible Google Update: Has There Been Another Algorithm Update?

This came as quite a shock to me when I noticed that many webmasters were grumbling about a recent dip in both traffic and rankings. This instantly told me to check the algorithm movement with programs such as Mozcast and Algoroo and the date that stood out from the rest was the 20th August;

algorithm movement

As you can say the fluctuation has been a lot more aggressive after this date even the very latest date is above average. This does suggest to me and many other people in the industry that some sort of algorithmic update is being at least worked on by Google.

As you may have probably guessed Google have stated they have nothing to announce despite the evidence.

This again leaves us guessing to what will be next and what websites will be most affected. Google don’t always confirm there updates but there have definitely been some big fluctuations in the SERPs and in traffic.

Are we in for another Penguin update? It would be a surprise to many as it wasn’t long ago since Google rolled out the Penguin 2.0 update.

Or are they trying to repair the possible mistakes they have made to the previous update, again it is all theories and we will never know until Google come out openly and announce it. The best thing we can do at the moment is monitor our websites closely for any dramatic changes and then compare them with other sites which have been affected by this bizarre movement.

It is always a good idea to track the movements of Google’s algorithm with programs such as Mozcast, Algoroo and SERP Metrics. These are effective tools which develop patterns of the algorithm activities, basically it gives you a bit of a heads up if we do encounter any new updates.

Research online for other peoples views on this recent movement and get there take on the situation, this can be very useful as they might be doing something different which has got them penalised and you know to avoid it.

It is still extremely important to continue what you are doing even in the middle of any update (if you have not been penalised) as you want to still appear natural, keeping content unique and relevant to your website with natural links and social activities should help maintain your website through the update, it might even jump depending on how your competitors are affected.

Blog Post by Jordan Whitehead

Page Rank: What Exactly is PageRank?

page rank


PageRank was developed by the people who founded Google, Larry Page and Sergey Brin. They had the idea when they realised that search engines ranked websites strictly from keyword density and meta tags.

This is when they decided to come up with PageRank to eliminate this and put a theory together to get more valuable pages ranked. PageRank is named after Larry Page.

What is PageRank?

For less technical people, the easiest way to describe page rank is the level of trust the website has with Google on a 0-10 scale. To gain trust, they believed that for a website to be classed as valuable and resourceful for the user and is down to other websites linking to that page.

Which is feasible in a sense as when people are writing content they tend to link to pages which have the best resources. Therefore that page which is being linked to from a number of pages is deemed valuable.

So Larry and Sergey developed this link analysis algorithm which determines not just the quantity of links but also the importance and relevance of the web page which is linking to you.

The way they explained this is that a link is like a vote for your web page and the more votes, the more importance of the page and therefore the higher your page rank.

For a new web page your PageRank is set to N/A and will stay this way until Google has crawled and indexed the web page’s backlinks. It will then determine through relevance, importance and number of links what page rank it will be.

The importance of PageRank

The PageRank algorithm is just one of many ranking factors in Google. This is debatable as some webmasters believe that PageRank is the most important factor, whilst others believe it is on the way out.

PageRank can be used as a guide for link building so you have an idea of a website that is deemed valuable and trusted in Google’s eyes.

Obvioulsy if there is a high PR website relevant to your website then build a link to it, this will be a valuable ‘vote’.

To increase the page rank of your web page, then follow the webmaster guidelines on linking. In these guidelines it states certain techniques which are deemed black hat and try to manipulate PageRank will be penalised.

Hence why Google release regular updates such as Panda and Penguin.


Blog Post by Jordan Whitehead

Tiered Link Building: Grey Hat or White Hat?

Tiered link building image.After the Penguin 2.0 update link building changed dramatically, webmasters started to structure their links a lot more. This is called tiered link building; this is when you have backlinks pointing to backlinks which pass on link juice through the tiers and eventually onto your money site.

This form of link building has created a debate for quite some time whether it is grey hat or a white hat technique, it totally depends on how you carry out the process. If you were to create everything manually with unique content then this surely is white hat. Whilst the other side of SEO aka the spammers will use black hat methods such as spinning articles and various submitting tools to speed up the process.

Tiered link building explained

So in the midst of these tiers is your money site (the main website you want to rank), it is important that your many money website is optimised onsite first. This is crucial in creating an effective link building campaign without this it will make the campaign a lot slower and difficult to rank.

Tier 1: The first tier is the only tier which links to your website so links, anchor text content all need to be relevant and unique. It will also need to be a high authority site which links to your website as these carry more power. It is recommended that the first tier should consist of high authoritative web 2.0 sites such as .wordpress, blogger, squidoo, hubpages etc as these need to gain page rank to pass onto your website. Again fresh content needs to fill out these to create high quality backlinks pointing to your money site.

Tier 2: This is the tier in which you link to your first tier so here we will start to use the link building techniques that we are all associated with today such as blog comments, wiki submissions, press releases and social bookmarks. Your second tier is crucial in building the page rank to your high authoritative tier 1 links and there for increasing link power to your main website. They are lower quality than tier 1 but more quantity.

Tier 3: This consists of all the other forms of backlinking which some people consider to be spam and others thing otherwise. These consist of directories, blog comments, articles etc these will be built in large quantities.

In summary tiered link building should have the desired effect to rank well. The tiers create a protective outer layer of your main money site keeping it safe if any penalisation does occur.

Blog Post by Jordan Whitehead

Mobile SEO: What You Need to Know

mobile SEONowadays you hear very less of computer and laptops but more of smart phone and tablet devices. Many people in SEO say this is the future of SEO meaning we have to change our approach to these campaigns! It all starts from the design of your website and making it not just mobile friendly but also user friendly (this is crucial). This means your website will have to be responsive in order to be successful for mobile SEO.


When it comes to content for your mobile SEO campaign, you have two options. You can use the content on your current desktop site or you can change content to target better conversions related to mobile searches.

To find this you may have to do some research via your Google analytics and see what mobile visitors are searching for to find your website. Then write content and optimise for these new phrases which are likely to have a better conversion rate.

Evaluating the best type of website for mobile SEO

If you have an ecommerce website, then the mobile SEO will not be most effective for you just yet as a recent stat from Google stated that 35% of mobile visitors last year made an online purchase. We have seen the internet advance in quick succession and as people get used to mobile web browsing then this figure will increase in time.

Another reason why ecommerce is not as effective as a desktop site is that many big companies such as Argos, Amazon and eBay use mobile apps which are more user friendly and conversion rate is much higher.

What techniques will change for mobile SEO?

All answers to this question are all theory based just like desktop SEO. We will know right from wrong but we will all get different results which is the beauty of SEO. Although we do know that the design of the mobile website will have more of an impact than desktop versions. Things such as page speed and navigation being some factors. As most mobiles and tablet devices are now touch screen it is important that the links do not over cross one another and they are perfect size.

Also adding things like click to call, makes the site very user friendly and easy to use. Another factor will to make sure the site is fully functional such as 404 errors and broken links need to be fixed, just like the desktop websites.

As you can see there are know clear signs which we can see which will have an effect on mobiles and tablet devices. It is all about the user and the design of the mobile site, making sure the user has a good experience and if you have unique content which targets the better conversion phrases plus being as social as possible then this should give you a head start from the rest of your competitors who are not doing mobile marketing.

Blog Post by Jordan Whitehead

Bounce Rate: Keeping your hard worked traffic on your website

bounce rateBounce rate is a statistic used in website traffic analysis which is a vital stat used by many online marketers. It is the percentage of the overall traffic to your website which bounce straight off  without visiting any other internal pages and many people believe it can count towards a ranking factor to search engines.

People assume this because search engines want their users to have the best experience and if a website has a high amount of bounces, this is telling them that users are not having a good experience with that specific website. People in SEO usually blame the web designers…

Lowering your bounce rate

If you are using some sort of advertisements such as Google AdSense to monetise your website then it is worth evaluating where the best place is to put them. You don’t want the adverts to close to the menu as this could lead to accidental clicks and frustrate the user causing them to leave your website.

Is your website user friendly?

This is another factor you can consider when wanting to lower your bounce rate, can people easily navigate through the website. Easy navigation can prevent users from frustration and therefore bouncing off, having your site links accessible and easy to locate can be effective.

Responsive Website Design

You can do anything with website design now with advanced programming languages, this means you can start making responsive websites which causes the users to engage more. Also, as more and more people use the internet on their smartphones and tablet devices it is important that the website is compatible with all these devices.

Link Bait

Link Bait is one of the most common features which people include on their website to prevent high bounce rate. It is a feature built into a website which grabs the audiences attention straight away and encourages people to link to the website.

As you can see the main cause of bounce rate is down to users either being confused or do not like the look of the website. The key to low bounce rate is grabbing the attention of the audience and keeping them engaged for as long as possible and these tips can do just that.

Blog Post by Jordan Whitehead