Top 5 WordPress Plugins to Improve On-Site Search

The website pages do not load as fast as they should be — this is the most common problem for web designers. Such a flaw may cause sales to decline. It’s really concerning to marketers as buyers become less patient. This is especially true for people who use mobile devices. If consumers do not see the page loaded after a maximum of 2-3 seconds, they click “back” in the browser or close the window.

Of course, most incidents affect the effectiveness of sales. To fix such flaws, the developers suggest installing a variety of plugins that improve the attractiveness of the web resource, including on-site search tools. In addition, your site’s position in Google results also depends to some extent on loading speed. So, such a problem has to be solved somehow. We will talk about this in our article.

Best Products & Tips for Use

On sites with a lot of pages, the searching bar is becoming more important. Marketers are confident that any slowdown in loading speeds will negatively affect the customer experience and reduce the purchase likelihood. While navigation is useful, it is the search bar that will provide the user with the most viewed content. So, no developer can do without plugins and other tools. Created for different programming languages, such add-ons may differ in essence and characteristics. Here are the most popular products for those who prefer WordPress:

#1. Ajax Search

This is the best plugin that helps shoppers find products in an online store. Most consumers want to see results in 2-3 seconds. With Ajax Search, they certainly won’t be disappointed. It’s a highly customisable product — people can display thumbnails, icons, prices, and promotions with real-time results. This bar can also be added to various categories or store pages. Besides, the Ajax plugin runs on multilingual platforms.

With Ajax Search, people can find products or SKUs. This tool displays prices, images, and descriptions along with an “Add to Cart” button that pops up right into the form. Although this sometimes has the opposite effect and makes it harder to work with the platform. To keep it simple, website caching can be configured to save all pages to disk as static files for faster display. Such a method is best for hosting based on fast SSD drives.

#2. SearchWP

In these golden days, when the market is saturated with goods, and the competition is getting tougher every year, a variety of tools and techniques are very useful for online sales. SearchWP is the most common custom bar for stores based on WordPress. Installing such an add-on is definitely the right step. This tool allows all site visitors and moderators to search for a keyword in the post/page title, different content. Besides, people can customise it in categories, articles or visual content, tags, and even comments. This significantly speeds up page loading. The same goes for snippets or taxonomies.

Of course, the installation of the SearchWP is a good solution for most websites. This is confirmed by dozens of reviews from developers and aspiring entrepreneurs. Such a tool offers the best features and it is affordable for any business. SearchWP is compatible with WooCommerce that makes the promotion of all products extremely effective. Although to use the add-on correctly, people will have to tinker a little with the settings.

Developers offer to control the algorithm by using numbers from 1 to 10 (with 10 being the highest) for all types of content. Such customisation makes it easier to filter pages and monitor the activity. SearchWP is very effective for forums, crypto exchanges like ICOholder, and other platforms. Upon activation, this plugin will automatically index all content that was previously published on the web resource and replace the default engine that integrates into all WordPress web resources.

#3. ElasticPress

It’s another popular search service for WordPress that is based on ElasticSearch. Such a tool performs cloud searches through third-party platforms and shows results at lightning speed. Installing ElasticPress is the best way to increase visitor engagement. Such a plugin provides detailed information about search behaviour. This means that the store owners — by analysing the activity — will be able to draw conclusions about the effectiveness of SEO. The ElasticPress is easy to use and can be integrated into any WordPress website. Among the main advantages of the product:

  • Faster, more accurate search
  • Friendly interface
  • Flexible customisation
  • Versatility

This system instantly shows results when users start typing. So if you have hundreds of pages on your online store, this plugin will come in handy. Such functionality works well on any WooCommerce platform.

#4. Ivory Bar

The Ivory is a common WordPress plugin available for free. Providing excellent capabilities for both the managers and buyers, a universal tool helps to increase sales. This bar is installed by over 10,000 users. With such a platform, people can create new custom forms as well as integrate the bar into any part of the code.

If you want to buy it, there are two options to choose from: Pro Plan starts at $19.99 annually or as a lifetime license for $99.99. With an easy-to-use search builder, people can customise content to suit specific requirements. This tool offers pages grouping and autocompletes as well as instant results, JavaScript, or API integration.

#5. WP Google Bar

If you are looking for a free solution with the highest performance, this is the best version. By installing WP Google, people can replace the default functionality with a custom tool. Setting all parameters is simplified as much as possible:

  • The first step is to create a Google Custom Bar for your website.
  • After that, developers must copy the engine ID and paste it into the bar settings.

This tool ranks all results by relevance, not date. This means all visitors will see content that is in line with marketing trends. Most sites run this bar without any problems since the functionality is very flexible.

In Summary

Since search tools are the backbone of any web resource, it makes sense to install a plugin that delivers advanced functionality on your site. It is the best way for marketers to track analytics and consumer behaviour. Any search bar is key for sales funnel or usability. Take a look at sites like eBay or Amazon to make sure that the problems that we have covered in this article are relevant.

 

Nathan da Silva - Profile

Posted by: Nathan da Silva

Nathan is the Founder of Silva Web Designs. He is passionate about web development, website design and basically anything digital related. His main expertise is with WordPress, Magento, Shopify as well as many other frameworks. Whether you need responsive design, SEO, speed optimisation or anything else in the world of digital then get in touch. If you would like to work with Nathan, simply drop him an email at [email protected]

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Why User Experience Is Vital for Quality SEO

There was a time when search engine optimization (SEO) was all about backlinking and keyword stuffing. Not anymore. These days, Google is increasingly focused on your site’s overall user experience (UX). Let’s take a closer look at why UX matters for SEO. 

User experience (UX) quality, which includes making your site easy to navigate and producing regular engaging content, has become one of the top factors in getting high Google rankings. Stuffing your text with keywords and building backlinks are not effective SEO strategies anymore. Whether you’ve got an eCommerce shop selling lampshades, or an online casino with games like Sizzling Hot, Google is most interested in how your visitors interact with the content. Not convinced yet? Then check out this article. We’ll go through the top reasons why user experience plays a role in search engine rankings. And we’ll also share advice on how to improve your position. Let’s get started.

Google Gets Smarter Every Day

There used to be a time when user experience for SEO was pretty irrelevant. Google was primarily interested in how connected your content was with the keyword typed into the search bar. Plus, the search engine determined your trustworthiness by the number of reputable sites linking to you. But in 2021, Google got a new tool to pick the top search results: the RankBrain algorithm. And one of the primary criteria this machine learning system detects is the user experience on a website. It measures over 150 factors of user behaviour, including session duration and pages per session. If your videos and posts do not tailor to your customers’ searches, the user experience is not good, and visitors won’t explore deeper into your website. That causes a high bounce rate, and RankBrain informs Google about it. As a result, you get a lower rank.

Improving the User Experience via Better Content

So, how to enhance the user experience? It all starts with giving your visitors comprehensive content that answers 100% to what they’re searching for. That creates a positive experience that’s good for your business. And it’s also beneficial for Google because satisfied users are likely to use Google for their new searches. Unfortunately, a big chunk of content on the web is reiterated, rehashed, stuffed with keywords, and offers very little value to the customer. These uninspired and uninformative writings do no good for Google’s reputation if the search engine ranks them high.

How to Improve Your Content

To create valuable content, you need to step into your customers’ shoes for a minute and think about what they are hoping to find when searching for a specific keyword. If, for example, they type in “dog grooming,” they don’t want to read a general article about pets with the keyword “dog grooming” stuffed in every paragraph. A comprehensive guide on the best ways to groom a specific breed of dog will be much more valuable. Or a detailed comparison of the best grooming products for dogs with lots of hair.

Making sure your information is specific and relevant is only the first step in keeping your audience’s interest. For the best user experience and the highest rankings, you need to go further. Share unique stories about your brand, provide ingenious industry-specific solutions, publish highly relevant case studies, etc. The aim is to offer people something your competitors don’t have. That’ll make them stay on your site longer, and it improves your SEO.

businessman loudspeaker

Site Navigation – Keep It Simple

Does your website have overly complex navigation? That can cause plenty of confusion for users and increase the time it takes to complete their tasks. And nobody is likely to return to a site that takes too much of their time.

So if possible, keep the number of pages low, and organise them in a user-friendly way. That means having a simple short menu, making sure your search box works, having zero error pages, and clearly divided categories. All this will also help Google understand what your site is about, which can improve your rankings.

Headings to Identify Content – Use Them

The thing is that before people read your posts, they will check the headings of the content to see if it provides an answer to what they’re searching for. So having titles using H2-H6 (H1 should be preserved for the title only) tags point the reader quickly to the information that interests them. Plus, Google crawlers interpret your content based on H2 tags.

Make the Pages Load as Fast as Possible

Regardless of how engaging your site is, the user experience with slow loading pages will always be a nightmare. More than half of consumers will leave the website immediately if it takes more than 3(!) seconds to load. So choose a fast web-host server, clean up your code, compress images, and do everything possible to make the pages load super fast.

Make Your Website Mobile-Friendly

Everybody has a smartphone these days, so mobile-friendliness is a must in providing the best user experience. Pay attention to how variables like images, text, and overall layout of your page translate to a mobile screen. Keeping everything clear and to the point improves your site’s usability and, therefore, its Google ranking.

Test Your UX Efforts

The best way to gain user experience knowledge and understand how it affects your SEO is to A/B test every new feature. Come up with at least two variations for every UX improvement you’re planning to make. For example, if you’re going to make your text bigger, try both a medium and a large letter size. Testing allows you to see which variables drive more engagement, get more clicks, and ultimately, get you a higher Google rank.

mobile app ux apps cellphone

Conclusion

The bottom line is this: user experience will affect Google ratings. Their primary aim is to give their users relevant and easily accessible results. That goal has helped Google become the number one search engine on the internet with a consistently growing user base. And since user experience is important to Google, easy site navigation, valuable content, mobile-friendliness, and fast loading times can all help you rank higher in the search results. So start improving your UX today, and effective SEO will follow.

Have you enhanced the user experience for your eCommerce site lately? Let us know what impact it had on your Google ratings.

Posted by: Darrell Rios

Darrell Rios is a former journalist and owner of several local shops. Now in his spare time he writes about business and entrepreneurship, as he has extensive experience in organising startups and business analytics.

 

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Why Your Business Needs SEO in 2020 – 10 Reasons to Invest in SEO

We’ve put together a pros list with essentials tips to understand why your business needs SEO in 2020, whether it’s in the future or just in general.

1. SEO Offers Long-Lasting Results for a Business

SEO is a long-term strategy which will bring you long-term benefits. It has a noticeable impact on your business. You probably heard or maybe you’ve asked yourself this question: “How long will it take me to get ranked #1 for my keywords?”. I’ve seen lots of business owners and companies that start doing search engine optimisation and, after a month or two, they just give up and say “SEO doesn’t work” or “We didn’t get the results we needed to justify the cost.”

If you start a new website, it is important to know that you’ll see results in approximately 6 to 12 months. It might seem a big period of time for some, but if done correctly, it will keep your website on SERP and the results you get can last for years. This can have high SEO importance for small businesses that are struggling to succeed.

If you have had a business for some time, then you know how important it is to keep your portfolio and generate conversions. Having search visibility is a great asset for achieving results. SEO can help you by offering visibility in SERP and afterwards with monetary results, but you have to invest in it – time and money.

There are lots of factors that should be taken into consideration when we think about SEO. You need expertise and a feasible plan to achieve SEO success

SEO is and will be a good investment for an online business, which brings us to the next point.

2. You’ll Receive Impressive ROI

SEO brings a great return on investment if you have a healthy budget and an on-going process. Don’t set unrealistic expectations. Budget 6 to 12 months of SEO, otherwise you risk losing money, and you’d better use that budget for something else. Paying for just a few months won’t bring you the results you’re longing about and you’d be like throwing money outside the window.

An investment in SEO is an investment in your business’ future. SEO can bring in about 15 times more clicks than PPC advertising. It is a long-term strategy, as we’ve mentioned before, and it shouldn’t be seen as an immediate way of generating sales. A long-haul plan will bring you a return on investment because SEO is an online marketing strategy with one of the best ROIs.

It might be hard to calculate ROI, but you have lots of analytics you can track and evaluate your goals. Even so, organic SEO is way more powerful than other online marketing tactics, even stronger than paid search ads. SEO is about 5.66 times better than paid search.

The results in the first months of using SEO might be awfully small. But after the 6th month, things start to soar. You’d have to wait until the big leads come pouring, and you’ll need SEO for that.

3. Organic Search Is Often Times the Primary Source of Traffic

Organic search is accountable for a huge part of a website traffic source. Lots of studies strengthen the value of organic search and its importance. Around 51% of all website traffic comes from organic search and only 10% from paid search, 5% for social, and 34% of all other sources.

Search visibility is a great asset and Google owns a significantly larger piece of the search market than competitors such as Yahoo, Bing, Baidu, Yandex, DuckDuckGo, and other more. We all know the importance of a trusted website; a website that everybody likes is always liked by Google. Quality and constant website optimisation will keep the website as a trusted source by Google and be qualified as a good ranking position on the first page of the search engine results.

There are over 40,000 search queries every second on average on Google, which means 3.5 billion searches per day.

4. SEO Can Be Cheaper Than Other Paid Search Strategies

It can be cheap if we take into consideration a 6-month plan. For SEO you need to invest a lot more money in the first phase, compared to other paid advertising methods where you have to pay from month to month if you want to keep receiving traffic on your website.

Paid search marketing, compared to search engine optimisation, has a shorter time for returning conversion, but your business should invest to see results. As long as you keep paying for results, you’ll get them, which in the long term is not so equitable as SEO.

SEO converts more efficiently, SEM has more speed. Search engine marketing includes every form of paid advertising for your business. Lots of people don’t invest in search engine optimisation because it is expensive at first and desire to look for cheaper alternatives that unfortunately don’t have continuity and stability.

SEO has leverage on improving search engine visibility at a cheaper cost than SEM. The first one is a true investment in your business’ future and not a marketing cost.

5. SEO Is Quantifiable

SEO will provide lots of analytics data for your website. The only struggle you’ll encounter is pulling the data yourself and making decisions for improving your results. It might be a little tricky to understand the data and you’ll have to chew on it more before taking any actions. Any good SEO practitioner will start by finding the rotten data from the pile, which shouldn’t be a big challenge.

There are tools that can help you keep track of your website’s performance. Google Search Console provides data regarding pages that have the best performance, mobile issues regarding your content on-site, indexability.

Google Analytics gives all sorts of data regarding your website and third-party apps if connected. You can see information about:

  • your audience: what they like, what they read and so on;
  • traffic sources & other channels of collecting users: different websites, paid ads, paid search, social and more;
  • viewed content and behavioural actions on site: most clicked pages, particular events.

On top of these two tools, you can opt-in for SEO tools, that show lots of other features such as authority pages, competition ranking, linking situation, on-site errors, duplicate content, slow page speed, content marketing gaps, lack of mobile-friendliness and so much more. Mobile traffic has experienced high growth in the last years. You shouldn’t forget about these elements if you want to grow your business.

A proper way to start would be to make a site audit, then look at the traffic that comes your way and check those pages to see if you need to improve them or redirect the link if the content is obsolete. Next on the agenda would be backlinks evaluation and competitive analysis. So start with on-site technicalities, then move to SEO off-site elements.

6. SEO Offers Credibility and Trust to Your Audience

2020 for sure means trust and credibility more than ever, with the latest migration to HTTPS. That means the goal of SEO should be to build trust and credibility to Google, to the user. User experience and SEO together mean business success. In the old days of SEO, it was simpler to rank by taking all sort of shortcuts. Now, the internet user plays one of the most important roles. You need to know your target audiences very well and to fuel their appeal for your brand to build authority. That way you’ll have the opportunity to quantify your marketing efforts.

Everybody wants traffic, trust, and credibility, but few people really know that UX is involved in this process. If you gain trust and credibility, your website will earn authority, but authority doesn’t come easy. And for that, you need to offer valuable information, have a clean and easy-to-use website. It takes time, patience, effort to make your audience trust your brand and the content you provide. Every business growth needs UX in their lead generation strategy.

Website design such as easy navigation and intuitive site structure are a starting point for creating user-friendly websites. It is very important to have relevant content and description for each section of your menu and every page that you have. Speak the language of the user and don’t try to change the wheel on the natural funnel process otherwise, the user will feel disoriented.

Effective SEO relies on three pillars: authority, relevance and trust. Google has something called the Trust Factor, which is a combination of lots of factors that calculate how trustful a site is. The more trustful a site is, the more likely articles will be ranked higher on Google. A website is considered to be less trustful because it has harmful and/or has low-quality content.

If you want to see how trusted your website is, there are tools that can tell you on a scale from 0 to 100. For example, Majestic Trust Flow is such a metric which is weighted by the number of clicks from a seed set of trusted sites to a given URL, or Domain.

7. Voice Search Keeps Growing and You Need Higher Visibility in Search

Voice search has increased tremendously in the last few years. Even studies showed that. Mary Meeker’ annual Internet Trends report shows that voice search queries are now 35 times larger than they were in 2008 (when voice search was launched).

There’s no doubt that voice search has had accelerated growth and will become even bigger in 2020. Lots of brands developed voice search technologies for assistant apps that listen to the user and give audio results based on their queries.

SoundHound, an audio and speech recognition company has found 4 categories of voice search queries:

  • Personal assistant: that includes to-do lists, scheduled meetings and all sorts of events, texting, calling on the phone plus other day-to-day activities.
  • Fun and entertainment: buying and listening to music, searching movies, TV series and similar actions.
  • General information: web search, news, publications, and similar media.
  • Local information: searching for restaurants, hotels, and places near-by, traffic jams.

You need to make your audience more aware of your brand and make them hear about you more often. It will help you by raising your brand awareness and get further benefits such as authority, traffic, revenue. When implementing SEO is very important to know your users, to connect with them and make them recognise you by the particularity that you have. This way you’ll be memorable and breed brand recall, so you get more customers to stick with your brand. You need to make them always look and search for you.

8. You Can Push Your Audience Down the Funnel With the Right Type of Content

SEO starts right at TOFU, which is not food. It means the top of the funnel. You might make a correlation with food, and think of it as an appetiser. Because SEO is in the first league, where your audience is. You have to attract a large portion of users right from the start, and then push them down the funnel through the middle of the funnel (MOFU) and bottom of the funnel (BOFU) by using other techniques.

In the first phase of the buying cycle, the user lands on our page and you have to maintain them thereby offering valuable content and useful information. So the process of search optimisation starts with keyword research, understanding your audience, learning their language. There are other technical SEO elements that should be taken into consideration, such as high loading speed, high quality and lossless images, mobile-friendly website, un-broken pages and so on.

9. You Can Get More Customers and More Traffic with Local SEO

If we’re talking about the reasons why you need to invest in SEO, then local optimisation should be on the list. Due to the increase of mobile searches and voice searches, local SEO has started to dominate the SEO trends. Now, it became mandatory for every online business.

Searching for any business location on maps helps the user have more trust and knowledge of your business. It can get to you faster and receive recognition through reviews.

Google My Business is a great way to start your local search engine optimisation process. There you can add NAP (name, address, phone) information and you can connect your website, link a social account, add pictures and a lot more.

For example, you have a restaurant near the stadium in Madrid and one of your customers is visiting the stadium and afterwards decides to eat. Then they look for a place that they like nearby him and end up in your restaurant.

You can use local optimisation for your blog and search for local keywords to include in your articles and also to boost your rankings by targeting top positions in Google. If you are targeting for a specific location, then use the Keyword Tool and Content Assistant, which is very simple and easy. For example, if you are targeting real estate school and your business location is Chicago there are two situations:

  • If you want to target only the people from Chicago or who are in Chicago, my recommendation would be to choose the “real estate school” and set the local tracking.
  • In case you want to target other cities besides Chicago, you should choose the option to track “real estate school in Chicago” so you’ll see all the searches made from other cities.

10. You Can Get New Opportunities for Your Business

High-quality SEO can bring you lots of possibilities for building a better business and a bigger brand. Not only will you improve your business, but you’ll also make it sparkle.

When people understand your brand due to a quality search engine optimisation process then you reached a new phase in your business growth. If you have a well-known brand, people will search for you, share your content, ask for guest-post and contact you for collaborations. It can become a love mark, a concept that is used when brand loyalty goes beyond reason. And to create a love mark you need great stories that trigger sensorial effects which goes beyond the monitor. It is also important to demonstrate commitment and empathy to the audience.

Conclusion

SEO is an important part of any inbound marketing plan because it helps people find (then share) your content. A business should invest in SEO to get the desired results.

Implementing quality SEO has lots of benefits for your business, no matter how big or small it is. It will always be beneficial to make the most of your SEO and increase the opportunities to grow. Comparing to other paid search tactics, SEO has the guarantee of a long-term relationship. You’ll invest, and get the results for a more extended period. You don’t have to pump money to keep it going. If done correctly, it will go on by itself.

For some further reading, you can research How To Develop a Profitable Digital Marketing Sales Funnel.

 

Nathan da Silva - Profile

Posted by: Nathan da Silva

Nathan is the Founder of Silva Web Designs. He is passionate about web development, website design and basically anything digital related. His main expertise is with WordPress, Magento, Shopify as well as many other frameworks. Whether you need responsive design, SEO, speed optimisation or anything else in the world of digital then get in touch. If you would like to work with Nathan, simply drop him an email at [email protected]

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What do I need to know about buying backlinks in 2020?

Have you ever had someone say to you that they’ve had a sudden decrease in rankings on their website? Everyone wants to rank on the first page for certain keywords on the search engine results page (SERP), and if you’ve been there before, you’ll realize how impactful this is on traffic and revenue coming through to your website.

There are various reasons why this could happen, more commonly because of the use of low-quality or bad backlinks which can be considered as spam. These low-quality links are usually caused by website owners purchasing backlinks for their website. If you consider the amount of time, effort and money people have to make to build website traffic, a sudden negative impact due to poor backlinks is known to disrupt the operation of their business, both mentally and financially for that matter.

Before we get started, we’re going to mention a great tool we like to use to monitor the performance of our website called Moz. You can also download their browser extension here which makes it easier to analyse your domain. What this will do is provide a score for your domain, and you will receive a score for DA, PA and it will give you a spam score as well.

PA & DA stand for Page Authority and Domain Authority, respectively. These are numeric metrics which are both scored out of 100. Quite often, they are used to see how search engines see the strength of backlinks by a particular URL. However, Google does not use PA or DA as ranking methods. From this information though, you can think of Moz as a third-party metrics to get an idea of what your PageRank might look like.

There are similar link-graph metrics from other third-party tools as well such as:

  • Ahrefs DR & UR
  • Domain Rating & URL Rating
  • Majestics TF & CF
  • TrustFlow & CitationFlow

Which ones should you use? Well, it all comes down to personal preference. Some SEO’s use these metrics, some don’t trust link-graph metrics at all or think they’re useless.

Personally, we prefer Ahrefs & Majestic metrics as we’ve worked at a web-host previously and got a taste for the scale of different bots in practice. Moz doesn’t actually crawl that much. Ahrefs & Majestic have a much larger crawl infrastructure, so I would trust them more… But again, the choice is down to you!

You can read more about Link Building on one of our previous posts here.

So, what are backlinks anyway?

Backlinks are links from one website to another website. Google and other search engines consider backlinks as a vote of authenticity. Basically, if another website links to you, it means that website is giving you a ‘vote of trust’. If you have thousands of backlinks linking to your website, this ‘could’ increase the worth of the page in the eyes of any search engine. One thing you have to understand though is that a few backlinks from reputable websites are going to be worth a lot more than several links from unreputable sites. How can we determine if a site is reputable? Well as we mentioned before, we can use certain tools to get an idea of how ‘worthy’ a backlink is.

Let’s look at Facebook for example:

Facebook, at the time of writing, has a PA of 100 (perfecto!), DA of 96, 1,601,867,432 backlinks, and only a spam score of 1%. Pretty incredible right?

Since the advent of the search engines and the rise of Google, backlinks have remained instrumental in ranking the website. Despite regular changes in the search engine algorithms, experts still regard the number of quality backlinks as one of the most important factors of any website.

That being said, how did backlinks become of such great importance for a website? It wasn’t always like this but here is a bit of history of backlinks.

History of Backlinks

Once upon a time ago, search engines such as AskJeeves, Yahoo, AOL, Excite amongst a few others dominated the search landscape. For this reason, developers of search engines were always trying to find a way in which they could rank websites based on the quality of information that appeared on that website. In the beginning, search engines started by ranking websites based on the number of keywords for the particular website.

In these golden days, whenever somebody searched for something, the top-ranking web page on search engines would be pages that had the most relevant keywords to that particular keyword search. Let’s say you were to search for ‘Website Design’, this would normally rank a web page based on the number of keywords for Web Design and similar terms for a particular page. What was the issue? Well, this method of ranking led developers to do things such as ‘keyword stuffing’. What this means is that a lot of people would then stuff their website with hundreds of keywords on every page of their website just to gain priority (or even a top-ranking) on search engines for a particular search term. What this meant was that a lot of low-quality websites would start appearing quite highly ranked up even if the website wasn’t even about that given topic, crazy right?

Not only that, but to keep the look and feel of a web site, people were actually hiding these keywords, placing them off then screen (let’s say like 9999px to the left) just to get a higher ranking and increased web traffic.

This is when Google first came into the spotlight back in 1998. Their objective was to change how the information is presented to the user in search listings. Over time, Google started putting more emphasis on backlinks instead of keywords. Why? Well, there were obviously some flaws before and it’s not quite as easy to ask other website owners to link to a particular page on your website; because of this, the number of backlinks was a preferred method over keywords and other factors.

It was a very wise thing to do: if you look at big companies such as Apple, Amazon, CNN, and so on, they all had one major thing in common. They had thousands of backlinks. For Google, this was an awesome start as people were then shown information from authority websites that had more relevant information based on their search terms.

Over time, people were also finding ‘hacks’ to gain a higher ranking. This resulted in business owners purchasing backlinks from companies that could sell them in bulk and given more emphasis on keywords (with a link to their website) that people wanted to rank for. As a result of this, it once again became possible to climb up the search engine ladder and reaching the top page once again quite easily.

This obviously challenged Google to address another problem. What they did to tackle this was that they started blacklisting websites, decreasing their rank, or in more severe situations, just outright blocking the website. This meant a lot of websites suddenly noticed a massive decrease in their rankings.

For some websites, it meant losing thousands of pounds of revenue for just a single day’s operation. For others, it meant restarting their journey from the ground up again. Even today, Google and other prominent search engines are proactively changing their search algorithms to stop website owners from dodging the system.

To get a better idea of how you can rank for SEO these days, you should check out this blog post: The 4 best SEO practices for 2020 and beyond.

So, should I buy Backlinks?

Well, since Google and many other search engines now put a huge emphasis on backlinks, it’s quite obvious that many website owners will feel pressured into buying them.

They continue to buy them because it saves a lot of time and helps them get results faster. But there is a problem here…

Google and other search engines will eventually catch on to this, which can lead to their website becoming penalised which can even lead to established websites becoming bankrupt because of this.

Google does have some clear guidelines regarding link-building schemes. These guidelines are regularly published by SEO companies and experts who try to steer people away from buying backlinks. Unfortunately, some website owners don’t take any notice of this, assuming it’s just a quick and easy (lazy) way of attracting customers to their website.

What you should look into prior to this is having a look at what Google says about buying backlinks (aka; link schemes):

Buying or selling links that pass PageRank. This includes exchanging money for links, or posts that contain links; exchanging goods or services for links, or sending someone a “free” product in exchange for them writing about it and including a link.

Funnily enough, one of the first things Google mentions in its guidelines is related to link schemes and how it prohibits the buying and selling of backlinks. Exchanging money for links and generating excessive link exchanges where other sites link to others in an excessive manner is banned by Google. Should they discover that you have bought links, it WILL severely penalise your website without any given reason. Google is very clever, don’t underestimate their power.

If this does happen to you, you’ll be stuck in a pretty sticky predicament: you will be left without anywhere to go. The only thing you can do is to contact Google using their webmaster tool and hope that there will be a reply. While Google is not known for replying to such queries, consider yourself lucky if your website is restored at a later stage… very lucky indeed!

Don’t just take our word for it though, a quick Google search will tell you that most people lose their minds trying to recover from such a situation. The most practical way of recovering from this is to remove the ‘bad links’, which will ultimately restore the website a lot quicker. If you don’t have access to websites to remove such links, you should consider using Google’s Disavow Links Tool. What this does is allow publishers to tell Google that they don’t want certain links from external sites to be considered as part of Google’s system of counting links to rank web sites. It can take some time to recover, but this tool can be very useful. We spoke about Moz earlier and how they provide a spam score by a percentage. With this tool, you can actually see which links are considered spam. From this, we can include such links into our Disavow tool to regain the desired 0% spam score.

To get a general idea of how impactful search engines like Google take automated backlinks into account, they actually initiate nearly 400,000 manual actions every month. Besides the manual actions, thousands of websites are often hit by Google algorithm updates, which are specifically designed to stop low-quality websites from popping up in the search radar.

What can we take from this? Well, for any website owner, it is clear that search engines are actively monitoring low-quality backlinks and spam issues, so you always need to be very careful! Buying backlinks is an easy strategy, but is it worth the risk? Definitely not.

Here are some truths about Backlinks…

Google and other search engines DO NOT promote link building. If you’re quite new to the wonderful world of SEO, this surely might sound confusing or contradictive as backlinking is widely used to promote the SEO of your website.

Despite what Google suggests, SEO experts have proven that backlinks are a huge factor in terms of higher page rank. Over time, this fact has been proven on a variety of occasions. For this reason, if someone tells you that link building is not important, they probably don’t have a clue what they are talking about.

Nothing against Google, and if the truth were told, if I were one of Google’s executives or the owner of an emerging search engine, I would probably do the same. After all, there are reasons to continue focusing on all aspects of your website, which DO include high-quality backlinks.

What should we focus on then?

High Quality Backlinks

Backlinks are not always ‘equal’. What we mean here is that there are high-quality backlinks and low-quality. A high-quality backlink is most likely a link from an authoritative and legitimate website. However, a low-quality backlink is generally one from a low ranked website, a spam website, or a link exchange.

What we mean here is that you should not simply focus on the total number of backlinks you have, but instead, focus on the overall quality of backlinks you have. For example, we would rather have 10 quality backlinks (where the PA and DA are very high), than 200 low-quality backlinks from unreputable or spammy websites. In fact, these low-quality backlinks can actually lower your overall ranking on SERP’s.

Let’s cover: Do Follow vs. No Follow Links

What is a do follow link?

A do follow Link is a hyperlink that is able to tell all search engines to pass along its page rank influence to an outbound link.

What is a no follow link?

A no follow link is exactly the opposite of a do follow link. It is a hyperlink that removes the ability to pass on its page rank status to other sites.

Before we begin setting up a link building campaign, it’s very important to understand the difference between a follow and a no follow link.

A history of backlinks suggests that a “do follow” link is the most important type of link because it will count towards the authority of your website. On the other side, search engines will only give link juice to a “do follow” link. For this reason, if you have let’s say; 100 links that have a “do follow” attribute, search engines will count all of those 100 links towards the ranking of that particular page. However, if you have backlinks with a “no follow” attribute, it will simply ignore or give very little juice to an external website. You can read more about this from Neil Patel on his blog post: Should You Waste Time and Money on Nofollow Links? Here’s a Final Answer. When it comes to SEO, he’s the guru, we 100% recommend subscribing to his mail list, you will gather so much knowledge on SEO it’s unreal.

Anyway, the “no follow” attribute was originally introduced to reduce spam. How? Well, before lots of people were deliberately leaving links on Wiki pages, and high valued forums that quite often pointed to low-quality websites. These links did not help the web site owners because you could literally go to a lot of websites and add a backlink to your own website.

The solution to this was creating the ‘no follow’ attribute. You can read more about this here. These days, most websites such as Wikipedia, forums, and any commenting system will only allow “no follow” links that do not count as votes. As a result, it helps fight spam.

If these “no follow” links don’t count towards the ranking of a website, then what’s the point in building such links right?

While “no follow” links may not count as a vote, it can definitely get you a lot of traffic if placed on an authoritative website. With the passage of time, hundreds of these no follow links can build a regular stream of referral traffic that will continue non-stop. It means that you will not need to put any effort after placing the link because the link will bring automatic traffic to your website.

In the end, it always helps to build a mix of no follow and do follow links. Even when you’re using an SEO professional to rank your website, ask them if they know about the proportion of do follow vs. no follow links.

To conclude…

We have discovered now how search engines have evolved over time. In the olden days, we could rank for websites using a variety of keywords to gain traffic, stuff pages with thousands of keywords, and gain a load of traffic. Well, we can’t do that anymore, search engines have evolved and we now know that we can get severely penalised for using such techniques. This can go the same way with buying backlinks… If you get caught, you will get penalised, it’s as simple as that. There are cases where people have been fortunate to get away with it and even try and find loopholes around this to make it safer, we won’t mention these techniques but you have to ask yourself the question: Is it worth it?

For us, we’re pretty happy gaining backlinks from websites we build (i.e. by adding Developed by Silva Web Designs in the footer) and if anyone mentions one of our articles in their blog posts, then awesome! We tend to concentrate on several other SEO techniques as well. We won’t list them all but this includes SEO best practices, like only having one h1 tag per page, optimising all images and improving the page speed which can be checked using tools such as Google’s PageSpeed Insights or another one we like to use; GTMetrix.

There are other ways to gain traffic depending on your budget as well such as Google Ads. How this works is like an auction system: Google Ads, aka Google AdWords, is Google’s advertising system in which advertisers bid on certain keywords in order for their clickable ads to appear in Google’s search results. Since advertisers have to pay for these clicks, this is how Google makes money from search. Not only Google of course, but generating traffic to your website may also gain revenue, so if the ROI (return of investment) is worth it, it’s definitely a great tool to use.

If you have any questions in regards to this article, feel free to get in touch or leave a comment below.

 

Nathan da Silva - Profile

Posted by: Nathan da Silva

Nathan is the Founder of Silva Web Designs. He is passionate about web development, website design and basically anything digital related. His main expertise is with WordPress, Magento, Shopify as well as many other frameworks. Whether you need responsive design, SEO, speed optimisation or anything else in the world of digital then get in touch. If you would like to work with Nathan, simply drop him an email at [email protected]

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