8 Point Checklist For SEO in 2015 – Revisiting The 2014 Updates

Most important SEO Checklist – SEO in 2015

So 2014 has been an incredibly powerful year bringing loads of changes in the SEO-verse. First, it was the Panda that reigned terror on websites with thin content, and then came the Authorship Drop followed by the mighty Pigeon that was focused on websites trying to rank locally. Soon after the Pigeon drop, Google unleashed the HTTPS signal which gave a slight boost to websites that had an SSL certificate and as if ranking on the SERPs was not hard enough, finally came the Penguin, which completely smashed illegitimate link building tactics. Don’t worry if you have missed any of these updates in 2014 as I will be giving a brief about them in some time.

Through these years of battling cyber-conspiracies of unethical SEO tactics and fraudulent schemes, Google has been pretty stern in manipulating its algorithms constantly so as to give fair-play an edge over the already overloaded blackhat tactics. The question that was asked in 2012 and also in 2013 and 2014 remains the same – “Is Google bent on killing the SEO?”, “Is SEO dead in 2015?”, “Will SEO agencies die down eventually?”

My answer to all these questions is a “No, NO, NO!”

In 2013 as well as 2014, Google has taken some really tough steps to fight spam, which has completely altered the landscape on which professional SEO’s built their strategies. Time has come to bid adieu to thousands of blackhat SEO agencies and agents who have caused quite a lot of damage already to websites that really deserved to rank. Let’s hope for a brighter 2015 and YES! SEO will never die. The people who manipulate SEO will gradually get eliminated. 

As the year’s pass, the need for being online has never been stronger and even though the Internet landscape is gradually shifting and becoming far too competitive than it was yesterday, it is never too late to join the battle.


And you give me one reason why your brand doesn’t need to be here?

SEO is not about buying backlinks (the more the better), in fact, it never was. SEO is about a strategist mind that works around the clock to decipher Google’s next moves and respond to them with utmost precision. So as you have already anticipated, the game will go on but the rules are a bit different this time.

Related Articles:

Beware Online Pirates, Google’s New Pirate Update Is Infallible

Google Penguin 3.0 Algorithm – A Massive Blow To Manipulative Tactics

Google Page Rank Is No More! Which Metric Is Next In Google’s Vision?

Google’s Latest HTTPs as Ranking Factor – A Marketing Ploy or Tech Revolution?

Google Pigeon Algorithm – Most Significant Changes To Ranking Signal

A Beginner’s Guide to Google Schema Markup



Looking at the Google trends of the past few years – The search giant always launches a few tweaks in algorithms every once in a while, but the basic essence always remains the same. And every time around, the tweaks that are made, just make the previous strategies a bit more focused.

Brands that are aware of this constantly changing ball game keep a steady eye on their link profiles and Trust-Flow and Citation Flow and always disavow links that appear to add no legitimate weight to the authority of their website. This should also be your focus in 2015.

So, if you are thinking of making an action plan for your 2015 SEO, you better be well versed with all the changes Google made in 2014. A proper understanding of all the Algos is required so let’s do a quick recap of them in chronological order.

Starting from Earliest to Latest Algorithmic Updates

google algorithm changes seo

## Google EMD Update.

Also known as Google Exact Match Domain Update. Though this update was released in 2012 and did not get a buff in 2014, it is still very relevant and is a must-watch for in 2015. This update was focused on preventing low-quality websites which had exact search terms in their domain names and also very poor content. If this update happens, websites that have improved their content and also worked on their architecture will receive a buff in their rankings, and websites that fail to abide by the guidelines will be penalized as usual.

##Page Layout No.3 – February 6, 2014.

Google released their Page Layout update for the third time. This update is also known as the “Top Heavy” Update which focuses on penalizing websites that have too many advertisements above the fold. These websites are normally made as advertisement traps so that visitors end up clicking on one of the advertisements which generate revenue for the websites.

## Panda 4.0 No. 26 – May 19, 2014.

This is one of Google’s most lethal weapons for cutting down low-quality content websites from the SERP’s. Google frequently updates and releases a sibling of this powerful algorithm which has put millions of websites around the Internet out of the Search Engine Result scope.

## Authorship Photo Drop – June 28, 2014.

John Mueller announced on June 25th that Google will be dropping all Authorship photos from the Search Engines which were connected to the Google Plus profiles. Though Google has unlinked the Authorship Markup it is giving a lot of importance to Google+ mentions and links, so consider keeping your Google+ Profile regularly updated.

## Pigeon Algorithm – July 24, 2014.

This algorithm release shook the landscape for all websites which were trying to rank hard for Local search. Google commented that the Pigeon update played a key role in binding the local algorithm with the core algorithm.

## HTTPS/SSL Update – August 6, 2014.

After a long time, Google came out of the closet and said that they would be giving a slight ranking boost to secured websites which had SSL certificates. They also stressed the point that though the boost would be small to start with, they would scale it up to a stronger ranking signal if the changes were positive. Consider getting your website SSL certified in 2015.

panda-penguin## Panda 4.1 No. 27 – September 23, 2014.

Another slow panda rollout just 4 months after the last rollout. Due to the slow nature of this rollout, the exact start date for the algorithm change is unclear but it did have an impact on 3-5% of the search queries.

## Penguin 3.0 – October 17, 2014.

That previous Penguin 2.1 update was released more than a year back, so Penguin 3.0 was the much-anticipated algorithm refresh from Google in a long time. This update was spread out in weeks and had been a very slow rollout. It aimed at penalizing websites with unethical or manipulative link building tactics.

## Pirate 2.0 – October 21, 2014.

This was another attempt from search giant Google to fight software and digital piracy. It had been more than two years since Google launched the DMCA/Pirate Update and it was a much needed release that caused dramatic ranking drops for a small group of piracy-related websites and torrent projects.

Keeping the Jargon Aside, Let’s Look At Simple Things That You Can Do Now To Make A Difference in 2015

Google is constantly fidgeting with its Algorithms as you can see. Sometimes it rolls out updates of the same Algorithms in an interval of few months. Don’t be fooled by the hype – the more Google updates its search engine software the more holistic the field of SEO is becoming. Even if you inculcate these tiny practices, they are going to make a big difference in your search rankings in 2015.

  1. Content is Be All and End All. 

Did you notice that Google rolled out two versions of the Panda algorithm in 2014? That also in an interval of 4 months. This is a clear signal that Google is laying complete emphasis on filtering spammy and low quality content from high-quality and graduate-level content. Google search algorithms strive hard to differentiate the bad and irrelevant content and deliver only the most appropriate results to the searcher. So double-check the content you put up on your website.

  1. Social Engagement In The Key. 

social media integration e1421259383265

Do you even need an explanation for this? We know how stringent the rule book is becoming. As Google strives to deliver the most authoritative and relevant information to humans, it is much likely that it will soon start giving even more weight to Social reach and Social Media Interactions like Likes, Shares, Tweets, Pins, etc. If you have not stepped into the Social Media Platforms yet, then by all means make it a point to do so in 2015 – It’s never too late.

  1. Casual Search Queries 

Though we did not see the Humming Bird update in 2014, in 2013 it brought in quite a lot of changes to the way Google interpreted search queries. The most notable change was the way Search Engines started interpreting casual search queries. Search engines started laying more emphasis on the way the queries were entered by not just focusing on the main keywords but the meaning of the whole phrase.

So as a webmaster, you should not focus blindly on generating backlinks. Instead, focus on obtaining backlinks from sources that have high authority and are already trustworthy in the eyes of Google. Also, ensure that the anchor texts that link back to your website are more casual and natural instead of just keyword focused. Double check the content in your website and ensure that the content is meaningful and has a shareable nature. 

  1. Deviating from Traditional Links to Brands References


I don’t want you to think that Inbound Links are worthless in 2015. They are still the most powerful signals that Google will take into consideration to rank a website, but as I have already mentioned before – the tricks of this trade are going to change a lot.

It is a no brainer that the big fishes in the market have enough money to spend on getting “High Quality”, authoritative backlinks to their website, and judging by the way Google released the Penguin 3.0 update in 2014,  it is safe to conclude that Google will also start taking into consideration the amount of “Brand Mentions / References” across the web of your brand without any linkbacks. This keeping a balance between Brand Mentions and Inbound Links will be the key to ranking in 2015.

The ideal strategy here would be to make sure all your backlinks appear to be as natural as possible and have a variety of Anchor texts. If you have been building links from a list of Keywords as anchor texts via insignificant websites, Google will recognize the correlation between the same and may penalize your website. So unless you want to wait another year or till the next Penguin update, it would be wise to do a thorough backlink analysis of your website and disavow all the low quality backlinks. By all means, take the help of a professional SEO to do so.

  1. Responsive Design And User Interaction 

According to statistics, 3 out of every 10 people in the world own a smartphone, Phablet, or a Tablet – Give me one reason why you should not care to make your website responsive in 2015 if you have not done it already.

40% of the searches conducted online are done through smartphones and tablets and with the increased presence of such devices in our lives this ratio has been on an upward curve. Focus on making your website structured for proper visibility on devices of different sizes. With increased user interaction of your website, the bounce rate of your website will decrease, which is a good signal for search engine bots that ultimately rank your website.

8 Point SEO Checklist For 2015

As we discussed earlier, 2014 has been a very dramatic year in terms of Algorithmic changes. Google unleashed the Penguin, Panda, and Pigeon Updates along with myriad other small and very significant changes to the ranking signal like HTTPs protocol and Conversational Search Queries. Due to these updates and changes the entire SEO landscape has changed.

I have prepared a checklist of things that you must watch out for along with negative practices which you should avoid at all costs to dodge the Google hammer in 2015 and also be in the Search Engine Trust list.

1# Search Engine Visibility 

Alike every single year, this metrics will remain the same only a bit amplified than before. Before you get into the High Quality Content, Social Media Integration, and other such routines, it is important that you make your website discoverable.

What You Should Do?

Have clean website architecture and ensure that all important pages (main categories) are reachable from your Homepage. Also, make sure that you use a logical structure for your websites where your inner pages are carefully tucked under the right categories. Make good use of Breadcrumbs and also Paginate those pages of your website which are too long to scroll.

NOTE: Your Websites URL should reflect your Websites Architecture.

Example of Good Website Architecture:



What You Should Not Do?

If the important pages of your website are not visible from the Homepage that is a very bad signal. Not only will this increase the bounce rate of your website, but it will also render the visitors incapable of finding the things they are looking for.

NOTE: Always have a Search Box at the top of your Website.

Don’t unnecessarily cram a lot of subpages into one category, while leaving the others with very thin content. Break your information down into smaller subcategories if needed. Another malpractice that I see a lot of newbies making is that they try to link all the inner pages of their website from the Homepage itself. This is a clear signal of information overload and the visitors will get too confused.

Remember this human tendency – If a man is given too many choices, he opts for no choice at all.

2# XML Sitemaps and RSS Feeds Are Must 

To ensure faster and proper indexing, you must befriend XML Sitemaps and RSS Feeds. If you are unaware of what XML Sitemaps or RSS Feeds are, I have defined them below.

XML Sitemaps: These act like the sitemaps of your website, which direct the search engine spiders in the proper direction to ensure that all the pages of your websites are properly indexed.

RSS Feeds: RSS Feeds, also known as Atom Feeds are also a great way of informing search engines about the fresh content at your website. RSS Feeds are most often used by content curators and Journalists or Blog Followers who want to keep track of regular updates on a website.

What You Should Do? 

Always ensure that you have submitted your XML sitemap to Google Webmasters Tool and that all the URL’s contained in the Sitemap is canonical in nature.

Only use XML Sitemaps if you have reached the current limit of your Sitemap that is 50000 URLs. Having a single Sitemap is more than enough for small to medium websites. If you use RSS Feeds, then make sure that they only include your website’s fresh content, which will help search engines and users find only the latest updates from your end.

What You Should Not Do? 

Don’t let your RSS or Atom Feeds contain all the content from your website. This will make your fresh content difficult to find for those who want to keep track. Also, ensure that your RSS feed does not contain URLs or Links which are not allowed to be indexed by search engines through your website robots.txt. Don’t try to fool search engines by just updating the modification time of your pages. If they are not updated, let them be like that till you have time to update them.


3# Make friends with Google Panda 

You have already been acquainted with Google’s favorite pet to fight non-authentic, low-quality content. You know what to do.

SEO in 2015 – What You Should Do? 

Today Google takes more into consideration than just the fact that the articles you put up on your website are Authentic and pass Copyscape. You must ensure that all the content on your website has graduate-level English and should be as engaging as possible.

NOTE: Make it a point to block all your website’s Legal Documents from being indexed in the Search Engines.

What You Should Not Do? 

Don’t scrape and post content from all over the Internet. Don’t be a part of plagiarism campaigns and don’t just pick content from another website, re-write and publish on your website. Try to have unique content with your own opinion that gives a certain value in return for a user’s time spent on your website.

Ensure that pages on your website don’t have exact or similar content. It is fine to give reference to other pages on your website, but meaninglessly adding subpages just to increase the weight of your website is a total no-brainer.

4# Avoid Being Under The Penguin Radar 

This is an absolute must. If you do all steps correctly and just avoid this nasty little beast then you are done for – at least one year (until and unless you are pretty lucky). Google’s Penguin Filter aims at blowing those websites out of the Search Engine Results Scope if they are found involved in any manipulative link building tactics. So keeping a natural and clean backlink profile is a must in 2015. If you don’t know what it feels like to suffer the blow of Penguin, consider Googling this phrase – “My website has been penalized by Penguin.” And see the reaction of webmasters who were too lazy to consider doing a backlink profile check.

What You Should Do? 

Do a thorough backlink audit of your website and disavow all the spammy and unnaturally acquired backlinks.

NOTE: Sometimes competitor firms do spammy link-building practices on your website just to have it go down the search results in the next algorithmic update. It is vital to do a check of your backlink profile no matter how sure you are that it is clean. 

You should always work to acquire good quality editorial backlinks from trusted sources. It is also a good signal to Google if you acquire backlinks at a steady pace. Also, maintain diversity in your anchor texts.

What You Should Not Do?

Never opt for link-building schemes or be a part of reciprocal linking networks. When you do a backlink audit, also disavow all backlinks that appear to be from irrelevant sources. Don’t overdo your anchor texts with brand name or primary keywords.


5# Schema Markup Has Gained Relevance In 2014 

Schema Markup is a tag that is used by search engines to differentiate entities like (People, Products, Reviews, and Events, etc.) Although Google did not make it clear in any way that it would be giving significance to Schema Markup but in 2014 we saw a lot of websites inculcating the same.

What You Should Do? 

Take a look at the available Schemas and pick the ones that best fit your webpage. If you are not that good in coding, you can take of Google Structured Data Markup Tool to Schema Markup your webpages. To test the same you can use the Structured Data Testing Tool that Google has made available to webmasters.

What You Should Not Do? 

Don’t ever trick search engines through Schema by tagging your data as something which it is not. If you do this, the search bots will find it and penalize your websites. Stay away from anything that deceives the Search Engine Crawlers and the Visitors.

6# Avoid Buying Social Signals And Earn Them In An Organic Way 

Off late you must have noticed that search engines favor websites that have a strong social presence. Even though Google has not confirmed the effect of Social Media on Search Results, but it clearly said that Google treats all Social Media posts that are open to indexing just like it does any other web page or website. So you get the hint.

NOTE: Your Google+ Posts can make it to the Search Results of your G+ Connections and their connections so this can be used to get in a lot of organic traffic. 

What You Should Do? 

By all means, you should look at attracting social signals by posting meaningful and viral content. Don’t buy social signals from unlawful SEO firms and other agents as they will in most cases do you more harm than good.

Inculcate Social Media Sharing buttons on your website so that it is easy for people to share your posts.

What You Should Not Do? 

Don’t waste your time and money by purchasing like and shares or any other type of social signals. Both Search Engines and Social Networks are able to trace accounts that are created for the sole purpose of trading likes and that may result in your social media accounts getting banned altogether. 

7# Consider Getting An SSL Certificate

What You Should Do?

HTTPS protocol / SSL Certificates are the small padlock icon before a website name. This small padlock icon is a symbol of trust and security. It is crucial for websites to obtain an SSL certificate if they involve the transfer for Personally Identifiable Information of the users.

However, it is important that you take the help of a professional when transitioning from HTTP to HTTPS – if you do it incorrectly then it may harm your present standing in the search engines.

NOTE: Google made it clear that SSL Certificates give a slight ranking boost to websites, so only consider getting one if your website involves the transfer or sensitive information as SSL Certificates are pretty expensive. 


8# Improve Website Load Speed and User Experience 

Going by the trend of the past few years, Google has started giving weight to quite a few UX-related metrics like Page speed, Responsive Designs, and HTTPs Protocol. Thus, it becomes even more important to keep our focus on enhancing user experience and being at par with Google site speed metrics.

What You Should Do?

Make use of Google Pagespeed Insights to find the current load time of your websites and become aware of any fixes that you could do to decrease the load time of your websites.

Also, if you are optimizing your website for other search engines like Bing, Yahoo! And Yandex – These search engines have made it pretty clear that they give weight to metrics like user engagement and click-through rates in ranking websites. Even though Google continues to keep mum about the same, working on enhancing these features of your website will give you great benefits like increased conversions of your website visitors and more likes, shares, and brand mentions across the internet.

What You Should Not Do?

Don’t have a cluttered website with a very heavy (too many images, media, or advertisements) homepage. Having a minimalistic reach to your website will let it load faster thereby enabling a smooth user experience and faster load time.


Even though there are more than 200 ranking signals, most of them are too small to be significant and some of them are such that you have no control over them. If you just focus on doing the things that I have mentioned in this Checklist, you will see a significant rise in rankings in 2015 or even be able to retain your present rankings when there is an upgrade of the current Google algorithms.

Just focus all your effort on completing part of this checklist, one by one and not all at the same time as you will fail. Remember, SEO is an overtime process. It doesn’t happen in one night and nobody, not even the big players reached the search engines in a short time. So just keep your focus on doing the right things like proper website architecture, enhanced user experience, schema markup, graduate-level content, clean backlink profile, etc and you will start to notice that your online presence has become more dominant.

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How To Get Traffic That’s Looking For My Business And Other Magic Tricks

Driving Organic Traffic and Increasing Conversions

The longer you make the mouse wait for the cheese, the lesser are the chances of it camping at your den. It has been running around all day searching for nourishment’s and if you just give it some food with ease, it is going to come back tomorrow and maybe tell others about your generosity as well.

This same law applies to humans as well. Humans have had an unending quest for knowledge from the beginning of civilization and it is in our nature to reach out and find shelter at those places which make sustenance simple. With that being said, the ideal organic traffic driving strategies would normally incorporate elements like – Value, Keyword Research, Earning Backlinks and Niche Hotness Quotient!

Let’s take an example of a ‘model persona’ of your business. Say you are a Cosmetic Firm and I am a person suffering from proactive hair fall due to bad products that I used in the past. I need to save myself from the horror of pattern baldness and how would you help me?

From my perspective

business management

“I may just be another potential customer for your business who has approached your website to seek information. I am standing just behind the fence, asking to be convinced, looking for solutions to my problems, trying to find examples of your past expertise.

The sooner you are able to give me the information (cheese), that I am here for – the more valuable your website is going to be for me. If you beat around the bush and make me work the last brain cell, I am going to get frustrated soon and scurry off to another website that clearly expresses the solutions to my awful problem.

There are a few things to consider here, since the situation is completely hypothetical:

How did I reach your website in the first place?


  1. You did proper keyword research around your business which deals in organic cosmetics that are helpful for skin and hair. So when I entered the phrase “hair fall treatment” in Google, I was able to find a direct link to your domain as a page on your website is ranking for the word “hair fall treatment.”


  1. I got your reference from a friend or an acquaintance in Social Media who had endless praises for the effectiveness of your products. Still to be extra sure, I dropped by to check the value in your website.


  1. I came across an offline or online very captivating advertisement of your brand that had a strong message for people to avoid chemical cosmetics and their harmful effects. Since, the campaign was somewhere related to my sentiments; I instantly connected to your brand and thought it would be wise to check your website.


  1. I was reading an interesting blog post around my problems and all of a sudden, there was a link (backlink) suggesting your website for organic hair and skin care treatments.


  1. There are many other possibilities and I don’t want this post to become a “Definitive Guide on How I Reached Your Website 101.” So you get my idea right?

NOW, I am already at your website – “I am standing behind the fence. A bit dicey about your products, since I have been overly exploited by – Get Your Hair Back in a Week Schemes. How do I convince myself or how do you convince me that I won’t be cheated again?

By delivering valuable content of course.

Let’s take a look at the key ingredients of a valuable content:

  1. Content that you think will be worth my time. (Remember I am representing a ‘Model Persona’ of your business). Keyword research is important, but content that is filled with keywords only to rank your website is not going to drive any conversions for your business.

Remember, driving organic traffic is not about driving 1 Million people to your business, but it is about driving quality traffic to your website and converting them into followers of your brand ideology.

  1. Content that you think will be worth putting up on your website. There is no point in writing a crystal clear and precise copy for Vacuum Cleaners on a cosmetic website, is there? So, make every piece of content that you post on your website, shine around your niche. Don’t just write for your company, write for your ‘category’ and write around customer problems and give them information that they should feel like bookmarking, or sharing with others.

There is no magic trick to this. It requires a lot of research and understanding of the potential requirements of your customers and delivering it to them.


  1. Update or post fresh content on regular intervals. I come across with many bloggers in the IM-world who whine about less traffic in their blogs in spite of writing valuable content. But I know from the instant that there is something terribly wrong in their approach and they are not able to fix all the pieces in the puzzle, thus missing out on organic traffic.

After digging in, I find that the last time they posted on their blog was 2 weeks ago and the last time they updated any of their previous articles was ‘NEVER.’

 copywriting secrets

This is not rocket science or any voodoo magic we are doing here. There are millions of bloggers who are ten times more hardworking and committed than you. If you want that piece of the pie, you gotta work for it, or hire people to do it for you. But you cannot avoid it.

  1. People want fresh content, give it to them. It is always a good idea to revive your old content from time to time and give it a new look and publish it on your blog. But it is always better to give your audience fresh content that is unique or a latest trend in the news around your niche. Mostly all newspapers will have a separate column for your niche – Keep a watch for anything interesting and valuable and share your message around the same topic in your website or blog.

I see a lot of people just picking up and re-styling content from other websites. The only one time I will consider that stuff valuable is if I see that you have taken the pain to dig in deeper and compile a lot of solutions from various sources. That works a charm at times, but I still recommend writing unique and new content. This makes the content all the more valuable.

  1. Include case studies, examples, past accomplishments where ever possible. But do not, cover the cheese and hard coat it with your medals. I was reading a very popular blog recently and they had done a case study on some of the most visited blog posts in leading blogs of 2014.

It was clear from the case study itself that, out of the 5 blogs they surveyed, all of them had an average of Three Top Posts that received organic traffic even after 7 months of publishing. And as you guessed it right – These three blogs had unique case studies on the A/B testing, Problem Solutions, Results of their Past Campaigns etc. You get the idea right?

I cannot stress the importance of including a case study enough. All I can say is adding a legitimate and real life case study to your website is going to triple its value from the buyer’s perspective. And websites that offer their past case studies to their audience have 26% higher chances of converting than websites without it.


SO, do not waste my time with publicity, fluff and big-fancy words that ooze of excellent copywriting skills – JUST GIVE ME THE CHESSE!


Somewhere in our subconscious mind, we all know the key to driving organic traffic but we suffer from some problems too many. If you ever come across people like the ones I mention below, tell them to take action or delete the word organic traffic or conversion from their dictionaries.

  1. Paralysis by analysis – “I am the kind of person who spends too much time on the internet trying to reach perfection, but when it comes to taking actions I am just too confused because I read too much I think.”
  1. Virtue in Ignorance – “I know it all – Keyword Research, Valuable Content (mindless content jargon). I am just too lazy to move my !%$ and I would just continue doing whatever I am.

DRUM ROLL Please for this fantastic creature. He knows what to do, but would choose to ignore everything. Can anyone remind me why we are here again?

  1. Clueless Homosapien – “I have no clue what I am doing and I just lack the necessary knowhow, can someone please guide me?”

Ask these people to look up Google for their solutions. Google probably has answers to everything, unless you are not looking for How to make an Atom Bomb (or something closely related to the destruction of the world), of course. Maybe, they have it and they just don’t share it for everyone’s welfare. Who knows?

  1. My hands are tied – “I have read all about driving organic traffic and writing valuable content that gets shared but I seem to have a hole in my pocket or my brain.”

There are lots of people who either lack the necessary knowhow or do not have the funds that go into research and development to create the ideal atmosphere for driving organic traffic. All I have to say is, hard luck surviving the Internet to these people. There is no point in being a part of this rat race if you do not have even one of these key characteristics.

Everyone keeps saying do this and do that but in the end it is all too confusing. If you were a newbie, my suggestion would be to take parts of my advice and act on it, instead of trying to enact the whole thing at once. If you are a seasoned pro, you are already spinning the money and maybe you could just brush up your skills through this post. Do remember to share your views in the end or spread it to people who may need this small piece of motivation.

Traffic for Your Website

With everything said and done, the only reason that keeps you reading this ruthless jargon on proactive organic reach and how to become a Google guru is engaging content and the only way this content reaches you or you reach the content is ‘virality.’

Moving on, let us keep aside everything I mentioned until now and concentrate on – “HOW TO REACH THE TRAFFIC THAT’S LOOKING FOR MY BUSINESS?”

Apart from the value your content provides (which I am assuming it does), there are three more ‘elements,’ to your content that need to be asynchronous in order to drive more traffic to your online delegation:

  1. Proper Keyword Research – I will go into this in a while.
  2. Lots of Backlinks – These are the best and ratio-wise the most converting ways of reaching out to the people who are looking for you. The more blogs and websites and users on the internet that are talking about your business. The more you are disposed to reaching your business milestones and converting visitors who reach your website.
  3. Hotness quotient! – The hotness quotient of your niche or category of your business (whichever way you say it) plays an important role in the amount of organic traffic that comes to your business.

For example: If your business revolves around skin care and beauty treatments – This is an evergreen niche and you can expect to receive huge amounts of organic traffic all throughout the year.


If your business is based on seasonal deals then you may not get as much traffic as you would get during or before a holiday season.

You get the point right? Read on and I will clear any doubts you have about this. And I alone do ‘not vouch for this – you can check out various other sources on the internet and experts who have the same opinion as I do. For example – Hubspot.com, QuickSprout.com, Inc.com and SocialTriggers.com

Now, getting back to square one – Let’s take a look at how to analyze your content strategy and tweak it to create valuable content that kills your competitors –

Like I mentioned before, I will repeat myself sorry – Valuable Content will get more likes, the more people who like your content, the more they will share it. The more shares your content will get, the more references on the Internet will vouch for your products or services and All this compiled together will create an IMBALANCED BACKLINK WHEEL – that should have your competitors regret your existence.

If you read a lot of Internet Marketing blogs, you must have already come across the saying “You are crazy if your business don’t own a blog space to your website!” In addition, I will second this opinion. How do you aim to drive traffic to your website with only static pages and no dynamic content?

This is my way of planning a content strategy for my blog. (Shameless Self Promotion Here)

  1. DOING THE KEYWORD RESEARCH – According to statistics, reaching the first page on Google does make businesses successful, but you will be surprised to know that actually the first link in the SERPs is able to steal more than 49% of the search traffic and the rest 9 links get only a single digit percent of the remaining traffic. Needless to say that even a small percentage of Global Traffic is actually a huge amount of the cake that you could keep on your plate.

This is only possible through extensive keyword research. I will not tell you how to conduct an in-depth keyword research here but you could always take help from the experts in the Engage community.

Keyword research forms the basic framework of any online establishment. The sooner you understand the importance of this the better it will be for your business.

What really makes it such a critical aspect to consider is that both Search Engines and Users depend on it.

Choosing the right keywords is an art and once you have your website optimized for a particular keyword. You can be sure to reach out to that audience who is searching for “your keywords” in the search engines. This will enable your brand to be present at the right place and the right time, which is the essence of driving organic traffic to your website.

  1. WRITING CONTENT FOR THE LONG TERM STRATEGY – Instead of trying to write content that will rank for probably a day or two – try to focus your mind and effort on content that is going to be hot, forever and ever.

This is what I meant by Hotness Quotient of your niche.  By writing content that will only be searched for periodically, you will limit yourself to visitors only at those times of the year when there is a demand for it.

There will also be a chance of not ranking for it at all, as the more active blogs and websites which are already ranking high and giving HOT Content to the readers will cover that topic at the right time.

Anything that is Evergreen and may never get old, in terms of SEO and Value to the reader is known as evergreen content.

For example – If you make a website around an event that will be hosted in 2014. You may be receiving stable traffic this year, but unless and until there is a follow up of that event the next year, you can very well except zero to negligible traffic. You cannot expect people to vouch for or like content that is old. Can you? 


If you had a website covering symptoms of Pregnancy, Precautions, Medications, Accessories, Diets etc (basically everything around the niche – It is an evergreen niche and traffic source for such niches will never die at any time of the year.

Let’s take a look at some more examples of Evergreen Niches:

  • Relationships and Depression
  • Love
  • Parenting
  • Pet Care
  • Finance
  • Etc..


Look at these examples of Niches that are not evergreen:

  • Articles relating to current fashion trends
  • Current Pop Culture
  • News Articles
  • Etc..
  1. SHARING YOUR CONTENT AND EARNING BACKLINKS – If you are aware of the prevalent SEO practices, you will already know that manual link building is a gradually dying trend. Not only is it painstakingly complicated and time consuming, but it is also losing its luster as content strategies become more progressive.



Social Media


  • Power of SOCIAL MEDIA – If you have a good social media presence, you can always share your content with your fans and following and they in return will share and like your content, if there is value in it for them. Some might even share your posts with others out of sheer goodwill. That’s how easy it is to get backlinks pointing to your website, if you have a compact community of your own.
  • Clean Website Interface – Your website interface plays a crucial role in deterring or encouraging people to share the content that you have published. According to statistics (just take my word for it), majority of the content that goes viral on social media is from websites that offer clean and clutter free interface.


If you offer an enhanced user experience at your website, a visitor will more likely feel comfortable in sharing your ‘helpful’ and ‘valuable’ content with others.NOT only this, but it also has a very positive impact in diminishing the bounce rate of your website. Lesser the bounce rate, higher the chances of traffic converting into your brand followers or users.



To sum it up, the key to driving organic traffic is Valuable Content, powered by effective keyword research, social sharing and earning backlinks along with writing on topics around your niche or category that is evergreen and  always looked for.Don’t forget to share your views below and if you liked this read, then go ahead and click the Social Media Buttons Below – they do magic. 😉 

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Google Penguin 3.0 Algorithm – A Massive Blow To Manipulative Tactics

“Truth be told, thousands if not millions of websites will go out of business after this update. Thousands of people will lose their jobs and countless web-masters will be uprooted from the face of the Internet.”

LATEST UPDATE 20.10.14John Muller stated in a Hangout conference that Google Penguin 3.0 is done rolling out for now. But, he did not confirm as yet, if there are any changes made to the previous algorithm or if there will be any more Penguin refreshes in near future.

If you are struck by the Google Penguin 3.0 algorithm and looking for possible fix  or want to know whether you are hit by it or not – Click Here, otherwise you can read on to find out what the update is all about and who has been affected and to what extent.

To hit the accelerator, allow me to waste 2 minutes of your life with this very, very, (very and if there is any more very after very) important eye opener, one act play that came to my mind right now. 

(Scene 1: The Office)

(Alex and Bob are in an office setup. Looks like this is Bob’s office)

Alex (another SEO Guru): Hey! There is a rumor that Penguin 3.0 might roll out soon, why don’t you do a thorough examination of your backlink profile? Do it regularly and make sure that it’s all clean and tidy – You don’t want Penguin to kick your ass. right?

Bob (the lazy Webmaster): Aarghh! Another Penguin Update? No ways man. I think I will just let it pass. I have 100% germ free backlinks.

Alex : Your call buddy! Don’t say I dint warn you.

Bob : (Snoring…) Fast asleep in his chair.

Alex : When someone’s doomed, even god can’t save him. (Walks out of the scene)

A Month Later

(Scene 2: Alex’s Place)

Alex is sipping coffee, happy that he survived the first wave of the Penguin. Bob comes running in.

Bob: I don’t want to live on this earth anymore. Three of my websites that were ranking for my most competitive keywords are not even appearing on the first 10 pages and one of my websites has been pushed to Page 4. I need help!!?!

Alex: Get used to this, you did not take action when I warned you. Don’t worry – It’s going to be normal soon. Just a year maybe. Without any traffic through the SERP’s, you will be able to survive this right?

Bob faints, the scene ends.

You may not agree with me, because you think otherwise, but Bob is the iconic representation of most of the Webmasters today. Google’s policy has clearly stated over the years that any kind of unoriginal backlinks to a website, which it has not earned organically, are against the rules. But just like Bob, most webmasters indulge in shortcut tactics, or ways to instant fame and JUST LIKE BOB, most are even lazy to reverse the process to evade the Penguin attack.

I don’t want to give an introduction to the Penguin here, but in a line, I would call it Google’s weapon of mass destruction for websites which indulge in manipulative link building tactics and other black hat link earning methods.

This update has been a boon for all the webmasters who were hit by the Penguin 2.1 last year in October. Ever since then, it must have been a tough crawl up the ladder for these guys. But, Google has rewarded the websites who have worked on end to recover their old reputation by sanitizing their link profiles – there are significant boost in SERPs ranking for these. (Website which have forever been White Hat followers have not been affected positively or negatively). But, websites which have been caught in the act, have been dropped off the face of the Internet.

I have not seen the online forums and discussion boards so ablaze with conversations for at least an year now. This has definitely been a Massive, Massive Update and It’s a fair warning to those websites which have been lucky enough to avoid the first shockwave – don’t be like Bob if you want to live a SERPy life for the next one year.

What Google Say’s About the Frequency of These Updates

John Mueller stated that they are trying to do everything in their scope to speed up the resolution time of the algorithms after webmasters have fixed the issues in a reasonable time. Sometimes, the wait for the changes to reflect and the ranking to rise can be over 6 months, which is not a favorable situation for White hat firms that fell under the grasp of Bad SEO companies or Negative SEO tactics. 

Penguin 3.0 is a Massive Attack – After A Long Time

Just like the previous Penguin updates, this one has already played a key role in screwing the essential keywords for thousands of websites. I will repeat myself again, that only those websites which have indulged in any kind of manipulative tactics for earning links will be penalized. Still it is a good idea to keep a track of your backlink profile and disavow all links that may seem insignificant to you.

Even ‘over-optimized’ backlinks to commercial pages, which work to increase the conversions of the websites, are under the magnifying glass. So, you better be careful when you do your link audit this time.

I have been working for a few clients who have been affected by Negative SEO over the past few months. Some have even recovered completely or partially. So, this was a life savior for those who managed to evade the first wave in the nick of time. However, for the firms who are still suffering from malicious attacks under the radar – It is a bad, bad news.

The best way to fight back against such douche efforts is to keep a constant eye on the link movement in your profile and watch over any illegitimate links that you have not acquired and disavow them. If all else fails, just keeping your disavow file up to date and writing to Google in your disavow cover letter that you have been a victim of such activity will suffice – For now.

This is not a fair test of faith to be honest, but against the growing Internet corruption, there does not seem to be a more logical approach to a situation than this – Well we can at least count on Google for this. 

I constantly check the rankings for more than a 1000 websites myself and I am noticing a huge wipe out here. This is the worst side of the coin and there is no way to dodge this if you are in the wrong and you do not make an effort.

penguin update recovery tips

My Opinion About This Update

It’s not a perfect update, as there are quite a few loopholes to fix, but I am sure Google has made these changes seeking the best effort of those web masters who have taken their step up the ladder slowly by opting for White Hat techniques only. Even those  webmasters who have been previously involved in wrongful tactics, if they have corrected their mistakes or at least made an honest effort, I think their websites are safe for now. But, it is not my guarantee as these algorithms’ have the tendency to be very unpredictable and you do not know the cause till you are actually hit by them.


What is the scope of this algorithm?

Google really seems bent on searching and destroying those websites that have manipulative anchor text links and websites, the sole existence of which is only for link selling purposes. Good bye link farms!

It is becoming increasingly easy now days to sort out the bad backlinks from the good in the link profiles, merely by looking at the names. However, such tactics should only be used as assumption and not as a final measure for link auditing. I do not want to get into the nitty-gritty’s of link audit but I am sure, Google is making the best use of its advanced algorithm, and it is doing quite a good job at that.

This is the eve of judgment call for blog networks, the reason being most of such networks are almost all the time involved with more than one link selling micro blogs. Such tactics are both used by Black Hat or Lazy SEO firms and bloggers. But, it won’t last much longer now, especially after the second wave (if there is any in near future). Due to the unpredictable nature of the algorithm, it is difficult at the moment to estimate what the search giant might do next.

The Future of Automated Backlink Analysis

Seeing the force at which Google is augmenting its AI, automated auditing and backlink analysis will soon be a thing of the past. It is becoming increasingly impossible and improbable to even think of software programs to scrutinize the backlink profiles of websites at a deeper level than they are doing already.

My Advice

Maintain a thorough backlink profile and update it from time to time in order to make your future days less cumbersome. You sure will thank me in future. 

Have You Been Hit? Possible Fix to Penguin 3.0 and Safety Measures

Use the Penguin Penalty Checker Tool to analyze the current status of your website. This handy tool will compare your web traffic before and after the Penguin 3.0 launch. If you notice significant drops in your SERPs traffic, then you are probably hit by the update already and if you see no significant change in the SERPs, it is reason for you to be happy – but not over confident.

Do a thorough backlink audit analysis to be certain that your website is not under the grasp of the Penguin in present, or in near future. If you feel that you are affected by the Google Penguin Algorithm, then there is not much you can do in the short run.

These are the 2 possible routes you could choose. Both routes are pretty painful to be honest, but that’s how it is.

  1. Quarantine Your “Bad” Links – There are no shortcuts here. Get a complete backlink profile of your website by using tools like Majestic SEO, Ahrefs etc. From then, it is only manual labor of checking out individual links and segregating them. Disavow all your bad backlinks and submit a cover letter to Google Webmasters stating your course of action and which links you have unable to remove (if any and why).There is not much to do after this except, keeping your backlink profile clean and waiting for the next Penguin Update (which can take more than 10 months) to recover your lost rankings.Unlike other penalties, there are no reconsideration requests for a website hit by a Penguin update. So you can either wait it out a year or take our next option, which is equally painful.Forget about Google for a Year at least and invest time and resources on traffic gathering activities outside the scope of Google.
  1. Forget Your Current Website – Another viable but painful option is to forget that your website ever existed. If you cannot wait one full year to do a Penguin Recovery, then you can just cut out your loss and start a new website (possibly with a different extension).

Final Verdict

If we notice the track records of previous Penguin runs, we can expect a similar approach with the Penguin 3.0 this time. However, if such speculations are to be true, it is fair to expect a couple of Penguin 3.0 reruns in the next few weeks. If your website has not already been penalized by the Update, it is about time you get down to business and get your backlink audit done. 

The process may seem painful and expensive for now, but trust me it will be worse if you have to sit out an entire year away from Google SERPs only to see your competitors take on a huge irrecoverable lead. It’s all a matter of time, so your hard time spent right now, will pay off in future with more benefits than you could anticipate. I hope you found this piece helpful. 

What is your take on the Penguin 3.0 Update? Have you noticed any changes in your ranks off late? Let me know through the comments section below.

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Magento SEO 101 – A Definitive Guide To Master Your CMS

Magento SEO 101 – A Definitive Guide To Master Your CMS

When you think of eCommerce Management Platforms, there are quite a few names that will cross your mind like Big Commerce, Woocommerce, Shopify and Magento. It doesn’t matter if you are already an eCommerce Store Owner or an aspiring webmaster thinking of starting an eCommerce store or planning to upgrade an existing one. A good platform can make the management easier by covering all your requirements ranging from inventory management, product updates, catalogs, user accounts, wish lists, comparison windows, check-outs, etc. in one panel.  
In this guide, I am specifically going to address the Magento platform because I feel that it is one of the best CMS available today. Magento is used by most global brands like Nike, Rovio, Paul Smith, etc, and the only setback it has is that it cannot be customized without extensive knowledge. Let’s take a step towards Magento success. I will try to update this guide as and when Magento platform receives an update in the future.  

Take a look at the Table of Contents below.


1. What Is Magento SEO, Why Indulge?

2. Common Magento SEO Mistakes To Avoid

3.1 The Art Of Optimizing Magento

 3.1.1 Fundamentals Of Optimization

 3.1.2 Setting Up Headers

 3.1.3 Content Management System Pages

 3.1.4 Managing Categories

 3.1.5 Managing Products

 3.2 Optimizing Magento Theme

 3.2.1 Free Themes vs. Paid Themes

 3.2.2 Customizing Headings

 3.2.3 Clean Your Code

 3.2.4 Speed Optimization

 3.3 Duplicate Content and Advanced Optimization

3.3.1 Nofollow Redundant Links

3.3.2 Canonical URLs

4. Dealing With Layered Navigation In Magento

4.1 Canonical Tag

4.2 Parameter Handling in Google Webmaster Tool

4.3 Meta or X Robots

4.4 Ajax Navigation

5. The Advantages of Magento

5.1 Search Engine Friendly URLs

5.2 Google Site Map

5.3 Most Viewed Products

5.4 Top 5 Incoming Search Terms

5.5 Undoubtedly the Best CMS

6. Make Your Custom Robots.txt File

7. Measuring Your Magento Success

7.1 Check Your Popularity

7.2 Google Analytics for the Win

8. Conclusion Strategy

 1. What is Magento SEO and Why Indulge?

Magento is an open source, robust, and scalable eCommerce platform best suited for those businesses, which have a web-store. If you are an eCommerce storeowner, then you should definitely read this guide and if you are an aspiring eCommerce web-store owner, then you should read this guide again.

Magento is extremely stable today (far more than what it used to be back in 2010), and its latest version is very SEO friendly and can easily be customized by Search Engine Experts. If your online web store is lying un-optimized, then you are not only killing the potential of your website but also wasting a lot of energy, time and resources. Reconsider your decisions today.

Some Webmasters tell me – We have the Magento SEO Plugin. It is easy to use, then why bother investing in Magento SEO?

Yes! The Magento SEO Plug-in is a great choice, and I always encourage using it, but you should u understand that there is a fine line between bravery and stupidity. Magento is a “MASSIVE” platform and the SEO plugin does give some handy optimization techniques like editing the Title tag, Meta Tag and Anchor text, but it is not magic. The intricacies of SEOing a Magento Platform go far beyond the reach of a pre-designed program. Thus you need to have someone experienced work on the Platform to maximize its full potential

I hope that by the end of my post you will be able to make up your mind about taking a step further towards your Magento eCommerce Success. Moving on, here are some common Magento SEO mistakes that are easily avoidable.

2. Common Magento Loopholes That Are Stepping Stones For Every Webmaster

Let us look at some of the most common inherent Magento mistakes from the development phase, which are always overlooked. These make the most difference in carving your ‘stairway to heaven’ in your eCommerce escapade.

#Mistake No 1

Leaving the Homepage Title as Home

Most Homepage(s) are CMS Pages. It would be in your best interest to give it a personalized title like – Prime One Global Online Store – Prime One Global.com.

#Mistake No 2

Leaving the Default Description un-optimized

Always leave the default description field blank, or Magento has the tendency of duplicating it for search engines to such an extent that it looks more like spam.

Go to – System -> Configuration -> General -> Design -> HTML Head -> Default Description and “leave it blank.”

#Mistake No 3

Forgetting to use rel=canonical

Again, a simple command if not used can make your Magento web-store look like a spam farm with multiple duplicate content issues. Always use “rel=canonical” for both products and categories.

#Mistake No 4

Forgetting to change meta robots to index, follow – after migrating to live website

After migrating to live website, lot of developers forget to change meta robots from noindex, nofollow to index, follow.

Go to – System -> Configuration -> General -> Design -> HTML Head -> Default robots “index, follow”

#Mistake No 5

Sticking with Default Layered Navigation

Layered Navigation is a nightmare for SEO. I will let you in on the details in another section. (check Section 4)

#Mistake No 6

Ignoring or Forgetting the XML Sitemap

Before submitting your website to Google, it would be a good idea to check the XML Sitemap. Most developers create a sample Sitemap and leave it at that, which is always a no-winner.

CALL TO ACTION – Make sure you avoid these mistakes and let me know if I missed out something in the comments section below.

3.1 The Art of Optimizing Magento

Take a look at the definitive Art of doing Magento SEO, known only by a few, but brandished by all. I will show you some basic measures that are followed by most Magento SEOs.

3.1.1 Fundaments of Optimization

Enable Server Rewrites – Go to – System -> Configuration -> Web -> SEO -> Enable Server Rewrite

Under the URL Options section, you will find another handy edit,

Store Code To URLs – Always set it as “No” or your URLs will look like a mess with unnecessary characters.

Www or non-www – Under Secure and Unsecure, there is an option to select a preferred domain, select a particular URL type either www.mystore.com or mystore.com

3.1.2 Setting-up Headers

Search Engines appreciate those websites, which have their chief keywords near the page start. For this purpose, leaving your Header in default condition “Magento Commerce” is never a good route to take.

Go to – System -> Configuration -> Design -> HTML Head

NOTE: This title will only be visible on most basic-pages of your website.

Remember to leave your Default Description and Default Keywords field blank for reasons discussed in the Mistakes to avoid section.

3.1.3 Content Management System Pages

Keeping the above-mentioned trick(s) in mind, it is time to move onto the crux of Magento Platform. After you have put up some content on some of your CMS pages, choose a Search Engine Friendly URL and Descriptive Page Title for each page. Change the description of your most important pages in the Meta Data section, always write something, which is meaningful and will attract customers to your page.

In case you decide to leave the description field blank, then the Search Engines will find a keyword that is being searched for by users and show them an excerpt from around your keyword in the page.

3.1.4 Managing Categories

When making categories for your products and/or services in Magento, it is important to remember that this platform has the tendency of creating duplicate pages for product/services that fall under multiple categories.

This is turn is not a very welcoming signal for Search Engine crawlers, as they may end up taking those duplicate pages as spam content and flag your website.

To ensure that this does not happen, Go to – System -> Configuration -> Catalog -> SEO -> Choose “No” for Use Category path for product URLs.

After you have done the above, it is time to Manage Categories:

Go to System -> Configuration -> Catalog -> Manage Categories and make the necessary edits.

  • Meta Description Do not underestimate the importance of a good, keyword rich and attractive Meta Description.
  • Page Title – It is in your best efforts to leave this space blank. This will display the category name along with parent categories (if any).
  • URL Key – Try to keep your URL, as keyword rich as possible. Do not give special characters or number or stop words in your URL.

3.1.5 Managing Products

It is almost the same as managing the Categories. However, a handy tip to enhance the SEO of your Magento platform would be to optimize the images properly.

  • Choose clear Images that are attractive for your products
  • Remember to name the image files with proper keywords and avoid special characters and numbers
  • Set label for each image under “Images” tab – this Label will be used as Alt tag and Title for your images.

3.2 Optimizing Magento Theme

3.2.1 Free Theme vs. Paid Theme

I go by the rule of the thumb, which states that nothing good in life comes free of cost. I personally do not like using anything free, just because it is unreliable, and a developer who would spend the proper time and patience in customizing a paid theme would never do the same if the theme was free.

CALL TO ACTION – Select a Premium Theme for Your eCommerce Store or get one designed by a professional.

3.2.2 Customizing Headings

The default logo should always be in Heading 1 on the front page. All the subsequent pages, the main idea should be to put in as many keywords in the Titles as possible so I normally choose Heading 3.

Do not over use headings. Remove all unnecessary heading from your pages to throw light on the main content of the page. Also, remove all headers in the Side columns and replace them with a bold <strong> font if required.

In category page, <h1>Category Name</h1> and <h3>Product Name</h3>

In product page <h1>Product Name</h1>

3.2.3 Clean Your Code

Remember to remove all those unnecessary JavaScript and CSS that you might have in your themes. They do not help in SEO of your Magento platform in any manner and removing them ensures a faster load and that users can get to your website quickly.

3.2.4 Speed Optimization

Here are a few things that you can keep in mind, which would greatly enhance the customizability of your Magento Platform.

  • Enable Caching – This feature greatly enhances the page load speed for the users.

 Go to System -> Cache Management -> Enable Cache Management

  •  Always choose a good host, which is compatible for Magento Hosting.

Ensure that you limit the number of external files to as less as possible because every time a user visits your website you make them download external files. It is in your best interest to combine as many internal files as possible.

3.3 Duplicate Content and Advanced Optimization

After you have completed the basic optimization techniques, you might be faced with the problem of duplicate content, which is extremely common in Magento Platform.

I am going to show you how to let the duplicate content stay and still manage to get the right page indexed and the rest ignored by spiders. Read on to find out.

3.3.1 No Follow Redundant Links

It is important to nofollow all unnecessary links like basic-pages, add to wish list, checkout, login.

Also, remember to nofollow RSS feeds, add to wish list, and compare products, layered navigation in your theme files.

3.3.2 Canonical URLs

Canonical as the name suggests is the preferred URL for a product that you want the search engines to index. This removes the hassle of having to deal with duplicate product URLs in Magento platform.

 4. Dealing With Layered Navigation in Magento SEO

Layered Navigation, as I quoted earlier is the nightmare of all SEO. In layman’s terminology, whenever a new filter is applied to a product, Magento creates a new page (a replica) of the original page depicting the recent changes. To add to the mess, if a website has (n) number of products, it becomes increasingly difficult to deal with layered navigation manually, which leaves the website prone to Google’s Panda-monium, if left unattended.

Here are some of my ways of dealing with Layered Navigation in Magento:

4.1 Canonical Tag

Just like I mentioned in the section above, canonical tags are the preferred choice. This will show Google your preferred URLs for indexing purposes. I always tag this method along with the other methods due to its easy implementation.

4.2 Parameter Handling In Google Webmaster Tool

The Parameter Handling resource in GWT has created a lot of buzz amongst the SEO lately. It should be noted that the tool is efficient, and it gives varied results like the Canonical Tag. Use the Parameter Handling resource carefully, as in the end you are telling Google how to react to your pages through this tool.

This technique should be combined with one of the below techniques.

4.3 Meta or X Robots

This option is mostly preferred by SEOs for dealing with layered navigation. You can apply the Meta or x robots rules (noindex, follow), as it is efficient and easy to implement and does not consume much time.

4.4 AJAX Navigation

AJAX navigation is the best and most time/resource intensive process for optimizing your Magento webstore. The benefit of AJAX Navigation is that it applies the filters to the products without creating any duplicate entries.

5. The Advantages of Magento SEO

5.1 Search Engine Friendly URLs

Magento has become one of the most flourishing eCommerce platforms mainly because of its Search Engine Friendly URLs. When Magento had first released, the URLs were broken and it was difficult for Search Engines to decipher them. However, present day the URLs in Magento are very customizable and store owners can create their own custom URLs, which are keyword rich and easy to read.

5.2 Google Sitemap

Magento platform allows for faster indexing of Sitemaps in Google, which helps target customers reach the desired products faster. This is extremely beneficial of eCommerce Store Owners.

5.3 Most Viewed Products

This one is a sheer winner; it is your window to consumer magnetism right at the backend of your Magento platform. With this tool, you can see your most viewed products from the back panel. By getting a deeper insight on which products are most viewed, you can boost those pages by coupling with other marketing techniques or by using Google Adword.

5.4 Top 5 Incoming Search Terms

Wouldn’t it be a time saver if you knew exactly which keywords to optimize in your content development campaigns? The Top 5 Search Terms feature of Magneto does just that. It helps webmasters and SEOs optimize traffic by knowing the most popular incoming Search Terms to your Magento eCommerce Store.

5.5 Undoubtedly The Best CMS Around

You can make the most of the CMS section by uploading your SEO content here. This is the place where you can write product reviews, about the company or anything that will attract the customers to your store. Optimized with good keywords, this is a powerful place for making the most out of the Magento Platform and getting the conversions rolling.

6. Make Your Custom Robots.txt File

One of the most common mistake of Magento Store owners and developers is they forget the importance of creating a custom Robots.txt file when optimizing their Magento Platform.

Some webmasters even think that taking any generic robotx.txt file and placing it in their store is going to get the job done. I would like to stress on how important having a proper robots.txt file is. It is crucial to understand that every store is different; it has a different structure and requires a robotx.txt file of its own. A Robots.txt file of another flourishing eCommerce store is not going to work for your store, in every case you will need to make some important tweaks to better fit the URL structure of your eCommerce store and its priorities.

Always make sure that your robots.txt file is properly working through the Google Webmaster Tool before hitting the live button. A wrong robots.txt may lead to the downfall of your website.

7. Measuring Your Magento Success

7.1 Check your popularity

What you do, how much you invest, how hard you work is all in vain, if you are not popular at the end of the day. In the online world, where one organization wants to crush the other in the battle for supremacy, it is essential to establish an authority by the strategies and tactics that you deploy through your SEO. If you become famous, you have won the major part of the battle. One of the ways of finding your popularity is by checking the number of people who link to you. The more the number, the famous you are.

It is a give and take policy – no one will do anything for you free until there is a benefit in it for them. What I mean to say is, no one is going to link to your website until they get something back in return. A great way of promoting your products and getting backlinks to your websites is through Affiliates. If you can offer webmasters a modest commission on every sale they crack for you through their website, they are going to take interest in what your store has on offer for your target customers. There are countless number of backlink building strategies out there, you just have to reach out and employ a few of them in your website and your eCommerce platform will be flourishing in no time.

7.2 Google Analytics for the win

The internet is filled with countless ways for letting webmasters analyze and monitor their ROI. Make best use of Google Analytics to check the number of visitors to your website, where they are coming from, which website is sending in the most referrals and what are your most ranking keywords.

Also, try removing the keywords with your brand or product names and check the highest rankings for your most generic keywords. If you want eCommerce success, then you should already be ranking for your brand keywords. If you filter out your brand traffic from organic search and check your actual revenue for generic keywords; this is the real ROI of your Magento SEO campaign.

Magento is a powerful platform – extract the most out of it by combining it with great SEO.


That is it for my detailed insight on Magento SEO. Finally, I would like to state that it is crucial for all webmasters to understand the potential of a great SEO campaign and how it can positively impact their business.

For me, it has always been about staying focused and reaching your goals one at a time. Most webmasters think the web is like a huge piggy bank; they just want to scoop in and extract as much money as they can out of it. I say that their wishful thinking is not bad, but being online is more about establishing a meaningful relationship and forming connections. If you can learn to give value to your customers instead of bombarding them with mindless advertisements and sales proposals, you can be a winner.

Just work on the visibility of your Magento website, the significance of its existence and its popularity by forming connections. If you are focused in your objectives, you will see an exponential increase in the number of traffic to your website. Magento SEO will make you established and develop a brand presence that is unmatchable by any competitor.


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Google’s Latest HTTPs as Ranking Factor – A Marketing Ploy or Tech Revolution?

Google’s Latest HTTPs as Ranking Factor – A Marketing Ploy or Tech Revolution?


A week back Google Announced that it will be using HTTPs as a ranking signal which means that, websites using HTTPs will be getting a slight advantage in Google SERPs. However, this could soon be a thing of the past. For now, let’s find out what this change could really mean for eMarketers? How does the small padlock in the address bar change your online experience? 

Google has already migrated all of its products to HTTPs security and now it seems to be on a mission to save the entire world. In this zeal it claims to be offering to use the Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPs) as a site ranking signal. One must understand that this is not a significant algorithmic change like Hummingbird and it has nothing to do with the Panda, Pigeon or Penguin for that matter. It is a stand along change and will rule its guidelines according to the patterns set by Google. It is estimated that Google uses around two hundred such signals. Now, HTTPS would just be one more signal to rank websites. So the question is how important is this? More importantly, how does this concern ordinary users and website owners? Let’s read further to find out.

What is HTTPs? Does it make a huge impact on SERPs?

HTTPs is nothing but adding an SSL 2048-bit key certificate on a website that makes it more secure. The recent changes implemented by Google will give a minor boost to the sites. Some say that they have already started seeing the changes in effect while some claim that this migration is going to be a hell of a process. What HTTPs really does is – It uses additional measures to secure data transferred over the internet. While using the HTTP protocol, browsers and web servers exchange plain text data, leaving it vulnerable to spying, data theft and hacking as a potential attacker would be able to see and intercept your data, and use it for unauthorized access into websites or other such illegal activities. However, when the secured HTTPs version is used, the exchanged data gets protected by several other methods such as:

  • Advanced Data Encryption — Encryption of the data during exchange keeps it secure from getting snooped. This maintains the privacy of users over the internet at all times till they are under the protection of the HTTPs padlock. In other words, while a user is browsing a website, no one can see their conversations, or track their online activities or steal their data in any way.
  • Veracity of Data — Under the protection of HTTPs protocol, no data can be edited or dishonored during transfer – intentionally or unintentionally. Even if someone tries to invade your privacy, their efforts shall be detected and blocked immediately.
  • Advanced Data Verification — Under the protection of the HTTPs padlock a user can be sure that they are under complete supervision. It prevents manipulation and rules out the possibility of hacker attacks.


Who uses HTTPs?

If you have read all the way through this article it wouldn’t be a difficult choice in making the decision to HTTPs transition. If you really care about the integrity of your website and its visitors, making the shift would definitely be a major contribution to the online society, not just your website. In practice, the HTTPS protocol is used by companies and sites where logging in and account security is of paramount importance and sites involving financial transaction like online shopping, banking sites. Credit and Debit Card Transactions are usually done via the HTTPs protocol.

How do i know whether it is important to make a shift for my website?

In all cases, transitioning to HTTPs will provide your website with immense security and protection. But, not all websites really need to make the change to HTTPs. If your website falls under any of the below-mentioned categories, it is advisable to talk to an expert immediately to the shift to HTTPs.

  • If the site is making financial transactions – If your website is more of an e-commerce store where there are constant credit and debit card transactions, you must have already shifted to HTTPs long time ago – If you haven’t, then do your customers a favor and quickly get on with it.
  • If the website is collecting personal data – If your website is a PII (Personally Identifiable Information) collection hub – For example, if your website collects the private information of visitors like account login, passwords, commenting, and subscriptions through email etc, having HTTPs is a safe and reputable practice.
  • For purely informational websitesMigrating to HTTPs is not mandatory in this case, but still having HTTPs protocol will ensure that your users are protected from phishing attacks of hackers and other scam practices.

Will HTTPs help bolster my Internet Ranking?

Yes! Simply put, HTTPs will help boost the ranking of your website but as we all know Google uses 200 other such signals in calculating the ranks of a website, the changes will be strictly minor.

Frankly speaking, the HTTPs Signal is not as strong as compared to other signals for chalking the ranking benefits of your website. It is only a very lightweight ranking signal. According to the tests conducted by the Search Giant, there is an impact of less than 1% for total global queries. This should not be taken as an excuse to not make the change if your site needs it as Google plans to strengthen the signal in the near future. I would urge all websites that need to get a shift to do it fast as this small change will be a significant contribution to your users, as well as for the wellbeing of your site in the future.

In a recent post, Google added that the tests conducted over a period of months have yielded positive outcomes. They have assured that however minute, the HTTPs signals have made a difference in the overall ranking of the websites.

Google has added that their tests have yielded positive results in the past few months. They claim that the HTTPS signal has showed itself to be relevant in terms of rankings for Google’s search results. In fact, this announcement comes less than five months after Google’s head of search spam Matt Cuffs said that he would love to make SSL certificate a factor for search rankings.  So does this mean that unless my website is secure, it will not rank high on Google search? As of now, not really (given HTTPS is only one of several signals) but in the future, given Google’s zeal, perhaps yes.

Google has also run this ranking signal in real time. This is a shift from the erstwhile Panda or Penguin algorithms. The moment Google indexes a new HTTPS URL, that URL will immediately witness a tiny boost to its ranking because it is using the HTTPS URL. Of course that does not mean that one will see his/her site’s rankings increase prolifically. Like, for example, say the resulting number will not jump from 5 to 4, but it will, unobserved behind the scenes, have a small, increment in the overall ranking algorithm.

One also has to keep in mind that Google’s HTTPS rankings are on a per URL Basis. This basically means that if your website has some pages which have migrated to HTTPS protocol while the other pages have not, Google will give the ranking boost to only those pages which are on the HTTPS URLs and not to the other pages. Thus, the signal is on a per-URL basis, and not on a sitewide (full site) basis. This means that Google basically wants users to migrate the whole site to HTTPS but if one wants to do it in stages or try it out, one can do it technically on a URL by URL basis.

Thus, the shift will be more gradual than revolutionary. And do not expect that simply using the HTTPS will immediately revolutionize your site’s rankings. As stated before, quality of content remains the primary factor in adjudging the rankings. Moreover, the change in the rankings will only be applicable to those pages that have the HTTPS protocol.

So, is the shift to HTTPs really worth it?

This is one question that is coming up in everyone’s mind, and you were probably going to ask me the same in sometime. Interestingly, I do not have a definite answer to this yet, as there is not much news about this Ranking Signal, which we can bank on. I tried to weigh down the subject-scope with whatever little is known so far to help you make a decision yourself. Regardless of the conclusion to this question, I believe that the answer is going to vary from person to person as not everyone will face the same problems others are facing, and not everyone is ready to invest into this matter so soon.

Let’s see what we have here,

In terms of security, HTTPs wins the case as it will protect clients, visitors and moreover all users from third-party breakthroughs and other types of illegal prying and data tampering.

One major setback of the HTTPs migration is the costs involved. Switching over to HTTPs is definitely not free of cost (It looks like more of a marketing ploy now). One needs to pay for SSL certificates renewal and maintenance from time to time.

HTTPs is the standard for all eMarketing businesses that use their customers card based information for website transaction and security. Using the HTTPs complies with Payment Card Industry Data Security Services. It is MANDATORY for all websites that do financial transactions.

One needs to have a separate IP address for every SSL certificate that needs to be bought. How many IPs will a person need to make his entire website SSL protected? There is however a dodge to this situation if you can opt for a Shared IP – but that is only if your server supports Server Name ID. There is a problem with SNI as well. It is not recognized by old browsers in Windows XP.

Speaking of Conversion, security breach and online fraud are the biggest concerns of netizens nowadays. With growing awareness about theft of PPI from less secured websites, user’s just do not transact or even communicate with HTTP sites anymore. Thus, it is a good symbol for establishing trust amongst customers that their data will always be in the right hands.

While some claim that HTTP’s migration has significantly boosted their website speed, most people are saying that their website has become slower than ever. This may be due to that the slowdown is caused by the extra-processing power involved in Encryption and Decryption.

The Padlock icon has become a symbol of security and trust in the eyes of the entire world today. This small padlock icon will build great brand reputation and boost the popularity of the brand as a genuine and trustworthy business.

If you do not have much knowledge of handling server configuration, the process of migrating to HTTPs maybe an intricate one, best left to a professional. During the transition, all HTTP URLs must be permanently relayed to HTTPs with a ‘301 Redirect.’ All absolute internal links in your website need to be edited into HTTPs URLs or relative URLs.

And, there is always a chance of getting rewarded in the future. Even though the changes in the ranking may seem to be insignificant at this time, but if Google maintains the same zeal that it has for website security, we could be looking at a greater boost in the future for HTTPs websites.

This is one of the major setbacks of HTTPs migration; all your hard earned Social Signals will be lost.

Many external applications in your website will either stop working or malfunction when you transition to HTTPs from HTTP. To avoid this mess, it is best to check the compatibility of all your applications and plugins installed on your page before shifting.

Any external HTTP content will be blocked. This will result in external content from non-HTTPs resources showing error messages. Always ensure that your HTTPs page contains content from HTTPs websites only and that your Content Delivery Network will support it well.

Another devastating setback of the HTTPs transition is that your AdSense revenue will drop significantly.

This is what Google stated in their official blog – 

HTTPS-enabled sites require that all content on the page, including the ads, be SSL-compliant. As such, AdSense shall remove all non-SSL compliant ads from competing in the auction on these pages. Thus, ads on the HTTPS pages might earn less than ads on your HTTP pages.

SEO concerns over HTTPS?

Should one be concerned when switching over from your HTTP to HTTPS site as far as SEO purposes are concerned? The answer to this question is a plain and simple no. Google has been asking people to transition to HTTPs from many years ago. I personally remember Matt Cuffs (Head of Spam), Google, say in a conference in 2012 that Google should induce SSL Certificates as a ranking factor. (I am trying to find that PR, but its lost somewhere on the Internet). Even though SEO is not a concern, one still has to take the appropriate steps to ensure that the traffic does not suffer in any way. One must maintain proper communication with Google about their HTTP to HTTPs transition. Google has promised to release more documentation in the future in Webmaster Central, but for now there are a few guidelines provided which one must keep in their mind while making the switch:

  • Do you need a single domain certificate, multi-domain certificate or a wildcard certificate?
  • Always use the 2048-bit key certificates
  • Remember to use relative URLs for all relative resources that reside in your protected domain
  • Always use Protocol relative URLs for other domains
  • Google has published a Website Move article which has better and in-depth guidelines.
  • Don’t prevent your HTTPs website from crawling using robots.txt
  • Let your pages be indexed where ever possible. Remember to avoid using no index robots meta-tag.

Google has also updated its Webmaster Tools to handle HTTPs websites.

Another wise thing to do would be to make sure to track the HTTP to HTTPs migration carefully using analytics software.

The Final Verdict

Thus, we see that while switching over to HTTPS is a very safe option for oneself as well as for the entire internet using community, it is also a cumbersome process. To come out with a clean yes or no verdict seems to be rather problematic and the answer is also relative depending on who the reader is. If you are the owner of a shopping site or something, then it would be a resounding yes. On the other hand if you have a site that does not handle much of financial transactions or personal information then it is perhaps a better option to take the back seat and watch the action from the sidelines now. As time unfolds there would be better options available and the picture would get clearer and perhaps a time will emerge where it would be possible to make more informed decisions.

Do you agree with us? Have you already migrated to HTTPs? Dont forget to share your experience with us, in the comments section below.

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Google Pigeon Algorithm – Most Significant Changes To Ranking Signal

Google Pigeon Algorithm – Most Significant Changes To Ranking Signal


The recent Google pigeon algorithm implemented by Google on July 24th provides practical, precise and relevant local search results that are of greater help to users than the previously generated organic search results. The change in Google’s Pigeon Rank Algorithm has affected the local search listings, and this is visible on the Google Web and Google Maps Search Results page. Major changes have been made behind the curtain, and the ripples are beginning to show on the surface. Due to this change, local businesses might have noticed slight amounts of increase or decrease in the leads generated, website referrals and online business. The latest Google Search Engine Algorithm shares deeper roots with their search results capabilities, consisting of the numerous ranking signals that are used every day in web search along with search tools such as spelling correction, Knowledge Graph and synonyms, etc. In addition to these factors, the latest Google Algorithm Updates improve on their present distance and location ranking parameters. Even though Google accepted that a new algorithm change has been implemented, they declined to name this update. Barry Schwartz, the News Editor of SearchEngineLand, named this the Pigeon Update, since the changes affect local listings only. Three factors played an important role in this nomenclature.

  • Most of Google’s prototype devices or pre-production products/services are code named after animals or birds. For example, their previous algorithm updates were the Panda and Penguin, while the upcoming Google Nexus 5 is known internally as the Hammerhead. Hence, Pigeon seems apt!
  • Since the names of the earlier algorithms started with the alphabet ‘P,’ it was customary to do the same this time around too. Once again, the name Pigeon stuck on!
  • Google’s Pigeon Update Affects Local Search Listings only and we know that the pigeon is a domestic bird that likes to fly home at the end of the day. Hence, the name makes sense.



What is the Google Pigeon Algorithm and what are its Functions?


I want you to get the basics clear right from the beginning as Google is very strict when it comes to implementing guidelines and penalizing websites for playing with the Rules. When Google sets up Rules, these Rules are legit, and when they say that your website’s ranking on their Search Engine depends on 200+ factors, Google is not faking it. Finding out what these factors are and studying them in detail could take up to a few years, as a major part of these factors are constantly upgraded. Most of these upgrades are on-site, commanding greater focus and attention. A complete SEO Audit can help you figure out the missing aspects from your website, like Meta Information, content and the navigation, etc. You website’s search result rankings are bound to improve once the suggested corrections are implemented, and Google conducts a thorough research before implementing a new algorithm.


I . Changes to Local Listing Packs and Keywords Go Missing

In the pre-Pigeon era, the top-three search results tab would have been hogged by Pizza Hut, Dominos or any other reputed business franchise. However, in the post-Pigeon era, local businesses are getting priority. Their menus, photographs and reviews will be added to Google Plus (G+), which will then feature on Google’s SERP. Local business owners can make use of this situation and share the content of their business or improve business activity on Google Plus, to further enhance their visibility. The latest update from Google is undoubtedly quite large. Even though we do not have the official statistics, it is large enough for Webmasters and SEOs to report major activity and fluctuations. While some were happy with the changes, others were complaining. Even though this is a common phenomenon every time Google introduces an update, the sheer scale of the fluctuations is what sets things apart this time. There was a lot of activity, claiming that the quality of posts had fallen by 60-% since the new update came into effect.


Image 1: Local Pack Data

This image borrowed from Mozcast indicates a drop in the Local Pack for queries after Google Pigeon was introduced. Similar results are seen for the various other images, depicting Google Images and Carousel, etc.


Image 2: Google Images


Image 3: Google Carousel

The major change that was witnessed right after the Pigeon update came into effect was the lower number of queries including the local listing packs. According to the SERP Feature History from MOZ cast, the number of queries reduced from 12.1% on 23rd July to 3.3% on the 27th of July, as showcased in Image 6.


Image 4: Drop in Queries

If your website were affected within a similar time frame, it could be a result of the Penguin Update. In order to cover for the losses within a short time frame, you could opt for a PPC campaign while a viable long-term strategy would be to get Web Search Listings for your targeted keywords. Another interesting addition that was made to enhance the local listing experience is showcased in Image 7 below.

Have You Seen This Before?

I have experienced a new feature in Google when I was looking for hotels in the search query. Google asked me whether I was looking for local results in the United States. This feature is currently available only in the USA and should soon be introduced globally. This looks like another potent addition, all thanks to the Pigeon update, which is aimed at enhancing the local listings pack. Yelp!, TripAdvisor, UrbanSpoon and Many Other Local Directories Get the Best from Google’s Pigeon.


Image 5: Zip Code for Local Results

Here is a detailed analysis on Yesterday’s Google Pigeon Rank Algorithm, which set the local directories free. From this analysis that I put forth, it can be clearly seen that local directories like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and UrbanSpoon are getting the better off other web-pages after Google let the Pigeon out of the cage. Google fixed one of the major problems ‘Yelp!’ was having with their SERP’s. Yelp had accused Google of manipulating their search results to display their local listings before the listings of ‘Yelp!’ even when the search queries included the term ‘yelp’.  After the update was leashed on the 24th of July, webmasters noticed that when search queries included the term ‘yelp’ the SERP’s were filled with local listings from the directory of Yelp! And for some queries the entire first page SERP’s listings included links from directories of Yelp!


Image 6: Hotel Mulberry Search Result

When “hotel mulberry” was used as a search query in Google, SERP’s displayed the chief website of “Hotel Mulberry” at first followed by listings from all other local directories like TripAdvisor, Booking, Yelp, Hotels etc. (See Above Image)

When the same keyword was followed by this format (Keyword + directory) it displayed this result. In this case, I used “Hotel Mulberry (Main Keyword) + TripAdvisor (Directory).”   (See Below Image)Hotel-mulberry-tripadvisor-Significant-boost-in-rankings-after-Pegion-Update

Image 7: Hotel Mulberry TripAdvisor Search Result

The results displayed the listing from TripAdvisor followed by the main website of “Hotel Mulberry” and then listed other leading directories like Hotels, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Booking etc. Similarly I conducted a search for “Swissotel” and the SERP is displayed below.   Swissotel-without-tripadvisor

 Image 8: Swissotel Search Result

The results displayed the main website of “Swissotel” followed by links from Wikipedia and TripAdvisor. Again local directories are getting a lot of preference after the Pigeon Update.


Image 9: Swissotel TripAdvisor Search Result


When the same keyword was used along with “TripAdvisor”, it can be seen that the entire first page is filled with listings from TripAdvisor.

Local Directories Have Also Benefited

Not only is Yelp! And TripAdvisor benefiting from this update, but all local directories are also getting the best of the latest Google Pigeon Rank Algorithm. Though it may look like these two directories and similar styles are profiting from the Pigeon update more than other directories, but the ‘other-directories’ are also not lagging behind. The Google Update clearly mentioned that it will tie local results more closely to standard web ranking results. The reason that Yelp! And TripAdvisor are dominating the SERP’s is not because of this update, but simply because these websites have a far superior SEO framework than any other directory website.

What Point do I Want to Prove

From the aforementioned examples, I want to prove this point that though the Pigeon has only flown over United States, it will hit the global environment soon. The best measure to make sure that your local business does not get a piece of the Pigeon dropping is to enlist your business in as many local directories as possible. Give your website / business an authority in terms of Geographic location and Identity. This will be a boon for companies with local establishment and limited resources who have forever suffered the blow of the Major MNC’s and Silicon Valley Organizations.

II . Google Local Carousel – What is it?

Local Carousel’s were introduced back in April 2013 (or around that time). This was one of the most significant changes Google made to its Search Result Displays around that time. A Google Local Carousel is just like you can anticipate; a carousel (Image bar with links) at the top of the display results. If you are still wondering about what a Google Carousel Looks like, here is an image for a better picture.   English-Movies

Image 10: Google Carousel -List of Johnny Depp Movies

As you can see above, the Carousel was a great addition to search results, it makes the entire process of query hunting much easier and it is ‘definitely’ worth optimizing for. Even though at the moment Google Local Carousel is displayed only for 1% of the search queries, it is still worth optimizing for your business page.

What Happens in Google Local Carousel?

Just like I mentioned before, the Google Local Carousel is only shown for 1% of the keyword entries in Google, it is the right time to optimize your business page for Local Carousel as very soon SERP’s will start displaying them for most incoming local searches – At least, as much as it would be possible.

How Does the Google Local Carousel Work?

The time is soon to come, when Google will display Local Carousel for most incoming searches. It has already received so many positive feedbacks for Google Local Carousel, and I am sure it is working towards inculcating it in an in-depth pattern. For now local restaurants and hotels are the most to make appearance in Google Local Carousel. There are also different filters that can be customized in the carousels and they will change the search results according. Something that people forget to mention or that I do not find in any other blogs is that the Carousels can also come up for other “not local” searches – This is the reason why I have uploaded below the pictures of Google Carousel for “List of Horror Movies” (To show the difference). There are lots of customization options for these searches, just like for the below search, there is an option to search by “Year” and “Genre”.

Additional Details on the Google Carousel

The carousel was introduced to give local business an incentive to engage online, there are quite many benefits of Google Carousel:

  • The Carousel Images are attractive to look at and get more engagement by users. It is a tendency of users to click on attractive images first when they are searching for local businesses. Surveys conducted clearly show that most users always opt for businesses with a visual appeal before making a purchasing decision.
  • The Detailed listings above the SERP’s are a great relief, as there is high chance of recognizing and finding your query with an image than by reading all the (boring text) below to find out exactly what you need.
  • The Local Carousels also display a Local Map aside the SERP’s to give a more visual idea of where the local business are based – (It’s easy to spot something on a map and check out directions to reach the page, all from the Search Results page).
  • There is an added option to hover over the Carousel Images of businesses to such as Contact Information, Hours of Work, and Email-Id etc.So stop dreaming, and get talking with your SEO Consultant  immediately.


What I Would Like You to Do

Even though you do not have a choice about whether you want your business to show up in local carousel (not that you would have any reason against the same), there are a few things you can do to make the best of Google Local Carousel (When it hits your domain). There are a few things to follow so that you can get your Business befitting the guidelines Google Local Carousel. Keep in mind that the Local Carousel will be the most beneficial for small businesses, as it gives you the opportunity to shine, against all odds as compared to bigger and more powerful organizations. Make a difference now, as our analysis shows, that Local Carousel has won 48 percent of the clicks as compared to the first spot on first organic search. This will also give the right visibility to connect with the local users. First thing to do is remove all the Low Quality images from your website, and replace with the most high quality images. Google will randomly select a photo from your page to select a head photo (Which will represent your website in the Local Carousel). Second thing you should be aiming at is keeping your pages update with all the SEO measures (It’s not possible to be perfect, but you have to keep it as updated as possible). The rest will be taken care of by Google itself.

III . Yeah! Google Pigeon Drops the Security Bomb

Google has forever given top priority to Security and recently, it has launched the Security Bomb on search engines. All leading businesses today try to invest as much resource and energy as possible in keeping their Sites updated and fit according to the Google SEO Guidelines. Now Google has decided to reward the websites which also give priority to the security of their users along with the content that is displayed to give the users an ultimate web browsing experience that is not only result-oriented but also secure. We are talking about websites with strong HTTP’s encryption by default.


Google insists on making the internet a powerful set secure place for its users and is going to change its ranking algorithm in a pattern to give websites with secure HTTPS and SSL certificates more priority over the others. These changes have already been adopted by Google in its services a long time ago, like Google Search, Gmail, Google Drive are good examples of a secure connection – according to Google. This is how a website with secure SSL certificate and HTTPs looks like:


Image 11: Example of a Website With Secure SSL Certificate and HTTPs

Webmasters who were present at the Google I/O this year should have already know this was coming as Google had launched a campaign called “HTTPs Everywhere.” Since then we have even seen various corporations adopting the HTTPs. I conducted a thorough research to see if the changes were visible in the SERP’s and I realized, though it may seem insignificant at the moment, but the results are already starting to shine for those websites which have made a change.   HTTPS-Update-Comment

Image 12: Comment Taken From Google Web Master Center

The above screen shot (was taken on 13th August) is of a comment from the Google Web Master Center. Google clearly mentions that this is a “very lightweight” ranking signal for every website; in fact Google also added that it is less regarded than the actual “high-quality” content signal. Google further mentioned that this Security Bomb will only affect less than 1% queries globally. Considering the size of the internet, that 1% grows up to be a size that can dwarf all businesses and organizations alike.

What I Would Like You to Do

You should consult with your SEO before making the migration from HTTP to HTTPs so that it does not affect your traffic adversely. Things that you need to understand in order to make the migration:

  • What kind of certificate your website needs? Single, Multi-Domain or Wild-Card Certificate.
  • Always Use 2048-Bit Key Certificates
  • Always Use Relative URL’s for resources that inhabit the same domain
  • Don’t forget to update the robots.txt file to ensure that you don’t block your HTTPs site from crawlers.
  • Avoid no index robots Meta tag as much as possible.

Don’t forget to track your HTTP to HTTPs relocation in your analytics software and also within Google Webmaster Tools.

For All Who Don’t Want to Read the Details

Checklist to Help Avoid the Pigeon Dropping

Yes! I am well aware of the fact that it turned out to be a lengthy piece of article, but I had no options but to include whatever ever changes I found significant and whatever I think might be important in the near future. If you just want to skim through the details to find out what elements of the SEO you are in control of, this is a perfect checklist for you to absorb the changes from the very start till the end.

  • In case you have noticed a significant drop in your local listings for various keywords, there is a possibility that you have been dropped on by the Pigeon. Possible solution is to run a PPC campaign for the short run, but the only effective and long term strategy will be to optimize and run more content development campaigns for those keywords.


  • Make sure that your website has the good authority. Check all your back links, content and other SEO metrics to find out that your website authority is in good shape.
  • Focus on enlisting your website in as many local directories as possible, as the Google’s Pigeon Rank Algorithm has been very considerate on these websites.

Final Verdict

Since Google implemented the Pigeon Update on the 24th of July, numerous changes in the Google SERP have surfaced. Unlike the Panda or Penguin updates, the Pigeon does not ban websites or flag low quality content. It is unique in its functionality, as it prioritizes local listings obtained on the SERP, helping small and medium segment businesses flourish. During the period between July 24th and 25th, a huge wave of irregularities was noticed in the page rankings. While most business owners could not recognize the surrounding changes, SEOs and Webmasters were aware of the ongoing changes. Optimized websites are not the first priority anymore, defying the laws of Domain Authority. With the help of an in-depth analysis, we see that registering your website with local directories such as Yelp!, UrbanSpoon and TripAdvisor, etc. is paying off for the time being. Google has also decided to reward websites that follow its security protocols while staying updated. The shift to secure HTTPS and SSL certificates will also pay off in the long run. Overall, we can conclude that the Google Pigeon update introduces a host of new features while making your browsing experience safer than ever. Website owners should make it a point to upgrade their website at the earliest to reap the benefits.

Have you started making changes to your website already? Don’t wait for the Pigeon to drop on you, and hit the chords for this new boon – Starting Today! Share your experience and problems as they come, in the comments section below.

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