Digital / SEO

Advanced SEO 101: Terminology and methodology

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Advanced SEO methodologies refers to the techniques, tactics, and strategies used to get your website’s pages ranking further to the top of a search engine’s results pages (SERPs).

Why bother? Have you been trying to outrank your competitors but no matter what you tried, they are still on top of you? You had the meta tags done, content right, even a nice backlink from CNN but no luck.

Perhaps you missed out on something down the ground and those things are hidden in the corner that you have not seen yet.

You can stop overlooking now.

There’s a lot that goes into improving one’s site rank but the end goal isn’t to work around search engines. Rather, you partner with them to provide the best possible search results for their (and your) users.

Search engines like Google aim to display useful websites to their users. But in order to let Google processes your site smoothly, your site should be spoon-feeding ready.

Advanced SEO is an SEO technique that requires technical or vertical specialised knowledge to implement and qualify search engine’s requirements. The definition will vary from person to person but the main takeaway is that you’re unlikely to master these techniques without a lot of time and persistence – or someone in your corner.

As that someone, today we’re going to look at a few advanced SEO methods, techniques, and terminologies that not everyone knows about.

Advanced SEO terminology

Before you jump into a methodology, you first have to understand the jargon or terminology used. Here are a few of the likely suspects of advanced SEO you’re going to run across.

HSTS Headers

laptop in dark background prepared for advanced Seo works

An HSTS header is an HTTP Strict-Transport-Security response header. It lets a website tell a browser that it must only be accessed via HTTPS rather than the general HTTP.

It’s a method for web applications to ensure they use Transport Layer Security (TLS) to facilitate secure transport. It protects your users against active man-in-the-middle and passive eavesdropper attacks, ensuring your data is kept as secure as possible. It also goes on to enforce strict security such as click-through certificate overrides and preventing mixed content. Further, it protects against web server mistakes such as loading JavaScript over a connection that hasn’t been secured.

The HSTS handbook was fully developed for the savvy which can be found here.

Think of HSTS as an umbrella against all the above attacks. But what does this have to do with SEO?

In addition to adding extra security to your site, implementing HSTS will also boost your SEO. How? Using HSTS will make your web pages load faster.

Load time is essential when it comes to both user experience and search engine rankings. Particularly with the increase in mobile usage and Google’s mobile-first initiative well underway, page load speed is more essential than ever.

AMP

a hand holding a mobile phone in blur background shows AMP on screen

AMP is short for “Accelerated Mobile Pages.” Launched as a joint initiative by Google and several other companies, it’s an Open Source Framework that helps you create simple mobile websites that load almost instantaneously. Some characteristic features of AMP include reduced CSS and JavaScript elements, and the implementation of a Content Delivery Network.

We now search more than ever on our mobile devices – far more than desktops. The AMP was developed with one main goal: to ensure fast load times for mobile users.

As you can imagine, this is a boon for SEO as well. With Google and other search engines prioritising load times, a framework like this can only be of benefit.

AJAX

laptop on the table with Ajax codes on the screen

Asynchronous JavaScript And XML (AJAX) is a technique for developing fast and dynamic web pages. It allows web pages to update asynchronously by exchanging small packets of data with a server behind the scenes. This makes it possible to update sections of a page without reloading the whole thing.

AJAX and SEO have a torrid relationship. Because search engines typically only parse information on a fully rendered page, updating that content without reloading can introduce some foibles.

Luckily, the internet has come a long way. There are methodologies you can use to make your AJAX applications more SEO friendly. You just have to put the extra effort into learning and implementing them.

Schema Markup (Data Structure)

google search results on mobile phone with serp features on the screen

Schema markup is semantic vocabulary that you write into the code of your website to aid search engines in return more informative results for your users. If you’ve ever used rich snippets, this is a good example of what schema markup is all about.

The contents of your webpage get indexed and returned in search results, obviously. However, with schema markup, you’re allowing some of that content to be indexed and returned in a separate way.

It’s essentially a way for you to tell a search engine what your content means. As you can imagine, this is a boon for both ranking and engagement. If someone searches for tickets to an event, you’re not just able to show them your ticket checkout page, but also a dynamic list of session times for them to see before they even click through to your site.

In the world of SEO nowadays, Schema Markup is one of the most underrated advanced tactics and NOT being utilised correctly. Google confirmed that using data structure correctly can improve targeting and improve the ranking.

But what’s the catch?

Similar to other factors when it comes to SEO, do not spam the schema! Another reason that many specialists do not have the confidence when approaching Schema Markup is due to its complexity and its massive list of types & attributes.

With that said, if the schema does not match your content, you know the drill! So make sure your business has the correct configuration from the professionals who understand Schema inside out like Pounce to implement it properly.

URL Normalisation

a webpage focus on the URL normalisation

URL canonicalization, also known as URL normalisation, is the way in which you modify or “normalise” your URL addresses to standardise them. Why is this important for SEO? It’s essential that your page have a clean and consistent URL structure to help search engines cut out any duplicate indexing.

URL normalisation is the most essential for home pages. If you have an inconsistent syntax for your page address, you may be accidentally creating many different possible “pages” for search engines to choose from.

Take a look at the following:

http://www.homepage.com

http://www.homepage.com/index.html

http://homepage.com

http://homepage.com/

Each of the above is a valid link to the domain, however, search engines run the risk of getting confused and indexing each of the different URLs as different websites. As you can imagine, duplication is a big NO for SEO.

This concept sounds simple but it can get extremely complicated. When it comes to different versions of the URL, normally it was caused by a bad code theme or from the hosting server itself. Therefore, fixing this issue requires a lot of diagnosis and developer time and is being leveraged as an advanced SEO tactic.

Most of the time, the issue becomes a middle ground, too late to fix because of the system complexity such as custom modules, external integration, and so on. Do not underestimate this or it will cause a nightmare in a long run.

ccTLDs

Short for Country Code Top Level Domain, a ccTLD shows search engines and users what country, dependent territory, or sovereign state a website is registered.

In Australia, our ccTLD is .com.au where the ccTLD is bolded.

ccTLDs are not only essential to impart geographical or political information to the user, but it’s also a means to tell search engines where in the world searchers who will find a site relevant reside.

While this is more of a link building strategy but for a local Australian business, having a lot of linking domains from Iraq does not look convincing. Google will start questioning and when they do, prepare for the consequences!

This can be considered as one of the most advanced SEO strategies of all time. When Google Penguin algorithm hit the surface in 2012, relevancy is so important for link building and outreaching. Especially for ccTLD, the more relevant TLD, the more your local business will outrank your competitors.

But how do you get them? That’s a whole different story.

UGC

UGC stands for User Generated Content. It’s any type of content created by users of online applications. It might be in the form of videos, photos, product reviews, and more. Highly trusted by consumers, it has a lasting impact on purchasing decisions over time. However, it’s also a boon for SEO.

Search engines will rank pages based on whether their content is useful and relevant. Because of this, integrating user-generated content into your SEO efforts is a great way to jumpstart your company’s search rankings and build social proof for your services and products.

Rel=”Sponsored” attribute

2019 saw Google announce two new types of link attribute. Similar to nofollow, you can now mark links as sponsored or UGC (user-generated content).

The sponsored attribute is designed to identify links that are specifically the result of paid placement. This might include advertorials, sponsored placements, paid links, and the like. These links work similarly to the original nofollow attribute – they tell search engines not to count the link as a “vote”.

It’s not known how precisely Google and other search engines use this data internally, but they’ve hinted that it will help their engines understand more about the link – which isn’t a bad thing. In essence, it might help them improve how they evaluate pages.

Pillar and Cluster Content

A pillar page is a high-level chunk of content that birds-eye overviews the main topic while linking out to in-depth articles about specific subtopics. It’s essentially a table of contents that orders and umbrellas cluster content.

Pillar pages are the bedrock of your content strategy and will often act as the main landing page within a content hub. How? They display your most essential content themes and introduce your users to different related subjects.

From an SEO standpoint, pillar pages are representations of relevance, context, and authority for search engines.

Cluster pages, on the other hand, are pages that drill down into specific subjects in depth. They allow for more specialised SEO targeting, often with long-tail keywords.

A successful SEO content strategy must have a combination of the two types of content: pillars and clusters.

We have dedicated tips & tricks to deliver top-notch SEO friendly content here.

3 factors that lead to a successful SEO project with advanced SEO techniques

Now you have a bit of the jargon in your arsenal, let’s look at some of the ways you can implement what you’ve learned.

1. Make Google understand your site

The best SEO strategy involves working with Google and other search engines to help them better parse and contextualise your site. You have to make sure your code is semantic and easy to parse, that you make use of attributes, and that your content is clear.

2. Avoid over optimising – Advanced SEO will not always make your site better

Over-optimisation might seem like a non-sequitur, but in reality, too many SEO efforts can negatively impact your rank. Over-optimisation is essentially telling search engines that you’re more focused on appealing to them than to users – and they’ll punish you for it.

When optimising your site for SEO, ensure you’re putting your users first. As the saying goes: if your users love you, the search engines will follow.

The same rules applied for outdated SEO tactics, stay away from that and utilise a quality SEO agency that will make sure the best practices are in place.

3. Build trust with advanced SEO methods

You have to build up trust in the eyes of search engines like Google. They have to view you as an authority in your field – a valued source of accurate, relevant information for their users.

How do you do this? A solid content strategy and a lot of persistence. Google expects you to deliver value to their users, so that’s what you have to do. Stay on top of market trends and industry news. Develop content that targets your users’ pain points and offers them relevant answers to their most asked questions.

You want to be a trusted authority in your field? Put in the hard yards and prove to Google that you’re worth indexing accordingly.

Harness the power of Advanced SEO

Advanced SEO is a science and art in one. You have to have an in-depth knowledge of technical aspects, yes, but you also need to know people. With this guide, you’ll be in a better position to implement advanced SEO techniques.

Keen to get more traffic? Here are 4 steps to boost your organic reach.

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