Archive for the ‘Search Engine Optimization (SEO)’ Category
As noted in part one of the best SEO posts roundup for last year, with all the significant changes announced by Google in the past 12 months (at least six, detailed in a pair of posts below), “These are indeed “interesting times” for SEO professionals, with rapid and wide-ranging changes to the search landscape being announced at an accelerating pace.”
The general consensus is that the practice of SEO is becoming more strategic, less tactical; more content-driven, less technical. The winners should be organizations that focus on providing targeted, relevant, high-quality content, as well as their prospective customers; with the (little lamented) losers being the spammers, manipulators and black-hat SEO types.
What techniques still work in the new world of SEO? Which need to be discarded? What new tactics and ranking factors are most vital to understand? How should SEO professionals strategically align frameworks for maximizing online visibility and business results?
Find the answers to those questions and many others here in more than two dozen of the best SEO guides from the past year.
Expert SEO Guides and Tips
Noting that in any field, “once a myth has been established it hard to get rid off,” Joop Rijk debunks nine SEO-related myths including duplicate content penalties (“Duplicate content is not considered spam and sites do not get penalized for duplicate content. Google ignores duplicate content and has a way to determine which page they should rank”—though it doesn’t always get this right) and the 100 links-per-page limit (“Googlebot can crawl more than 100 links on a page and there is no specific [known] limit”).
SEO Strategies for People that Hate SEO by Search Engine Guide
Brian Dean offers a handful of simple yet effective rank-improving tips from people not naturally inclined to SEO work, from a clever tactic for getting mentioned in link roundups (one of the few remaining manual link-building strategies that still work) to how to get featured on resource pages.
SEO Makeover for 2014: A Practical Guide for Businesses by Portent
***** 5 STARS
David Portney presents an outstanding checklist of three dozen questions to ask and answer about the state of your site’s SEO, from content-related factors (Does each page have a page-relevant unique title tag? A page-relevant unique meta description? A clear and concise headline?) through links, navigation, and technical SEO considerations.
Top 19 SEO Experts Share Their Best Advice on SEO by Effective Inbound Marketing
Ayodeji Onibalusi curates a big list of helpful SEO tips and tricks from SEO experts including Kristi Hines (“don’t get tempted to buy into cheap SEO services. If someone’s offering 100 backlinks for $5, then they’re more than likely going to get you spammy links that you will pay dearly for in the long run”), Neil Patel (see the next entry), Ann Smarty (“If you love each article you are publishing online, you’ll see genuine interest to your content”), Tadeusz Szewczyk (a.k.a. Tad Chef), and Jayson DeMers (see the “Big Picture SEO Strategy” section below).
11 SEO Changes That Will Give You Big Results by QuickSprout
Neil Patel shares 11 effective but lesser know techniques for optimizing search results, such as capitalizing on the internal-link building power of 404 error pages; creating dynamic infographics; using what he calls the “skyscraper technique” (this blog is an example); and incorporating “most clicked-through words” (such as “how to,” “tips” and “best”) in headlines.
Rethink Link Building for Best B2B Marketing by MLT Creative Ideas@Work Blog
Guest author Jeremiah Smith notes that the old ways of link building are dead (at best, pointless), social sharing is critical, and conversion rate optimization (CRO) supports SEO efforts. He concludes the post with a five-step process for optimizing not just rankings, but also bottom-line business results.
In Search of SEO? Have Content, Be Social by BroadSuite
Dan Newman details several ways in which the practice of SEO has changed over the past 18-24 months, particularly in terms of the role of content (and more importantly, the importance of business blogging: “Even the most optimized B2B site if just a static products and services website will have a hard time growing and sustaining traffic”) and the role of social sharing (“7 of the top 8 factors driving SEO are Social Sharing related and not traditional SEO drivers whatsoever”).
Search Engine Click Through Rate Optimization (+Infographic) by Marketing from the Front
***** 5 STARS
Brent Carnduff reports on some eye-opening research findings in this post which reminds one of a Geico commercial: Did you know that the top four organic search results get 83% of all clicks? Of course, everyone knows that. Okay, but did you know that “As searcher intent becomes more detailed or specific (long tail term), the click distribution across the first page organic listings begins to even out”? That makes, as Brent explains, CTR optimization as important as SEO.
New SEO Best Practices with Schema Markup #SESCHI by TopRank Online Marketing Blog
Confused by what a “schema” is or why you’d bother with one? Brian Larson helpfully walks through the history of this (no longer new) tactic, how it works in action, what the classifications are, and how to get started with schema markup tools, all based on a presentation by Anne F. Kennedy at SES Chicago.
Technical SEO for Nontechnical People by Search Engine Watch
For those confuzzled by technical SEO terms and techniques, Erin Everhart patiently explains “the basics behind what you need to look out for with technical SEO,” including redirects and status codes, canonicals, duplicate uppercase and lowercase URLs (though search engines should really be able to figure this out), and URL parameters.
150 Blog Posts in 50 Days: Why Were Marketers Mad? by Search Engine Journal
McKay Allen details the results of a test to determine how a substantial ramp-up in content creation would affect search traffic, and the surprising response of (some) marketers. The bottom line is that while not all elements of “old school” SEO are dead, content development definitely needs to play a key role in go-forward search strategy.
Infographic: Companies with a blog get 55% more traffic by leaderswest
Jim Dougherty showcases a very helpful SEO infographic, which visually steps through techniques and best practices for on-page and keyword optimization, technical SEO factors, social signals, Google+ authorship, and generating links from inbound marketing.
Best Guides to Big-Picture SEO Strategy
6 Major Google Changes Reveal the Future of SEO by Search Engine Watch
Inviting readers to “take a few steps back and understand the big picture,” Eric Enge looks at half a dozen major changes from Google in 2013–from keyword (not provided) to in-depth articles, and ties them all together concluding “the six major Google changes listed above are all moves that” take tactical data out of the SEO picture and “encourage more strategic behavior.”
How recent Google changes affect your SEO by iMedia Connection
Similar to the post above, Nathan Joynt here reviews the major algorithmic and reporting changes made by Google over the past year, describes the impact of each on SEO efforts, and ties it all together in the end by stating, “one thing is clear: The value of an SEO strategy set on tactics involving direct manipulation of search results is becoming less effective…This is exactly what Google wants. They want inbound marketers and business owners to shift their primary focus away from Google and manipulative link and content schemes and concentrate this energy on each business’ target market and to create the best products, services, and content possible.”
5 Reasons You’ll Need to Increase Your SEO Budget in 2014 by Search Engine Journal
Jayson DeMers makes the case that SEO will require more dollars in resources in 2014, for among other reasons, that “cheap” tactics like keyword stuffing and low-quality backlink building no longer work (and may even backfire); the increasing importance of social media; and the need to produce a steady stream of fresh content.
Best Guides to Search Engine Ranking Factors
Cyrus Shepard unveils results from the the Moz semiannual (see also the wrapup of this from Rand Fishkin, below) survey of SEO professionals on ranking factors, and predicts which factors are likely to become more important (e.g., authorship metrics) and less important (e.g., exact keyword match domains0 over the next few years.
Weighting the Clusters of Ranking Factors in Google’s Algorithm by Moz
***** 5 STARS
Rand Fishkin explains some of the key takeaways from the Moz semiannual survey on ranking factors. The top three factors remain the quality and quantity of backlinks to a domain; quality/quantity of backlinks to specific pages; and page-level keyword and content features.
Infographic: Every ingredient that contributes to search engine ranking by leaderswest
***** 5 STARS
For those who prefer their ranking factors in a colorful, illustrated format, Jim Dougherty (again) shares a bookmark-worthy SEO infographic detailing 200 Google ranking factors, from domain factors like domain age and history through page-level factors, site-level factors, backlink factors, social signals and more.
Best Guides to SEO in the Keyword (Not Provided) World
Overcoming Google’s Keyword ‘Not Provided’ Data by Web Marketing Today
Kevin Webster outlines several strategies for dealing with keyword (not provided) in search analytics, such as benchmarking and optimizing search landing page traffic and performance: “The company should let go of the notion of ranking for a search term, and focus more on the idea of ranking for a search concept.”
Google ‘(Not Provided)’ Keywords: 10 Ways to Get Organic Search Data by Search Engine Watch
Jennifer Slegg reviews the motivations behind Google’s move to secure search, how the change affected the practice of SEO, and 10 methods for “replacing the (missing keyword) data now that Google isn’t providing it,” such as looking at non-Google search data, Google Webmaster Tools reports, and analyzing on-site searches.
Best Guides to SEO for Panda and Penguin
Life of an SEO Before, After and Beyond Penguin 2.1 an Infographic by WordPress SEO Cloud Hosting
Berrie Pelser presents a fantastically helpful graphical guide to SEO in the post-Penguin environment, which illustrates for example from spending time and money to obtain directory links (before Penguin) to spending time and money getting low-value links removed, and moving from article spinning to quality guest blogging.
How to Recover from Panda Dance by Kaiser the Sage
If your search rankings were mauled by Panda, Jason Acidre details seven techniques for recovering that lost traffic, including rich-snippet optimization (which “seems to be one of the best methods to use in responding to these recent algorithmic changes”), upgrading “evergreen” landing pages, and optimizing for local search.
Brian Rauschenbach offers half a dozen practical tips for SEO in the post-Panda world, among them: “Ensure that links to your site are natural. Panda likes links from quality sources but will come down hard on you (and may even exclude you from Google’s search results) if your site is inundated with overly targeted links, especially if they are sponsored…it’s clear that Google is looking to essentially reward companies and marketers who make a concerted effort to populate their sites with authoritative, useful, and shareable content.”
Best Guides to SEO for Hummingbird
5 Ways To Unlock The Benefits Of Semantic Search by Search Engine Land
Explaining that semantic search is intended to make search results “more personal, more engaging, more interactive and more predictive,” Barbara Starr offers guidance on how to unlock its benefits, from optimizing content based on user intent rather than keywords (based on Google patents in this area) to fully leveraging Google+ and implementing appropriate semantic markup.
Hummingbird Unleashed by Moz
Gianluca Fiorelli recommends taking using a philological (based on the original documents and observation of effects) method to adapt to Google’s algorithmic changes, and details the results of his “study of those documents and field observations” pertaining to Hummingbird, how Hummingbird works, how large the impact is, and most importantly–how to do “Hummingbird-friendly” SEO (e.g., follow technical SEO best practices, build the right kinds of links, and use analytics to optimize social media marketing efforts).
Hummingbird’s Impact On B2B Sites by Search Engine Land
Contending that “The new Hummingbird algorithm will revolutionize the way B2B companies market their sites in search,” Harrison Jones explains how Hummingbird works, how that is likely to affect search rankings and traffic for b2b websites, and how those sites can capitalize on the algorithm change to draw more–and more relevant–traffic from search engines.
Somewhat echoing the points made in the post above, Laurie Sullivan writes that “Search engine marketers need to put aside attempts to raise their brand’s Web site to the top of first-page query rankings through old-fashioned optimization techniques and focus on content,” and more specifically, that they should “Use objects, images, and videos, and with the correct semantic structure the content will get grabbed” by the search engines.
The digital marketing blogs and media have lit up in the last couple of days with reports that “guest blogging is dead,” based on this post from Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s Webspam team.
The post was widely misinterpreted to mean “stop doing guest blogging,” as even Matt acknowledged in a later addition to his original post:
“I’m not trying to throw the baby out with the bath water. There are still many good reasons to do some guest blogging (exposure, branding, increased reach, community, etc.). Those reasons existed way before Google and they’ll continue into the future. And there are absolutely some fantastic, high-quality guest bloggers out there. ..I just want to highlight that a bunch of low-quality or spam sites have latched on to ‘guest blogging’ as their link-building strategy, and we see a lot more spammy attempts to do guest blogging. Because of that, I’d recommend skepticism (or at least caution) when someone reaches out and offers you a guest blog article.”
The point is pretty clear. Guest posting done with the interest of the community and readers in mind still have value. But attempts at getting guest posts published in a manipulative manner, purely or primarily for the SEO benefit of the backlinks, are no longer going to be effective (and by implication, may even lead to penalties or ranking degradation).
And the gray area isn’t even that large; it’s generally fairly easy to separate legitimate guest post requests from the spammy ones.
Sender: legitimate guest post requests will generally come from people you know, or have heard of, or who at least seem to have a reputable online presence and can tell you exactly why they want to write for your blog (beyond just “Hey, I love your blog!”).
Relevance: a legitimate request will generally focus on one specific post, suitable for your audience and relevant to your typical topics and style. For example, this post on fascinating social media facts and statistics was a great fit for Jeff Bullas’ blog, because it meshes well both topically and stylistically with the kinds of posts Jeff often writes. But this style would not have worked as well on a site like Social Media Examiner.
Spammy guest posters, on the other hand, are often miraculously able to write a post on any topic from household cleaning tips to space travel—or a custom topic if you prefer! Ugh.
Compensation: Matt calls this out specifically in his post, noting that “email offering money to get links that pass PageRank (are) a clear violation of Google’s quality guidelines.” A legitimate guest blogger offers a post that has value to your blog in and of itself, and so would not propose monetary compensation.
Backlinks: virtually all guest posts include backlinks. Nothing wrong with that alone. The difference here between a legitimate and a spammy request is 1) the purpose of the links: do they appear to be there to guide the reader to additional, relevant information—or are they trying to sell something, or link to a page with little or no relevance to the post? (or worse, to something sketchy like an online pharmacy site); and 2) the author’s approach to the links. If he or she is comfortable with you changing, deleting, or no-following the links, then the guest post is clearly not just a spammy attempt at link building.
Comfort level: this is a bit amorphous, and will vary among individuals, but essentially: based on what you know about the person proposing the guest post, would you be open to connecting with him or her on various social media platforms? Possibly even to—under the right circumstances—write your own guest post for that person’s blog?
For example, there’s been some cross-posting over the years between Webbiquity and the Blue Focus Marketing blog. The cross-posting is decidedly non-spammy because both blogs focus on b2b marketing and branding; Cheryl and Mark Burgess are excellent writers and authors; and they are awesome people. It would make sense even in the absence of any SEO benefit (though there likely is, still, some).
Motivation: as Matt notes in the addition to his original post quoted above, “There are still many good reasons to do guest blogging.” It increases brand awareness, provides the opportunity to connect with a new audience, and helps increase overall web presence for a brand or product.
And Matt’s post doesn’t specifically say that no type of guest blogging still provides some SEO benefit—only that guest-blogging is no longer effective as a large scale link-building strategy, and that he would “recommend skepticism (or at least caution) when someone reaches out and offers you a guest blog article.”
While Google can’t look into a blogger’s heart to determine true motivation, it can and presumably will continue to look at characteristics like a site’s overall link profile (do guest post links make up an inordinate share of all backlinks?) and the quality of linking sites in determining rankings.
This latest development will also likely increase the importance of Google Authorship as a way to separate legitimate guest authors from spammers.
In short, guest blogging is not dead. Far from it. The only thing that has died is the practice of generating large numbers of backlinks through spammy email outreach for guest posts. And good riddance.
Although the beauty of the Internet for enterprises and publishers is its global reach (for example, one out every eight visitors to this blog is from the U.K., and Webbiquity is one of the 10,000 most popular websites in Thailand[!]), for many businesses, it’s value lies more in connecting them with searchers very close by.
What are the most important ranking factors in local search optimization? Which local directories are best at driving referral traffic (and helping with SEO)? What emerging trends will impact local search?
Discover the answers to those questions and more in these expert guides to local SEO.
The Ultimate Local SEO Roadmap by Inbound Interactive
***** 5 STARS
Amy Nokinsky provides an outstanding guide to local SEO, with detailed explanations of more than two dozen specific tactics organized into five categories: (initial) research and analysis, keyword research, website optimization Google+ optimization, and progress tracking. This is a post well worth bookmarking and sharing.
Miriam Ellis posits the 20 most important factors for ranking local search, then details each of the factors which include physical business address, domain authority of the website, verified Google+ Local page, quality of inbound links, inclusion of city and state in meta title tags, and (where applicable) quality of third-party reviews.
Writing that “Every individual directory that you submit to is another chance to get found online, so it’s important to make sure you’re listed in every directory possible,” Eric Vreeland spills the goods on more than four dozen directories important for driving local traffic as well as improving local search rankings.
The Future of Local Search: 5 Layers of Local by Search Engine Watch
Contending that “To improve your local search strategy for both now and the future, you need to understand the growing importance of local data, personalization, emerging technologies, new transaction methods, and delivery,” Amanda DiSilvestro delves into the “five layers” of local search optimization, from data (“Work on citation building and monitor your ratings and reviews”) to delivery, then explains how to win in the future world of local search.
Though Google’s move to keyword (not provided) has changed analytics and eliminating the Keyword Planner tool has impacted SEO practices, keywords still matter.
Indeed, as the volume of online verbiage explodes—91% of b2b marketers have embraced content marketing; the web now contains at least 1.65 billion pages; Internet users collectively created and shared nearly four zettabytes of information in 2013, and the volume continues to grow—identifying and properly using the optimal keywords for your audience is arguably more vital than ever.
Fortunately, tools and methods for keyword discovery and analysis have advanced as well. How can you maximize the value of Google’s “dumbed down” Keyword Planner tool? What other tools and resources are most valuable for keyword research? How can you use keyword research results more strategically?
Find those answers and more here in a handful of the best expert SEO keyword research guides of the past year.
Google’s decisions to hide referring keywords from organic search and to replace its Keyword Research tool with the dumbed-down Keyword Planner have made keyword research more challenging. But Samantha Winchell here recommends 10 helpful alternative paths to finding the best keyword phrases for optimization, from the keywords associated with your most popular blog posts to online industry forums.
Google Keyword Planner: The Ultimate Guide by Razor Social
***** 5 STARS
Confused by Google’s new “lite” keyword research tool? Ian Cleary helpfully explains how Google’s new Keyword Planner tool works, how to access it, the differences between the new tool and more-robust-but-now-discontinued Keyword Research tool, and the three options for performing keyword research with the new tool.
The Hidden Guide To Keyword Research by Reporb SEO Business Courses
This detailed and excellent primer on keyword research steps through why keyword research is vital, how to identify the most promising keywords for your site, how to use the Google Keyword Research tool (now defunct, so see Ian’s article above on how to use the Keyword Planner tool instead), and the pros and cons of 10 alternative keyword research tools.
The brilliant and prolific Ann Smarty shows how to use the Google Suggest keyword research tool, expanding each phrase to the second and third levels to produce a huge list of actual organic keyword phrases, not skewed toward commercial searches.
12 Tips for Keyword Selection to Guide Your Content Marketing SEO by Content Marketing Institute
Mike Murray lists a dozen questions to ask when conducting keyword research in support of content marketing efforts, from “Have I mined keyword research resources?” (beyond Google and other obvious tools) to “How will this keyword phrase choice fit into future content?” (strategically planning ahead for future content, not just immediate projects).
In late 2011, Google began redirecting users who were signed into their Google accounts to the encrypted (https) version of the search engine, beginning the keyword (not provided) era. At the time, Matt Cutts assured everyone that the change would only affect single-digit percentages of all organic search traffic reporting.
The reality was, of course, much different. Marketers, webmasters and SEO professionals quickly saw the share of (not provided) keywords rise to the 20%, 30%, even 40% ranges. Then, on September 23, 2013, Google dropped the hammer, encrypting all search traffic and thus hiding keyword referral data for all of its organic search traffic.
The initial response of digital marketing professionals was…panic. Even Rand Fishkin, while not quit declaring the death of search engine optimization, called keyword (not provided) the first existential threat to SEO.
Google’s move did not, of course, “kill” SEO, but it did force marketers to adopt a broader framework to optimize overall web presence. And it forced SEO and analytics professionals to get more creative in how they analyzed and assessed organic search keyword data. Here are half a dozen of the best guides to measuring organic search phrase results in a keyword (not provided) world.
12 Ways to Measure Content Effectiveness After Google’s “Not Provided” Decision by Content Marketing Institute
***** 5 STARS
While many SEO writers offered tips on how to continue to get organic keyword insights after Google stopped providing referring keyword data last fall, this post is one of the best: Mike Murray steps through a dozen techniques for organic keyword analysis, from opening an AdWords account and using Bing/Yahoo data through tracking search rankings and analyzing organic search landing page data.
Search: Not Provided: What Remains, Keyword Data Options, the Future byh Occam’s Razor
***** 5 STARS
In his typical thoroughly researched, profoundly well thought-out, incredibly detailed, and richly illustrated style, Avinash Kaushik examines the implications of the loss of organic keyword data; helpful metrics that remain available (such as Mutli-Channel Funnels in Google Analytics, organic landing page reports, and paid keyword data); alternatives for keyword data analysis; and possible future solutions (such as “page personality analysis”). It’s a great deal to absorb, but worth reading and bookmarking.
Google Webmaster Tools Search Query Data is Accurate (and Valuable) by Search Engine Watch
Yes, Google Webmaster Tools (WMT) data has become more valuable in the wake of the universal (not provided) issue, but no, it certainly isn’t perfect. Ben Goodsell does an exemplary job here explaining the value of GMT data for SEO analytics, the limitations of the data, and a “secret” workaround to get a bit more detail out of WMT reports.
(Not Provided) Changes the SEO Landscape by iMedia Connection
Dave Murrow steps back and takes a broad view of the keyword (not provided) issue, speculating on why Google may have made the change and recommending that marketers embrace not just new analytics tactics to deal with the loss of organic keyword data, but also strategic changes to website optimization overall.
Not Provided Keywords – SEO Reporting Without Keyword Data by SEER Interactive
Michelle Noonan walks through six techniques to help compensate for the loss of Google organic keyword data, inlcuding both the usual sources—Google WMT data, YaBing visits, keyword rankings—and unique ideas like reporting on referral traffic and looking for “unique markers to track” based on each specific client’s objectives and situation.
Ideas for Keyword (Not Provided) by LunaMetrics
Reid Bandremer lists 15 ideas for dealing with Google’s “keyword not provided” issue—including Google Webmaster Tools data, aksing users, and using paid data sources—but concludes that “There’s simply no magic bullet and no single one-size-fits-all solution to solving 100% keyword (not provided). Instead, what we have currently is a very complicated set of many different methods to uncover little gaps in insights left by (not provided).”