Archive for the ‘Search Engine Optimization (SEO)’ Category
As the search ranking algorithms used by Google and the other major search engines have become more sophisticated, the practice of SEO has gotten easier to explain (create great content, earn links) but much more challenging to execute.
The infographic below illustrates SEO best practices—the key “do’s” and “don’ts”–for 2015. Most of this advice will be familiar to anyone who spends much time doing or reading about SEO, but a few points are worth noting.
- • Do make your site accessible by including a site-search box and using breadcrumbs. Neither idea is new, yet many sites still don’t incorporate these two navigation-friendly elements.
- • Don’t overdo links on your home page. It’s tempting, as pages directly linked from the home page tend to rank better in search. But if overdone, this tactic wrecks the design, slows page load time, and consequently harms search rank more than helping.
- • Don’t duplicate content. “If your site differs across various geographic areas, create individualized content for those pages.”
- • Make sure the most important content on each page is near the top, “above the fold.”
- • Though social signals are important to SEO, “don’t spend money on bots that artificially share your content. These are detectable by search engines and can incur penalties thus negatively affecting your rankings.”
- • Don’t overload pages with information to try to game rankings–but do produce some pages with longer, more detailed content. As noted here, “The average content length for a web page that ranks in the top 10 results for any keyword on Google has at least 2,000 words.”
Without further ado, here is the SEO tactics checklist for 2015.
As Geddy Lee of Rush sang in the band’s 1981 hit Tom Sawyer, “changes aren’t permanent. But change is.”
While he wasn’t referring to SEO (which wouldn’t really exist for another 16 years), the lyrics certainly apply.
Search engine algorithms are constantly being updated. SEO practices which may be very effective one day are useless the next, and then actually invite penalties, before being once again ignored.
So what’s an SEO professional to do? Which tactics are most likely to stand the test of time–and which should be avoided? What needs to be done to recover from search engine penalties? What’s most important–on-page optimization, link building, or technical SEO? What are the current best practices (and which aren’t worth spending time on) in each area?
Find the answers to those questions and many more here in four dozen phenomenal SEO guides, tips and tricks from the past year.
Guides to SEO for Beginners
The Complete Beginner’s Guide to SEO by Buffer
***** 5 STARS
Before you turn up your nose at yet another beginner’s guide to SEO, check this one out. The practice of SEO has (of course) changed considerably over the past few years, and Courtney Seiter recognizes those changes in this noteworthy guide explaining what exactly SEO is today, how search engines rank content, and what SEO professionals do now to optimize websites for search.
SEO for Dummies: Learn SEO in 10 Simple Steps by Social Media Today
SEO isn’t easy, but according to Brian Hughes, it is simple. He walks through 10 basic steps for site optimization here, from getting the foundation right and doing keyword research through on-page content, meta tags, and link building (“Focus on link building through content marketing, blog writing, guest blogging, infographics, site directories (CAREFULLY), and other tools that allow you to leave online footprints leading back to your site”).
Infographic: Search Ranking Made Simple by Sword and the Script
Frank Strong showcases an infographic from Neil Patel that provides a simple, widely accepted explanation of how Google’s search algorithm (probably) works, including the importance of keyword domains, image optimization, domain age, social shares, title tags, keyword repetition, content length, and other factors.
15 Step SEO Checklist for 2015 by Social Media Today
Jason Parks serves up solid advice “to ensure that you are well prepared for 2015″ in SEO terms. Among his 15 steps are title tags, on-page content (keywords used naturally, not stuffed), video, site audits, and otpimized photos (“use alt tags to help describe your image. Google image search only gets a half a percent of Google’s overall traffic. But due to blended search results, images actually get a lot more traffic than that half a percent”).
Expert SEO Guides, Tips and Tricks
Alex Schultz, the VP of Growth at Facebook (and formerly marketing manager at eBay) “has no educational background in marketing, instead opting to get his masters in physics at University of Cambridge.” In this fascinating post, he shares strategies for growing website traffic, the importance of customer retention, finding your “north star metrics,” and SEO (“the single most important thing is to get valuable links from authoritative sites. Then you need to internally link effectively”) among other topics.
How Long Does SEO Take To Start Working? by Forbes
Joshua Steimle writes that the answer to the tragically common question “How long will it take me to get ranked #1 for my keywords?” is not simple, “because the question itself is misguided.” SEO has changed, with searchers now making much greater use of longer phrase and natural language search (driven in part by the use of Siri and other voice-based tools). He goes on to state that it takes roughly four to six months for SEO efforts to start showing results, but to “bear in mind this is when you start seeing results, and SEO results grow over time.”
Lauren Polinsky summarizes “the most important and interesting issues” which may face SEO professionals in 2015 and beyond, from multichannel reporting, local search, and mobile optimization, through monitoring brand citations (“brands will want to work on building more citations, linked or unlinked, from authoritative websites”).
The SEO “Food” Pyramid by The Elumynt of William Harris
Creatively using the traditional “food pyramid” as a metaphor for SEO, William Harris places architecture (proper coding, optimized page titles, correct use of headers, an XML sitemap, etc.) at the base, with a healthy SEo program layering on smaller portions of content creation, promotion, UX, and social signals–topped off with (careful) link building.
Content Quality Score: Google’s Best Kept Secret For Rankings by Mace Dynamics
**** 4 STARS (would be five if not for the popups)
Contending that “Every page indexed by Google has a content quality score assigned to it. This score directly influences how well a page ranks in Google. This however is not promoted by Google and few webmasters or SEOs are even aware of it,” Terence Mace supplies an in-depth post covering quality signals, page purpose, “Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) pages…(which) are pages that can impact a person’s future happiness, health or wealth,” quality factors, EAT (expertise-authority-trust), and much more.
How To Use SEO To Boost Your Brand’s YouTube Channel by MediaPost
Writing that “YouTube, the second most-searched site with one billion monthly unique users, delivers a massive potential impact for SEO to drive visitors to a brand’s video channel,” Jeremy Walker shows how to optimize your YouTube channel to maximize your brand exposure on the site, from video element optimization (title, description, locations, etc.) through integrating your YouTube channel with your Google+ account.
5 Keys to Improving Search Rankings with Duane Forrester of Bing by Stone Temple Consulting
Eric Enge talks to Bing’s Duane Forrester about the keys to improving SEO rank on Bing. Link building is somewhat surprisingly at #4 of Forrester’s five top areas. Content remains number one, though he warns, “The reality is that it’s not up to you to decide if (your site has) quality content. The quality is determined by the interaction of the visitor to your website. If they’re interacting with it, if they’re finding value in it, then there’s quality to it.”
7 Things That Will Improve Your SEO More Than SSL by Search Engine Watch
Erin Everhart deconstructs Google’s announcement late last summer than SSL may impact organic search rankings. She concludes that while SSL may indeed play a small role in SEO success, many other factors carry far more weight; she details seven of those here, including consistent URLs (“the link you use in your internal linking strategy, and the links you use in your XML Sitemap need to match”), relevant content, and CTA-friendly title tags (include “action words — Shop, Buy, Apply, etc — in…title tags”).
Laurie Sullivan reports that enterprise marketers generally view SEO as critical to achieving their ojectives, but also challenging to be successful with. Among the specific research findings here are the top SEO challenges businesses face: “41% find link building one of the more difficult strategies, and 39% call out keyword research management as a close second. Some 33% admit that quality content creation proves challenging, followed by 30% for social media integration; 28%, frequent blogging; 26%, frequent Web site updates; 22%, mobile search optimization; and 13%, local search optimization.”
SEO Tutorial. The ultimate SEO 2.0 guide by Seolution
***** 5 STARS
Albert Mora compiles one of the most valuable and comprehensive guides available for SEO in 2015. One warning though – at nearly 6,000 words (plus a lot of pictures), this is no quick read, not a post to skim. It’s one to bookmark as a vital reference. Not every resource or tactic cited is appropriate in all situations. It’s also a lot of work–but then, successful SEO always is.
Cyrus Shepard presents “a simple framework for on-page topic targeting in a way that makes optimizing easy and scalable while producing richer content for your audience” in this graphical guide covering keyword research, keyword relationships (position, frequency, distance), internal links, semantic markup, page titles and more.
The Ultimate Guide to Enterprise SEO by SERPs
Enterprise-level SEO–optimizing thousands of pages, often across multiple subdomains and interlinked microsites as well as a mothership site–is different from working on smaller sites. Activities have to scale, there are more people involved, more politics, more planning, etc. This comprehensive guide details the elements of enterprise SEO, the environment, and the unique challenges, as well as providing additional useful references.
Dealing With Onsite Duplicate Content Issues by Search Engine Watch
Navneet Kaushal clarifies the causes of on-site (common in ecommerce) and off-site (caused by content syndication, as one example) duplicate content issues, and how to deal with them using tactics like 301 redirects, the “rel=canonical” tag, meta tags, and a consistent internal linking strategy.
Asking “Does SEO boil down to making a site easily crawlable and consistently creating good, relevant content?,” Rand Fishkin answers–no. He lists some of the variety of inputs and tactics that go into successful site optimization, noting these are “why SEO is neuropsychology. SEO is conversion rate optimization. SEO is social media. SEO is user experience and design. SEO is branding. SEO is analytics. SEO is product. SEO is advertising. SEO is public relations.” And more.
The Truth about Video SEO by acSellerant Studios
Bob Leonard transcribes his interview with video SEO expert Daniel Loeschen of LT Creative Media on how to search-optimize video content. Among Daniel’s advice: “Videos that are meant to drive traffic to your site should ONLY be hosted on your site. If you want to create a video that is specifically for branding and getting your name in front of people, then YouTube, Vimeo, etc. are great for that…(for on-site video) add the video to the most recent site map of your website and update Google webmaster tools with it.”
10 Clever Strategies Content Marketers Use To Earn Links by Shareaholic
Danny Wong forwards tips from the Young Entrepreneur Council on how to get high-quality links through content (other than guest blogging), such as by creating highly sharable content like infographics; developing quizzes and contests; writing controversial content (certainly a strategy to use with caution); and developing blog-based courses using expert interview videos.
7 Hot SEO Tips and Tricks for Blogs by RazorSocial
Ian Cleary passes along seven helpful tips for improving blog rank in search, among them internal link building (“When you write content on your website, find relevant articles that you have already published on your site to link to. As the value of the new post goes up, the value of the link goes up too”); revisiting older posts that aren’t ranking quite as well as they could; and strategic (not spammy) guest posting.
The Complete Guide to Google Webmaster Tools by Positionly
***** 5 STARS
Kristi Hines delves into “why you need to be using Google Webmaster Tools to monitor the health of your website in Google search and to learn more about your search engine optimization efforts” and how to make the best use of all the site’s capabilities in this highly bookmark-worthy post. The Search Queries section is popular with SEO pros, but not everyone knows that “If you click on a keyword, you’ll be shown which pages rank for that keyword, along with details about those pages.”
Rae Hoffman collects her live tweets from the “Meet the Search Engines” session at SMX last year, reporting among other interesting tidbits of SEO news a kindler, gentler Panda release from Google; the impending scale-tipping of mobile over desktop searches; Google’s premeditated attack on MyBlogGuest; and that ranking well on Bing is a matter of “content, usability, social signals and link building”–in that order.
How Top Ranking Brands Like Moz and HubSpot REALLY Do SEO by Social Media Today
Noting how crucial earned links are to SEO success today, Chad Pollitt explains how some high-ranking brands have achieved their search visibility, and outlines a four-step process companies can use to emulate them–essentially a combination of research-driven content creation coupled with social and traditional media promotion, in line with a web presence optimization (WPO) approach.
18 Social Media SEO Resources to Improve Your Search Ranking by Social Media Examiner
Patricia Redsicker explores how social media impacts search and then shares resources that support “best practices for social media SEO,” such as How to Customize Your Social Share Buttons for Increased Traffic, which “walks you through the process of pre-populating social media share buttons for Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Facebook with links to your own website.”
Though content marketing is unquestionably valuable for SEO, it’s not by any means the only tool in the box. Here, Rand Fishkin (again) explains “six out of probably 600 ways that you can earn higher rankings without investing in content creation or content marketing,” from using rich snippets and compelling page meta titles to fixing or deleting low SEO-value pages across a website.
Chris Lake provides an outstanding and comprehensive summary of user experience signals that help with search rankings. Most of these are just good UX practice, so the SEO benefit is a bonus. What’s surprising is the sheer number of signals that can affect search rank, from site speed and mobile-friendliness to button size, navigation, broken links, readability, and other factors.
21 Industry Experts Share Their SEO Tips For 2014 by Reginald Chan
Reginald Chan compiles the responses of 21 SEO pros to questions about how SEO is evolving and their favorite techniques. Adam Connell, Brent Carnduff, Eric T Tung, Kristi Hines, Neal Schaffer, and Tad Chef offer observations and tips like “SEO will…become more professional…content has always been at the center of…efforts (but) being an SEO who also masters UX and CRO can be a competitive advantage now.”
How Social Signals Impact Search Engine Rankings by QuickSprout
Writing that “Just because Facebook and Twitter aren’t driving you a ton of sales doesn’t mean you shouldn’t leverage them…both Google and Bing use data from social sites in order to determine how high to rank your website,” Neil Patel presents an infographic showing real-world examples of how social shares impact search results, along with a few tips on how to get more social shares.
How to Audit Your Website for Improved SEO and Conversions by Proven Rankings
Matt G provides a detailed guide to assessing the content and technical optimization of a website, asking questions like: Is your website optimized for maximum usability? Is it optimized for lead generation and conversions? Does it use responsive design? And are your website URLs optimized?
Brian Dean shares clever techniques for improving search rank by finding broken-link building opportunities on Wikipedia, discovering untapped keywords on Reddit, finding link prospects on Delicious, and 18 other tactics, including using “best of” lists to “find awesome link targets.” Hmm, “best of” lists…wonder where to find those?
11 reasons SEO is a science; 15 reasons it’s an art by BarnRaisers
Rob Petersen lists more than two dozen reasons SEO is both a science (e.g., “Value of the [back]links, whether they are high or low value authority, can be determined by SEO Majestic and Marketing Grader”) and an art (e.g., “Titles that convince people [to click] have clarity, creativity and imagination. The right keywords and key phrases just happen to be in them”).
The decay and fall of guest blogging for SEO by Matt Cutts
If you somehow missed this—or perhaps blocked it from your mind due to intense mental anguish—here’s the post where Matt Cutts declared that guest-blogging is dead. Except that he really didn’t; he only said that spammy guest-blogging purely for the purpose of generating backlinks is dead. Note this post generated nearly 700 comments. That’s enormous power—whether used for good or evil.
Guest Blogging and SEO: Still a Match Made in Heaven by QuickSprout
Here is Neil Patel (again), this time reacting to Matt’s post above, essentially clarifying what type of behavior he believes Google will actually punish, and how bloggers can still get value from guest-posting (e.g., “Focus on writing high quality content that actually educates the reader”). Fortunately for Neil, Google still doesn’t punish blogs for pop-ups.
The Ultimate Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Guide by Firepole Marketing
Observing that (as noted above) achieving higher search rank is “simple, but it isn’t easy,” Ahmed Safwan walks through a dozen SEO “sins” to avoid (including lack of proper keyword research, poor site speed, and creating URLs without keywords) along with a nine-step guide to optimizing a blog (or website) for search, from conducting keyword research the right way through ongoing measurement and adjustments.
SEO Checklist: 60 essential checks before launching a website by Web SEO Analytics
***** 5 STARS
Vasilis Vryniotis provides a detailed pre-launch SEO checklist for new websites, with 60 questions to ask in categories ranging from keyword optimization (“Did I choose the targeted keywords wisely? Have I made sure that I can compete for the selected terms?”) to technical website development, link structure, URL optimization and more.
Expert Guides to Google Algorithm Updates (Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird and Pigeon)
5 SEO Trends From 2014: What We Learned by NewsCred
Jayson DeMers looks back at five key developments in Google search from 2014 (including the “diminished impact of Google+…Social media marketers are still using Google+, to some degree, but search engine marketers are no longer viewing it as the significant platform they once projected” and the Pigeon update) as well as forward, with predictions regarding key optimization factors in 2015 and beyond.
An Introduction To Google’s Algorithm Updates by MediaPost
For those who aren’t immersed in SEO on a daily basis but still need a general understanding of how the field is continually evolving, Jeremy Walker provides “a quick primer on the most notable algorithm updates of the past five years and why they’re significant to marketers,” from Panda (first launched in February 2011) through Pigeon in July 2014 (which primarily affected local search results).
Marie Haynes provides a comprehensive summary of Google’s three most recent major algorithm updates, explaining the focus of each as well as how to recover from related penalties. Panda, for example, focused on thin, duplicate, and low-quality content; recovering from a Panda hit requires “removing thin and duplicate content” and then waiting “sometimes take several months for Google to revisit all of your pages and recognize the changes that you have made.”
5 Reasons a Site Hit by Google Penguin Won’t Recover by Search Engine Watch
Writing that “When Google launched the Penguin algorithm April 24, 2012, many sites who had relied strongly on low-quality link building were severely affected” and had difficulty recovering their former levels of search traffic, Marie Haynes (again) digs into a handful of common reasons for slow-or-no recovery, such as improper disavowing: “In almost every case, if you’re going to disavow a link, disavow it on the domain level.”
The Story of Google – a #DigitalHistory Infographic by Tamar
***** 5 STARS
From the launch of Google in 1998 through the beginning of AdWords and the first named updates in 2002 through Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird, this outstanding infographic illustrates all the major (and many of the minor) milestones in Google’s journey from startup to the world’s largest search engine.
No longer news, but helpful as a reference, this post from Pratik Dholakiya “takes readers through 11 of the most important Google search engine algorithm updates/changes of 2013,” from link devaluation and Panda (content quality) updates through increased emphasis on long-form, “evergreen” content and Hummingbird.
Expert Guides to Semantic Markup, Schema.org and the Google Knowledge Graph
6 Ways to Make Your Search Results Shine by Search Engine Watch
P.J. Fusco says “your content can leap off page-one results – if you are willing to invest a little time learning how to understand” the Google Knowledge Graph and how to use Schema.org structured markup. Fortunately, she writes, “adding structured markup is particularly easy” using Google Structured Data Markup Helper or WordPress plugins.
5 options for semantic markup to improve SEO by Smart Insights
For those on the technical side of SEO, Yusuf Bhana details “useful semantic HTML elements for SEO” including authorship, local business schema, product details (“Ecommerce businesses should consider product mark-up to incorporate product data such as colour, manufacturer, weight, height and price”), and breadcrumbs, with examples of each.
How Rich Snippets Add Spice to Your Online Content’s Search Results by Content Marketing Institute
Amanda DiSilvestro demonstrates how rich snippets can enhance a site’s appearance in search results, and how to get started with the most popular types of rich snippets including authorship and video: “When I want to use a video rich snippet, I use this link and enter in the URL or YouTube ID of my video. It automatically generates a source code for me to use, so I don’t need to know much about coding.”
Updates to SEO by MediaPost
Lauren Kade discusses how the Google Knowledge Graph works, what rich snippets are and how to use them, and “how to add (rich snippet) markup yourself using the data highlighter feature in Google Webmaster Tools” to make your site’s organic search listings look better.
How To Rank Above 25 In Search Queries by MediaPost
Laurie Sullivan (again) reports that “The Schema.org markup code aims to help Web sites rank better in search results, but only 36.6% of Google’s search results contain at least one Schema.org rich snippet and just 0.3% of the 50 million domains analyzed by Searchmetrics make use of Google’s Schema tools.” Consumer-oriented sites in particular can increase their probability of ranking higher by incorporating Schema markup language.
Google Sends Manual Penalty for “Spammy Structured Markup” by TrueLogic Online Solutions
Elrica Gosiengfiao reports that Google is “cracking down on rich snippet spam more actively,” exactly what this means, and how web developers can avoid problems of this type with Google; for example, follow Google’s rich snippet guidelines and “make sure the markups used are correct and use Google’s structured data testing tool to preview your snippets.”
The days of getting high search rankings based on high-volume, low-quality, easy-to-get links are long gone. Building quality links that will still positively impact rank now requires more work, more creativity, and a more sophisticated strategy for developing owned, earned, and shared links.
Are there any “easy” ways remaining to build worthwhile links? When should you disavow existing links? Which link building tools and tactics still have value? What link building techniques are “Penguin-safe”?
Find the answers to those questions and many others here in some of the best guides to link building in today’s search environment, from the past year or so.
The Low Hanging Fruit of Link Building by imFORZA Blog
While acknowledging that the “low-hanging fruit of link building” (links that are relatively easy to obtain) are not incredibly valuable on their own and represent just one component of a broader link-building strategy, Vinny La Barbera points out that such links nonetheless form a basis, particularly for new websites, and explains how to build such from sources like social profiles, local business directories, news releases, and social shares.
Link Madness by SEOBook
Peter Da Vanzo serves up an entertaining rant on link disavowing, recovering from Google penalties (or not), and “link paranoia.” He reminds readers that trying to “game” Google rankings is never a good strategy; diversifying traffic sources always is; and outlines a handful of “approaches to link building that will likely stand the test of time, and incorporate strategy that provides resilience from Google’s whims.”
How to Get Backlinks – The Ultimate Guide by Interwebs Institute
Though written primarily for SEO novices, even seasoned experts may find it worthwhile to skim this comprehensive post covering basic links types, how links convey authority, backlinking guidelines, black hat practices, backlinking tools, expert SEO resources, and common link-building tactics.
The Value of Referrer Data in Link Building by Search Engine Watch
Writing that “link building is not dead…links matter. The death is in links that are easy to manipulate,” Dave Davies explains the value of looking at referrer data in Google Analytics (“Apart from the fact that traffic is probably one of, if not the best, indicator of the quality and relevancy of a link to your site, your traffic data can also help you find the links you didn’t know you had and what you did to get them”), key questions to ask about those links, and how to find competitors’ link referral data.
12 Scalable Link-Building Tactics by The Moz Blog
Jason Acidre outlines a dozen tactics for non-spammy link building, such as creating your own database of premium images, conducting interviews with popular personalities (particularly helpful for new websites), reverse engineering competitors’ links, and link reclamation (i.e., reclaiming broken or outdated links to your site that have already been created).
7 FREE Link Building Tools For Post-Penguin Success by WebMechanix
Arsham Mirshah reviews seven free tools to help with link building efforts, including the SEOBook SEO Toolbar, about which he writes, “Not only is this a must-have for link building, but it’s also a necessary tool for anyone in SEO, period.” Do be a bit cautious with link building tools however; despite abiding by Google guidelines, the MyBlogGuest tool was hit with a Google penalty.
How Link Building Changed in 2013 by Search Engine Watch
Julie Joyce looks at what changed in link building during 2013, and how those changes impact link building tactics in 2014 and beyond. She covers Google’s major algorithmic updates, link disavoiwing and cleaup, changes made by Bing and Yandex, and changes in the industry (for example, “People talked more about building relationships than building links. This whole concept has been around for ages but in 2013, it really started to get much more attention”).
Link Building with the Experts – 2013 Edition by Sugarrae
Rae Hoffman interviews 10 SEO pros as well as providing her own answers about link building strategies and tactics for the post-Panda and Penguin search environment. Asked if links are becoming less important in Google’s ranking algorithm, Julie Joyce (again) pretty much sums up the opinion of the group, stating that “they are becoming a slightly smaller portion as other factors are being added in but not to a significant extent…Unless they (Google) rebuild the algorithm from the ground up, I don’t see the importance of links drastically decreasing.” This is a long piece but well worth a read.
The Future-Proof Link Building Strategy by Search Engine Journal
Aaron Aders lays out a link building strategy he says is future-proof because it “aligns with the ‘why’ behind search engine technology…At a high level, the strategy consists of creating and promoting great content. The tactical process is broken up into four sections: Research, Creative, Promotion and Conversion.” Hmm, sounds similar to the web presence optimization model.
How to Use Google’s Disavow Links Tool the Right Way by Search Engine Watch
Chuck Price outlines a seven-step process for using Google’s disavow links functionality, from conducting a link audit (using Google Webmaster Tools (alone), to submitting a reconsideration request (“Only if you’re under a manual penalty, will you need to file a reconsideration request. When filing your request, here are some key points to consider.”)
Google’s Disavow Tool: What You Need to Know, and 4 Common Myths by Search Engine Journal
Jayson DeMers explains how Google’s link disavow tool works, and importantly, what to do before [ITALICS] using the tool. He also dispels four common myths, such as that disavowing links can damage your site’s reputation in the eyes of Google: “Proper use of the Disavow tool is not going to cause Google to label you as a spammer, nor will it negatively affect your web profile.”
How To Get Out Of A Google Penalty [VIDEO] by Vertical Measures
If, God forbid, you try to do link building the right way but get caught up in a Google penalty anyway (perhaps because of past link-building activities by a less conscientious link builder), Ben Holland shows you how to recover using a six-step process that starts with downloading your backlink list from Google Webmaster Tools and running these through another tool, like Link Detox, that can help separate the good links from the dodgy ones.
5 Ways to Protect your Website from Google SEO Penalties by Search Engine Journal
In the good old days of link buidling, low-value links didn’t hurt, they just didn’t help. Addressing the (justified) paranoia caused by Google’s nasty Penguin, Marcela De Vivo recommends a handful of ways to avoid trouble, like auditing links monthly and creating Google Analytics Alerts for triggers such as “Google Organic Traffic decreased by more than 5%.”
Link Building Without Magic by SEOCustomer
According to Henrik Sandberg, Google is the only link-building tool you need–and he steps through his recommended process for tool-free link building, using tactics including blog commenting, guest blogging (“guest Blogging will not only give you traffic – it will also give you some great SEO juice”), directory and resource listing, and forums.
10 Powerful White Hat Link Building Strategies by Blogging Wizard
Adam Connell walks through 10 Penguin-safe link building techniques that he says “will give you the best results possible if you use them to build relationships,” such as linking out to other blogs (which, yes, is occasionally done here) though he warns that “An important thing to remember is this tactic won’t result in a link most of the time (at least not until you really get on the map and get right in front of the bloggers you’re linking to).”
Top 25 Free and Paid Link Building Tools for Serious Link Builders by Blogging Wizard
As a follow-up to the post above, Adam Connell provides brief reviews of more than two dozen helpful link-building tools, including Wordtracker’s Link Builder: “you can add a bunch of competitor URLs and immediately find where they are getting their links from. You can then also find link prospects by searching for pages that rank for a particular keyword which can be very useful.”
Transform Link Building into Brand Building for 2013 by Search Engine Journal
Pratik Dholakiya believes that “Links are important, crucial even, but sustainability means brand comes first,” and offers 10 tips for using traditional “link building” activities for more focused brand-building (or web presence building) instead–including news releases, guest posting, infographics, forums, and commenting.
“The past 12 months have been brutal for many traditional forms of link building. Techniques that once worked are now penalized,” according to Cyrus Shepard, who goes on to explain the “right way” in the current environment to do link building (or earning) using infographics, guest posts, media relations, and direct outreach.
Inorganic vs. Organic Backlinking Strategies: Getting Back to Basics by Search Engine Watch
Krista LaRiviere, CEO of web presence optimization software provider gShift Labs, makes the case that links are still vital in the post-Penguin world, but in order to have value (rather than causing problems), backlinks need to pass the RAID test (relevant, authoritative, influential, and diverse).
For nearly as long as there have been people working on search engine optimization, there have been SEO tools. The first tools handled only the most rudimentary tasks, like rank checking or keyword density analysis.
As search engine algorithms, and SEO professionals, have become more sophisticated over time, so have the tools. Today, there are (in many cases free, or low-cost) tools covering nearly every aspect of content design, on-page, off-page, and technical SEO.
Find out in this compilation of web tools and expert tool reviews from the past year and a half.
Helpful SEO Tools
This outstanding tool from Google evaluates the speed of both mobile and desktop access for any specified website, returns an overall score, and provides technical recommendations on for decreasing load time and improving site speed.
A slick free tool that reports, for any full URL: linking domains, inbound links, most linked countries, most linked keywords, page rank of linking domains, and new links within the past 30 days. This one deserves consideration for every SEO’s toolbox.
One of the best free broken-link checking tools available, the Online Website Link Checker will crawl for and report broken links on up to 500 pages and three levels down on any specified website, optionally across a whole domain or only a specified subdomain.
Expert SEO Tools Reviews and Guides
Free and Useful On-Page Optimization Tools by Internet Marketing Ninjas
Online tools expert Ann Smarty presents five useful tools for on-page optimization from the SEO Chat free tools beta are, among them the On-Page Optimization Analysis Tool , which analyzes “everything from meta data to keyword use iysis/n content and link accounting. It then breaks this all down for you, so you can get a more thorough look at how well your page has been optimized, and how you can optimize it even more.”
SEO Report: How to Track Blog Performance on Google by Razor Social
“To find out how likely it is that the blog posts you write will have an ongoing impact, you need to find out how well your blog content is currently doing. You can do this with an SEO report,” writes Ian Cleary; he then steps through the process of creating such a report using a series of tools, like SEMRush to discover what keywords your site ranks for, and Monitor Backlinks, which will “will email you every week with a summary of new and old links that changed in status.”
Free Local SEO Tools that Belong in Your Kit by The Moz Blog
Miriam Ellis provides detailed descriptions of more than a dozen helpful and free tools for local SEO, including the Generate local AdWords and keywords lists tool (much more helpful than Google Keyword Planner when trying to identify keywords with value in a specific geographic area) and the Free Local Analysis Google Places Tool, which, she writes, “Provides more rich data for local SEOs than almost any other free tool I’ve found!…I can also compare them to other local businesses using the tool.”
10 SEO Tools and Plugins You Need in 2014 by Web Content Blog
The English isn’t perfect, but the reviews are spot on. Most of the tools Gazalla Gaya reviews here are familiar (such as the outstanding WordPress SEO by Yoast, but a few are off the beaten path, among them HitTail (a fee-based long-tail keyword research tool) and the Virante AuthorRank tool for analyzing the influence of online authors according to Google ranking factors.
Ann Smarty (again) explains what rich snippets are, why they are important (“These little details are what causes your listing to ‘pop’ in a search, catching the eye of the user no matter what place on the first page you occupy”), and how to use specialized tools from SEO Chat to create specific types of snippets, such as the Event Rich Snippet Schema Generator to “show (event dates and times for quick reference.”
30 Awesome Free SEO Tools for Small Businesses by Search Decoder Blog
Matthew Capala offers links to and brief descriptions of two-and-a-half dozen free tools, from the the AdWords keyword traffic estimator and Übersuggest for keyword research to WidgetBox (a dynamic web widgets generator), Yext] for monitoring local SEO listings, and Visual.ly for creating infographics.
21 Best FREE SEO Tools for On-Page Optimization by Search Engine Watch
***** 5 STARS
Noting the importance of providing the best user experience to achieve and maintain top search results, Chuck Price reviews more than 20 free tools for onsite optimization, for functions like keyword research, content analysis, technical SEO, schema creation, and image optimization.
Google SEO Tools: 7 Tools to Drive more traffic to your blog by Razor Social
Ian Cleary (again) explains how to use Google’s free tools to help out with SEO efforts; not just the obvious ones (e.g., Webmaster Tools, Keyword Planner) but Google Trends, advanced search commands, and desktop and mobile speed search: “When Google makes available a tool to test out the speed of your website and provides suggestion for improvements you know you should be paying attention to this. When they provide similar for mobile you know you should pay attention to this also.”
15 Free SEO Tools For Evaluating Your Clients by Brad S. Knutson
The obnoxious full-screen pop-up unfortunately prevents this from getting a five-star rating, but once your past that, you’ll find here an outstanding list from Brad Knutson of free tools for evaluating key aspects of SEO: technical SEO, content and keyword research, local search, inbound links, traffic estimates, and social analytics.
Cyrus Shepard presents a huge, categorized list of completely free, free with paid option, and paid with free trial tools covering pretty much every aspect of SEO, from link research, rank checking and site speed testing to keyword research, link building and technical SEO.
A closer look at Google’s Webmaster Tools revamp by Econsultancy
Zoe-Lee Skelton provides a detailed look into GWT’s mid-2013 redesign, explaining the new navigation setup, what’s included under each heading, and new features, such as the ability to block pages: “You’re also able to request the ‘removal of URLs’ from Google’s Index if not already blocked in the robots.txt file. Use this feature if you have pages that you don’t want Google to find.”
3 Free SEO Tools for Auditing and Troubleshooting Onsite Issues by Search Engine Journal
Writing that ” It’s not uncommon in today’s SEO landscape to wake up and find a sudden drop of organic search traffic and/or keyword rankings…By taking advantage of the intelligence that is available for free, brands with low budgets can recover from SEO issues,” Marc Purtell recommends using Google Webmaster Tools, Screaming Frog, and the BrowSEO Spider Simulator to investigate and help correct ranking loss issues.
3 Must-Have SEO Tools: 17 SEO Experts Weigh In by Powered by Search
Troy Boileau reports on the results of asking several well-known SEO experts about their favorite tools: among the group, Aaron Wall (who’s produced some pretty awesome tools himself) likes different tools for different purposes, for example, “surface level metrics from Majestic SEO, Ahrefs & Open Site Explorer”; Brian Massey cites Google Analytics and AdWords, plus Visual Website Opimizer; and Heidi Cohen notes the value of WordPress and Flickr.
SEO On A Budget: 10 Free Tools by MediaPost
***** 5 STARS
Marc Purtell (again) lists 10 helpful free or low-cost tools to help with site analysis and optimization efforts, including Rank Checker, several Google tools, and Screaming Frog: “Screaming Frog is a free spider that…can help identify server errors, redirects, URI issues, duplicate meta data and much more.”
Last month’s Zenith Social Media Marketing Conference opened with a blast of presentational energy from Neal Rodriguez. While there’s no video of his keynote available, his YouTube channel will give you some sense of how Neal can wake up an early-morning crowd in a packed ballroom.
The conference, hosted by Marty Weintraub‘s agency, aimClear, was an impressive affair. Though Duluth is smallish metro area of roughly 100,000 population, the event attracted twice as many attendees as some similar events in larger cities, with speakers from around the country.
Among the first group of morning breakout sessions was “Using Social Media Analytics To Define ROI KPIs.” Grant Tilus and Katy Katz of Collegis discussed the virtual demise of organic reach on Facebook, and what to do about it.
They also advised that marketers set SMART goals, and presented a selection of best practices for advertising on popular social networks:
Among other key takeaways from Grant and Katy:
- • Use the scientific method. Start with research: is your goal achievable? What’s the best way to accomplish it? Then form the hypothesis – the idea you can test, the goal, the KPI, what you are trying to achieve. For example, “This Facebook contest will drive 100 new leads in 90 days.”
- • To crack the organic code, tap into human psychology; people like content tnat: makes us feel good, gives us answers, tells a story, or surprises us. Pick the right time of the day and week to post (e.g. Facebook work best over lunch).
- • Track your campaign like a case study. Report positive and negative outcomes of the campaign. Learn what works and document it so it can be replicated. Separate the results from different platforms, but use consistent lamguage.
- • Only 22% of businesses track their social results well.
Next up, Regis Hadiaris of Quicken Loans, Will Scott of Search Influence, and Joe Warner of aimClear presented “SEO, Social Media & What Every Marketer (SRSLY) Must Do.” The three played off each other adeptly, alternately focusing on the social, technical, and content-driven aspects of search.
Key lessons about SEO in 2014:
- • The days of tips & tricks in SEO are over. Google tests and updates daily. Follow Google Webmaster guidelines well – this is now the only option.
- • Make a list of the questions that your customers and prospects ask most frequently (talk to sales and customer service reps if necessary to generate this), then provide content in various formats (blog posts, white papers, video, presentations, infographics) that answers those questions.
- • Reputation management (the knowledge graph) is vital for SEO – Google wants to know who you are and how legitimate you are. This means making the effort to get dodgy links taken down or disavowed. Essentially, Google will judge your website by the company it keeps, so try to attach your content to high-authority sites like Forbes and industry-specific trade journals (a key channel in the web presence optimization (WPO) model).
- • The “coolest newest thing” you can do is to implement schema tags, e.g. tagging your contact page for local SEO. Use a WordPress plugin to simplify the process of highlighting news, product, and other specific types of content.
- • Three key technical elements in using Google+ for seo: 1) Link your website to your business G+ profile (and back); 2) Use Google authorship (link your blog to the author’s G+ page; and 3) add a G+ sharing button to all pages on your site.
- • Implementing Google authorship can increase click-through rates (CTRs) dramatically, even without any ranking change, by adding photo to a business result. G+ interaction gets more rich data into search results, which increases clicks. 20% of searchers, on average, looked at the second page of results on searches back in 2006. Now it’s 2% (because search engines have gotten better).
- • “If you don’t have open graph tags on your site, need to do that now.” For WordPress blogs or sites, use a plugin like WP Open Graph or Facebook Open Graph Meta Tags for WordPress to simplify the process.
- • Google’s objectives is to classify EVERYTHING. Sponsorships create brand mentions that make you a real brand. Industry/community activities (associations, analysts, events, community involvement), which are good things to do anyway, also build your brand in search (and are another key channel in the WPO framework).
- • To boost the value of your Google authorship, publish more in more places, and tag it back to your Google+ profile.
Finally, the brilliant Lisa Buyer and Lisa Grimm concisely and helpfully summarized everything new with Twitter in the past year or so, combined with timeless best practices, in “Breaking Bad with Twitter! Game Changing Tactics & Prodigal ROI.”
It would be impossible to top the summary of this presentation that Lisa Buyer published on her Social PR Chat blog, so check that out. A few quick takeaways:
- • “Pin” a high-value tweet to the top or your profile, by going to your profile and click “pin to your profile page” from the bottom of your selected tweet. Best practice: use an image with this.
- • The ideal tweet structure: headline, link, no more than three hashtags. End with a hashtag, but don’t start with one. Put the link near the middle of the tweet. Keep the total length under 120 characters.
- • Perform random acts of kindness for followers.
The post-conference free martinis were a nice touch too.