Webbiquity: 1) The unified management of SEO, search marketing, social media, brand management, content marketing and social PR supported by web presence optimization (WPO) metrics. 2) Being omnipresent on the web when buyers are looking for what you sell. 3) Measurement and management of owned, earned and paid media. Webbiquity – be everywhere online.
Will Google+ be a “Facebook killer” or just Google’s next failed social network? It’s certainly gaining traction, with over 500 million users now on board, already half of Facebook’s total. Then again, the average Facebook user spends nearly seven hours per month on the site—compared to just three minutes for the average Google+user.
Many of this year’s best posts about Google’s newest social platform were written early in the year. Since then, though the user base has continued to grow, enthusiasm seems to have waned. While Marty Weintraub offers a more provocative metaphor below, it almost seems like Google+ is becoming the colonoscopy of social networks: everyone agrees it’s vitally important, but few people really want to talk about it or spend any more time on it than absolutely necessary.
“Ghost town” or not, many experts agree that Google+ is here to stay, and it’s valuable for b2b marketing, SEO, personal branding, and reputation management. So what makes Google+ special? What are the best practices for business use of the platform? How can an individual or organization most efficiently grow a following there? And will Google+ end Facebook’s domination of social networking—or will it “break the Internet”?
Find those answers and more here in two dozen of the best Google+ guides, tips, rants and raves of the past year.
Susan Gunelius outlines five social networking features unique to Google+, including circles (which enable you to “separate your customers from your colleagues and online influencers from your business partners”) and hangouts (which can be “used for things like small-group webinars, question and answer sessions, and more”).
Though he calls Google+ a “half-baked invention,” Daniel Flamberg nevertheless advises that “savvy marketers should use Google+ these five ways,” including experimenting with hangouts, expanding social assets and audiences, and optimizing branded search: “Link owned digital assets to Google+. Use the +1 and encourage your followers to do the same. Plant +1 badges on all your assets to take advantage of the Direct Connect tool that automatically brings customers and prospects searching in your category to your page.”
For marketers who are either still on the fence about Google+ or just haven’t done much with it, Marc Pitman provides an excellent guide to the basics like filling up your links “While you’re editing your ‘about’ page, be sure to pay attention to the ‘other profiles’ section…(consider adding) links to other social media networks, links to your business sites (and) links to special pages on your website.”
Once you’ve finished with Marc Pitman’s post above, Mark Traphagen presents a five-step process for taking your business presence on Google+ to the next level, starting with 1 four-item list on optimizing your page for SEO followed by upgraded the visual appearance of your page and filling your stream with quality content.
Lauren Friedman explains why she thinks Google+ is not a social network but brands should be there anyway–for example, for SEO purposes: “The best way brands can take advantage of Google+ is to amp-up their SEO. Each time a user clicks the +1 button, it helps with that brand’s SEO and the content getting served to users above other content. Search results are personalized based on the +1s of those in your circles, and as a marketer, that changes the game. Search results are still based on Google’s proprietary algorithms, but sites with more +1s will appear to be more relevant and thus ranked higher.”
Lisa Peyton highlights three examples of successful Google+ brand pages such as the NASA page, where “The active space and science community on Google+ may support speculation that platform users are mostly tech-savvy early adopters. This finding contradicts the fact that the TOP Google+ profile belongs to pop star Britney spears. However, her page garners less engagement based upon the number of followers than the top brands outlined in this article.”
Contradicting popular wisdom, Eric Wittlake argues that “Google+ Brand Pages are not the ticket to SEO success. In fact, if you focus your Google+ efforts on your new brand page, you will miss the most important search benefits of Google+.” He then outline three strategies he says are designed to improve search rank and traffic.
Krista LaRiviere of web presence optimization software vendor gShift Labs offers six reasons for brands to embrace Google+, among them fresh content (“Google+ is just one more place to publish your press releases, blogs, testimonials, case studies and news. The difference with Google+ is that your content, if found, will be listed at the top of Google personal results mixed in with traditional search results”) and the fact that Google+ produces social signals which factor into Google’s ranking algorithm.
Frequent best-of honoree Marty Weintraub compares Google+ to a dominatrix (it makes sense the way he writes it), offering short-term pleasure (search rank improvement) at the expense of long-term frustration. Still, he thinks it’s worth the effort to chase the temporary bump and so shares an excellent list of nearly three dozen how-to articles from writers like Lisa Barone, Matt McGee and Stephanie Cain.
Contending that “PageRank, Google’s ranking scoring system, is profoundly impacted by these (Google +1) votes,” Danny DeMichele provides a simple four-step process for using Google+ as part of a broader reputation (personal or brand) strategy.
Susan Gunelius (again) presents helpful definitions of basic (e.g., “Chat: Using the Chat feature, you can notify people in your Google+ Circles that you’re online and available for an online chat from within Google+”) and advanced Google+ terms (such as “Data Liberation: Use this feature to download and backup the content in your Google+ Account, which is available through the Google+ Settings option [the gear icon in the upper-right corner of your screen when you’re logged into your Google+ account”]).
Keith Kaplan explains that although “The +1 has an indirect effect on your site’s search rank. This does not mean the more +1’s a link has, the higher rank it achieves in traditional search results,” it can indirectly help with SEO by making a piece of content more likely to be clicked on and shared on other social networks—which does actually affect rank.
Eric Siu shares advice from Fraser Cain, publisher of the Universe Today space and astronomy news website, on how to build, maintain and engage a large following on Google+. Eric contends that Fraser’s success, based on unique content and active network, belies the notion promoted by some (such as Austin Carr, below) that Google+ is a “ghost town.”
This tip from guest blogger Mark Traphagen (again) is almost too good to share. “What if you could create opt-in subscription lists on Google+? You can! Here’s the wonderful secret: you can create a Google+ page about virtually anything, including a topic. It doesn’t necessarily have to be connected with a brand name.” He then details a “simple strategy for using Pages to create opt-in subscription lists about specific topics.”
Again arguing against the “Google+ is a ghost town” thesis, Donnie Bryant here provides a handful of helpful tips for getting more performance out of a Google+ business page, from creating a short URL and maximizing the use of photos and video to encouraging sharing.
Zach Bulygo offers a highly detailed and richly illustrated guide to marketing on Google+, from the basics of business page setup and getting a verified name to optimizing your tagline, use of photos. Google+ author tag and the +1 sharing button.
Neal Schaffer quotes Mark Traphagen (one last time), who calls Google+ a “powerhouse” because of its “tight integration into Google search. Google+ posts are easily indexed by Google search, and unlike tweets or Facebook posts, are treated much like regular web pages. That means a well-constructed G+ post (with a main keyword in the first sentence/title and a good amount of engagement) can rank well in Google search and, unlike other social media status posts, actually stay ranked for a long time,” and explains why Google authorship is important and how to set it up.
Jon Mitchell is not a fan of Google’s latest social network and isn’t afraid to say so. He writes, “Google tools used to enhance the Internet. But as Google ships ‘the Google part’ of its new Google+ identity, it’s breaking the Web it once helped build,” and then offers half a dozen specific reasons why.
Danny Sullivan details the use and results from the “Don’t be Evil” browser bookmarklet, stating that “The companies behind the tool feel Google’s hasn’t focused on what’s best for its users with Search Plus Your World. They have a good point. But the tool makes this point better than all the debates that have happened so far around Search Plus Your Word, because it shows what Google could have done to better serve searchers, if it had wanted to.” He also explains how some features of Google+ are part of the problem.
Though he believes “Google+ is emerging as a great way for brands to connect directly with consumers,” Gavin O’Malley also notes that a disproportionate share of interaction is driven by a few aggressive, early adopting brands on the platform, and points out “Google+ still has less than 1/100th the number of total consumers interacting with the top 100 brands that Facebook has achieved.”
Austin Carr reports on the findings of a study which paints “very poor picture of the search giant’s social network–a picture of waning interest, weak user engagement, and minimal social activity.” Among te research findings from RJ Metrics, “Roughly 30% of users who make a public post never make a second one” and “Even after making five public posts, there is a 15% chance that a user will not post publicly again.” The author concludes that Google+ “might indeed just be a ‘virtual ghost town,’ as some have argued.”
While acknowledging that Google+ has its shortcomings and that many marketers remain (not entirely unreasonably) skeptical about the platform, Rebekah Radice nevertheless offers half a dozen reasons to embrace Google’s social network, such as the circles and hangouts features and the B2B networking value.
Tom Cheredar explains how Google+ Communities work and how this capability compares with Facebook groups: “There are a few notable (notable differences between Google+ Communities and Facebook Groups), including the ability to start a Google Hangout video chat with the community and sharing things specifically with G+ communities from any +1 button. That’s pretty cool, and something that might actually attract people to use it over Facebook.”
Writing that “While Google announced Google+ reached 500 million users, the bigger announcement by far was the roll out of Google+ Communities,” Steve Hart explains what Communities are, how they work, what they can be used for, and why they are “a BFD.”
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a key component in designing and developing an effective website, as well as the core of web presence optimization (WPO). And with continual algorithm changes by the search engines and the emerging importance of social signals and content, SEO ranking signals, responsibilities and best practices continue to evolve.
How to keep up? Here’s a good place to start: 40 of the best SEO guides to strategy, tactics, considerations, common mistakes to avoid and more from some of the best SEO bloggers and writers around.
Stoney deGeyter details five guidelines for establishing credibility for a site with search engines, such as making it “easy to verify the accuracy of the information on your site” (for example,through citations and references) and making it easy to contact you (i.e., by providing a phone number, physical address and email address).
Brandt Dainow lists 173 positive and negative ranking factors compiled from members of the Search Engine Land group on LinkedIn and believed to influence Google rankings. This is one outstanding checklist.
Noting that “Google has confirmed that CPC costs are trending above inflation year over year. This combination of factors makes SEO risk mitigation, diversification, and an investment in ensuring affordable long-term traffic,” John Lynch presents four common challenges to properly funding SEO efforts and how to successfully address each.
In an excellent complement to the post above, this piece demonstrates, through charts and narrative, how conversion rate opimization (CRO) is arguably more important than SEO–but ideally, both practices will be incorporated in a coordinated fashion to drive business results.
Rob Chant contends that “focusing on position, especially for a small group of keywords—and especially to the detriment of other factors—is a terrible idea. It’s usually isn’t best investment in a campaign or a good indicator of the overall health of a campaign,” then explains why this strategy is difficult, and what to do instead.
Arguing against “the school of thought which postulates that ranking reports or ranking data is either essentially dead, useless, or pointless” (perhaps Rob’s post above?), Eric Covino makes a compelling case for the continuing value of ranking reports, along with interesting stats on the typical percentage of clicks for each search position.
Many of these tips are commonly known, but some will be helpful reminders for experts and new information for others, such as “Primary pages should have 750 words or more (preferably with unique content free of excessive stop words)” and “If you cannot create enough unique content for a page to (a) rank on its own or (b) act as a stable supporting page, then consider using the robots meta tag to add a noindex, follow command (don’t index the page, but follow the links).”
Rand Fishkin how the role of an SEO consultant/expert has evolved over time from primarily tactics duties (e.g. basic keyword research, HTML sitemaps, on-page keyword targeting) to significantly more strategic priorities (reputation tracking, social media promotion, content strategy).
Adam T. Sutton reports on research showing that content creation is viewed as most effective tactic for increasing search traffic–but is also viewed as the second-most difficult (behind link building). Then,noting that “Even though creating content is the most effective SEO tactic, it comes in sixth in terms of popularity with 60% of marketers using it. This disconnection could be due to the difficulty of creating content,” he presents some quick case study-based guidance on how to plan and execute a productive content development strategy.
Acknowledging that “Copywriters are resistant to having to use particular words to get their point across and, rightfully, don’t want their content cluttered with dumb sounding ‘keyword’ phrases,” Stoney deGeyter outlines the “correct” way to optimize content for SEO using core terms, supporting phrases, related words, page headings, internal hyperlinks and meta tags.
Brian Patterson supplies a case study and example of an aggressive plan to assist a client whose name was appearing alongside “scam” in Google Suggest. The techniques outlined are helpful for promoting any type of content, but crucial in a crisis reputation management situation.
Michael Gray speculates on how Google may incorporate social media signals into search results, and provides guidance on how to capitalize on these signals for optimization such as “Strive to build up as much trust, authority, and reach as possible with your accounts.”
Noting that “both Google and Bing continue to use social signals to help rank regular search results (and) studies show friends are more likely to follow friends in search results,” Lisa Buyer supplies a half-dozen tips and techniques for increasing both your social influence and search rankings.
Observing that “Search is increasingly social with the incorporation content from social sources (video, blogs, images) into standard search results..(and) all major search engines take data feeds from Twitter and Facebook,” Lee Odden provides two tactical approaches (nicely illustrated with diagrams) for incorporating social media efforts into SEO processes.
John Doherty demonstrates in rich detail how Google’s release of +1 has impacted social signals and Facebook content sharing, and concludes by recommending that webmasters–particularly in technology (my realm), opinion and celebrity gossip–should implement a +1 button on their sites.
Harrison Jones explores why online video has become so popular, then steps through how to optimize a YouTube channel and individual videos, and how to promote videos through social networks, social bookmarking sites and blogs.
Rand Fishkin illustrates how key SEO ranking signals for the search engines have evolved and become more complex over time, then offers details about and strategies for optimizing on “the next generation of ranking signals (that) will rely on three relatively new groups of metrics.”
Danny Sullivan presents a must-have infographic for SEO pros that graphically shows the key on-page and off-page SEO ranking factors and techniques, along with black-hat tactics to avoid. This is a great illustration to print and keep handy.
Rand Fishkin (again) uses a series of graphics to illustrate the key SEO ranking factors based on research, as well as another graphic on the future of search which attempts to predict which ranking factors are likely to become more or less important in the coming year.
Tad Chef supplies his updated list of “new or current ranking factors that get underestimated by webmasters and neglected,” including site speed, outbound links, branding, search CTR (write compelling meta description tags!), page age and link decay (broken outbound links).
Adam Audette reviews recent Google algorithm updates and how each one affected search, then provides five tips for success in the post-Panda world, including link building via social media efforts and building internal links, along with some more technical recommendations.
Who better to ask than Google about to improve rankings after the Panda debacle? Amit Singhal lists 23 questions webmasters can ask themselves to determine if they have high quality content (as Google defines it). such as “Was the article edited well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?,” “For a health related query, would you trust information from this site?” and “Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?”
Observing that “it’s best to learn from the mistakes of other marketers than to learn these lessons on our own, let’s take a look at what we can glean from past black-hat scandals,” Ramsay Crooks details the best-to-avoid-less-than-white-hat techniques that have gotten some big-name websites into hot water with Google, including link farming (J.C. Penney), low-quality content (WiseGeek.com) and cloaking (BMW).
Aaron Wheeler and Rand Fishkin review some of the history behind Google’s Panda update, how Google’s algorithm attempts to evaluate the “quality” of a site, and which ranking factors are most important in the post-Panda world. Along the way, Rand notes that “It is almost like the job of SEO has been upgraded from SEO to web strategist. Virtually everything you do on the Internet with your website can impact SEO today.”
Ramsay Crooks explores seven common SEO errors and their solutions, among them excessive use of dynamic content, failing to consider SEO during the new website design phase, and not leveraging internal site search data for keyword research.
Paul Martin outlines 11 mistakes commonly made in URL structure (who knew there were that many?) including lack of keywords, improper directory structure, use of session IDs and “the trailing slash conundrum,” and provides fixes for each (several of which involve 301 redirects).
The brilliant Rebecca Lieb recounts an experience reviewing a website that was “attractive and functional, but also a textbook example of the 10 most common errors seen among non-SEO friendly website builds.” Among these ten mistakes: no keyword research, duplicate (and un-optimized) meta page title tags, and vague copy.
Erez Barak reports results from an Optify study which contradicted several commonly held beliefs, such as “it’s always best to be on page 1 of the search results.” Optify found that, actually, “The CTR of result 11 (top of page two) is actually greater than result 10 (bottom of page one).” Terms with a lower cost per click in paid search generally got higher CTRs than keywords with a high CPC value. And more.
Zeke Camusio outlines a dozen key factors in competitive SEO analysis (e.g., number of incoming links, quality of inbound links, number of indexed pages) and tactics for success in a succinct “Why It Matters,” “How to Check” and “What to Do About This” format.
Explaining that “competitive research can show you which of your potential strategies is most likely to provide your site unique value, value that your competitors will probably have a harder time getting or which they seem to have neglected so far,” Benjamin Estes details a process for competitive SEO assessment and strategy development. The post gets a bit technical, delving into statistical analysis and Excel pivot tables, but may be helpful for those working on enterprise SEO projects.
Pointing out that “search – the process, the intent, the results – just isn’t that different on mobile devices vs. laptops and desktops,” Rand Fishkin (yet again) explains what SEO pros need to do—and more importantly, don’t need to do—in order to optimize sites for search on mobile devices.
Noting that “Local search is essential to small businesses. In 2010, Google revealed that the proportion of Google result pages that show a map is one in 13,” Jon Rognerud provides a five-step process for local search optimization, along with helpful lists of local directories and niche marketplaces as well as links to local SEO resources.
Janet Driscoll Miller details her top seven reasons why webmasters (and SEO practitioners) should use Google Webmaster Tools, including identifying top search queries, impacting sitelinks, and analyzing inbound links.
Ray “Catfish” Comstock explains why duplicate content is a problem in search, then details the circumstances in which the canonical tag is a better option than a 301 redirect for correcting duplicate content issues.
Janet Driscoll Miller outlines what she terms “an easy way to quickly format your 301 redirect mapping for non-dynamic pages to match .htaccess formatting.” As oxymoronic as that sentence is, this process is just about as simple and straightforward as this complex task can be.
One final post from Janet Driscoll Miller. In this one, she writes that “Google, Bing and Yahoo have teamed up to develop a standardized microdata format that the three engines will use to better understand the content contained on Web pages” and explains what this means for promoting specific types of content (e.g., reviews, products, events, TV listings) and how to use rich snippets in accordance with Google’s guidelines.
Darren Rowse provides a detailed analysis of his blog visits from various sources—which, given the obscene volume of traffic his blog draws, is probably fairly representative of blogs in general. Among his findings: organic search is the source of both the highest volume and best quality of traffic. Social traffic (e.g. StumbleUpon and Digg) is “spiky” and doesn’t convert well, but supports SEO through the links generated. There’s lots more red meat for web analytics data junkies as well.
The insightful Carrie Hill writes that “In doing a wide variety research into what is and isn’t working for a small business Web site, I find the most frequent issues fall within the following six categories.” These include duplicate content, lack of keyword research, ignoring link building, and…read her post!
Aaron Wall makes the case for SEO with a brief case study of two similar websites. Though one may quibble with details here (on-page optimization accounts for only 5% of search position for competitive keywords?!) but his overall argument is pretty incontestable.
In this brilliant piece, Max Capener provides a dozen tips for optimizing meta description tags to help get the click even when your site doesn’t get a top 3 spot in the search rankings. These tactics range from adding a phone number or special characters to your description to catch the searcher’s eye to keeping title tags as short as possible and using friendly URLs. As Max notes, “No significant weight is given to the meta description for SEO purposes. It is therefore a great opportunity to use this space to help sell the click.”
While noting that “Google’s ranking algorithm takes into account approximately 200+ attributes when determining the position of websites in search engine results,” Lorna Li details the top 10 factors that account for most of the ranking results. This helpful post shows the relative importance of keywords, links, site age and other factors.
In this outstanding post, frequent best-of contributor Matt McGee provides a visual model of SEO in pyramid form, with factors such as Planning and Patience at the base, rising to Trust at the peak. The post links to a full-size printable version of the model, handy for tacking up on your wall for inspiration and guidance when scoping out a new SEO project.
In one of the best lists of SEO resources ever—and I do not say that lightly—Danny Dover provides links to and short summaries of “almost 100 tools and learning resource that help to master Internet Marketing,” from tools for link building and keyword research to a wide range of learning resources and tools for social media marketing. Bookmark this page and keep it near the top of your list. Another great post from Danny is The Beginner’s Checklist for Learning SEO, a step-by-step guide to creating a well-optimized website.
Google made quite a splash when it published this guide last November. They not only provided practical, helpful information for SEO’s trying to optimize for dominant search engine but legitimized the entire practice as well. In this post, Brandon Falls briefly explains the purpose and content of the guide.
Shannon Hutcheson does an excellent job of dissecting why redirects are important and the relative value of different types of redirects. A bit more instructional information about server-side redirects and using .htaccess for redirects—or links to such info—would have been a nice touch, but this is an helpful post nonetheless.
Frequent “best of” contributor Ann Smarty provides tools and techniques for analyzing your competitors’ keywords, backlinks and social media presence, noting that these tasks are critical because “promoting a site without proper competition research means to promote it blind (and) if you focus on finding what your competitor is doing profoundly wrong, you have good chances to get ahead of him.”
Bare Lying Google Myths by HomeBiz Resource
Louis Liem summarizes the Q&A from a Google webmaster event by dispelling a number of common myths about SEO and how Google ranks websites. Among the myths flayed here: duplicate content isn’t that big of a deal, although webmasters should “make it easy for us (Google) to find the preferred version;” XML sitemaps harm your rankings (quite the opposite!); and PageRank is everything (no, Google uses this, but it’s only one of more than 200 factors that determine where your pages will show up in searches for specific search terms).
Peter Da Vanzo offers an outstanding primer on preparing SEO proposals, from really understanding the client’s world and using tools like Google Traffic Estimator to show the value of search traffic to determining if there’s a suitable fit between you and the client.
An excellent follow-up to Peter’s post above is this one from Eric Lander, in which he outlines how to draft an ideal SEO proposal that both educates and “sells” the client. Eric contents that a proposal is not to be confused with an estimate; in his words, “A proposal is a document that outlines the goals of a project, states the objective, target audience, assignment of responsibilities, and so on. In the ideal situation, offer some ‘sell’ information as well – or credentials that justify your staff and organizations legitimacy.” An estimate is a preview of the expected costs of the project—which can be affected by how well your initial proposal is crafted.
Julie Batten translates “SEO speak,” providing definitions for more than a dozen commonly used terms / jargon in search marketing. Experienced SEOs know what these terms mean of course, but it’s helpful to keep in mind when talking to clients or prospects, particularly when drafting a proposal (see above), that most other people don’t. In many communications, it’s best to avoid jargon or at least define it.
Duncan Morris recommends explaining SEO to prospective clients using a simple triangular diagram to show the three core areas of SEO: content (on-page factors), technical issues and trust (links and ratings). It’s a highly simplified model for SEO, but as Duncan astutely notes, “often SEO is about doing the simple things right, and being able to communicate with your potential clients.”
SEO projects often begin with keyword research, but this post recommends stepping back and beginning with solid architecture instead: assuring that CSS and Java are handled properly, the site has a solid internal link structure, and both HTML and XML sites maps are utilized.
The spammy title aside, this is a solid piece on SEO basics. Titus Hoskins has compiled a useful list of 10 factors to include in SEO projects, from the basic content /keywords / links to taking advantage of Google Webmaster Tools, article marketing and building traffic hubs within your site structure.
Noting that “more than 70 percent of internet users start off with a search engine before they buy a product or service,” Claudia Bruemmer covers an impressive amount of ground in this article. She provides an excellent primer on SEO staring with objectives, keyword research and onsite optimization techniques and continuing on through SEO tools, local search, image optimization, video, online PR and blogs.
The brilliant and creative Ian Lurie offers ten (well, eight really) title tag formulas that provide both SEO and branding benefits along with suggestions for best practices to satisfy both search engine bots and your human site visitors.
Beating down the SEO is dead argument that pops up periodically, David Harry provides a “mental 301 redirect” by noting the continual stream of new techniques and technologies SEOs need to master (such as mobile search and universal search), core SEO topics that are often overlooked (e.g., TrustRank—Google and Yahoo versions), and underappreciated concepts related to modern search (for example, Yahoo Personalized PageRank and HarmonicRank) capable of inducing a deer-in-the-headlights stare from many if not most SEO practitioners.
Suggesting that “If the individual pages are wired together (with SEO in mind) at the early stages of design, this makes for easier implementation of other key components for on and off-page optimization,” this brief but instructive post provides a four-step plan to lay the groundwork for effective on-site SEO before the design stage begins.
DazzlinDonna Fontenot nicely explains the basic goals of SEO: to help search engines find, index, understand, evaluate and rank the pages on your website. Not just for newbies, this is also a helpful post for experienced SEO consulants to use in explaining the goals (and limitations) of SEO to prospective new clients.
The ubiquitous, oblivious Lee Odden explains the symbiotic relationship between PR and SEO: PR tools and techniques (such as online press release distribution, social media relations and blogger outreach) build valuable links that help with your SEO efforts, while producing well-optimized, relevant content for your industry increases the odds that harried journalists will find you and write about you.
Correcting an earlier post entitled “Content Has Never Been The King,” the author notes that “If your site doesn’t have quality content, a Google search engineer can crush it with a simple push of a button. On the other hand, if your site’s content is of stellar quality, a Google engineer who came across it would love it. This doesn’t mean they will give you a manual boost—Google doesn’t work that way. It does mean that you are protected because of the quality of your site. Google isn’t going to smack the legitimate, solid sites.” This post also inspired an amazing 172 comments; suffice it to say, opinions on this topic aren’t exactly universally in sync.
Even SEO tactics that are common knowledge can cause problems if poorly applied. With that in mind, this post warns against potential SEO errors like crafting less-than-optimal page titles, writing too much for search engines (and not enough for human readers), and building links from low-value sites or bad neighborhoods.
The exceedingly modest Darren Slatten demonstrates in very entertaining fashion that keyword stuffing doesn’t always harm your search position—even if you want it to. Okay, so it’s not the most useful SEO post of last year, but c’mon, how often do you read a post about search that’s actually kinda funny?
Frank Levert offers some crucial SEO tips to anyone tasked with building a site on open-source CMS tool Joomla, including instructions for changing the ugly (and SEO-unfriendly) default URLs Joomla creates, fixing title tags, and avoiding duplicate meta tag issues.
If you’ve ever experienced a sudden, gut-wrenching drop in your site’s search engine position, Karen Scharf presents five possible reasons. SEO efforts themselves (making too many content changes or adding too many new links in a short time period) can even sometimes trigger a drop, though this is generally a temporary situation.
This dispatch from last August’s Search Engine Strategies event details a presentation from Shawn Moore of Think Profits on tactics for getting a site to the first page of Google. Among Shawn’s tips: write a blog, make sure your database is crawlable by search engine spiders, and create optimized press releases.
Writing that the ideal engine would be “Your best friend with instant access to all the world’s facts and a photographic memory of everything you’ve seen and know,” Marissa Mayer, VP Search Products & User Experience at Google reveals several attributes of the future direction of search at Google, which will incorporate new modes (e.g. voice, natural language, images, audio), a wider variety of media, personalization, and machine language translation.
Noting that “Google News can bring tons of traffic and boost your site performance, ” the brilliant Ann Smarty explains the technical requirements for inclusion as well as recommendations (i..e use properly labeled images and video, mobile-friendly design, update frequency of at least three times per day) for high ranking.
SEO expert Brent D. Payne summarizes nuggets of SEO knowledge gleaned from an interview Eric Enge did with Matt Cutts. Among his conclusions: social media marketing is a valid link-building activity, widgetbait is helpful for SEO, anchor text should be natural (i.e., not too many links pointing to your site with the same exact text), and, wait, there’s more!
Glen Allsopp offers his list of SEO health check items for websites, including use of proper use of the non-WWW to WWW redirect, unique page titles, sitemaps, anchor text, header tags and more. My only quarrel would be with the inclusion of insidious no-follow tags, which should be banned not encouraged.
First off, you gotta love that title. Web design guru Stoney deGeyter explains four coding issues that can “screw up your on-page optimization processes,” such as a very high code-to-content ratio, and how to fix them.
Writer Michael Estrin interviews a group of SEO experts to dispel some “common misperceptions about SEO” such as that SEO is about secret tactics, submitting your site to thousands of directories is helpful, SEO is a one-time event, and my favorite, “SEO is free.” Among the experts are Danny Sullivan, Aaron Wall and Shimon Sandler.
SEO educator Jennifer Laycock offers small business owners and SEO newbies “five steps that…can go a long way toward helping you build a good understanding of what organic optimization is all about,” including search-friendly design, proper keyword research and on-page optimization.
Taken together, this post and the resulting comments provide an interesting discourse on why microsites are bad for SEO—but why you may want to use them anyway (to support multiple brands, for time-sensitive campaigns, etc.).
In part one of this series, SEO pro Scott Van Achte provides a comprehensive guide to the factors that need to be considered on-page website optimization, including title and meta tags, synonyms, headings and navigation. Even for experienced SEO practitioners, this post serves as a good reminder of what not to forget.
In another post from Search Engine Guide, Scott Allen provides an in-depth guide to maximizing the value of internal links, which, as he points out, provide two key benefits when done right: improving search engine rank and usability.
Since Google is the most important search engine for SEOs, it’s helpful to understand how its engineers view search. Udi Manber, VP of Search Quality, provides a glimpse behind the curtain. He doesn’t share any deep, dark secrets in this post, but does reveal some interesting information, such as the reduced importance of Pagerank and the sheer volume of changes Google makes to its algorithm each year (more than 450 in 2007; no wonder search positions for individual sites are so volatile).
U.K.-based SEO consultant Brian Turner makes a compelling case for buying SEO services based on your specific needs—but most definitely not on price. As Brian bluntly points out, “”Buying SEO services by price point alone is definitely in invitation for poor quality services, and even worse, can invite a penalty in Google. India has probably done more than any other country to position itself as the ‘SEO spam’ capital, with a huge number of companies fighting to offer the cheapest service that delivers the smallest results.”
Craig Macdonald, VP of Marketing and Product Management at marketing analytics provider Covario, outlines a “a strategic, scalable system for success” at SEO. His advice, which includes setting up a search “center of excellence” and performing sophisticated analysis, is targeted primarily at very large enterprises, though other pieces of information—such as noting that page file names are much more important to Google than Yahoo results—are more universally helpful.
In another noteworthy article fro iMedia, Andrew Rodrigues of Geary Interactive explores how the emergence of social bookmarking, blended search, link competition and other developments have forced a more strategic approach to SEO.
When it comes to SEO, size does matter. William Flaiz, VP of SEO at Razorfish, offers a guide to SEO for very large websites, from site architecture and internal linking strategies to social media and reputation management.
This posts suggests that Google’s “previous query” feature may be one explanation for volatile search rankings, though as one commenter points out, later changes to the algorithm may have blunted this effect somewhat.
Interactive marketing guru and best-selling authorBryan Eisenberg maps SEO priorities against Abraham Maslow’s famous hierarchy of needs. As with Maslow’s pyramid, Eisenberg’s maps out progressive levels of website impact, from being merely functional to truly persuasive.
An outstanding post from DazzlinDonna listing her favorite resources and guides for help with everything from SEO and online reputation management to blogging and social media marketing. It’s almost like a syllabus for your own self-paced interactive marketing guru course.
Writer Brandon Cornett gets to the heart of SEO in this concise and practical article, detailing “five simple tasks you can perform on your website over the next few days to improve your search engine visibility and traffic levels” from validating your keywords to creating an XML site map.
Betsy Schiffman posts a brief interview with the head of Google’s quality team. Included is Matt’s response to the question of whether SEO really works: “It does to some degree. Think of it this way: When you put a resume forward, you want it to be as clean as possible. If the resume is sloppy, you’re not going to get interviewed for the job. SEO is sort of like tweaking your resume . . . It’s helpful if you just think about which words people would use to search for your content. If you’re writing something about Mount Everest, for example, people are probably going to look for ‘How high is Mount Everest?’ . . . If done responsibly, [SEO] can be a great thing.”
Patrick Altoft notes that by the time an SEO strategy becomes popular, it generally doesn’t work anymore. While no one (other than Matt Cutts) knows what will be important next year, Patrick takes some guesses.
It’s no secret that SEO and SEM are each more effective when used together, but this post goes beyond the obvious to detail some specific strategies to use these tools together to dominate the home page of Google (or any other search engine) on a core set of specific terms.
A wealth of data about working in SEO, with an interesting high-level summary as well as links to detail data. Among the conclusions: the vast majority of SEOs are self-taught (ranging from close to 60% in SEM agencies to more than 80% of “self-employed, non-consultant” whatever that is); SEOs are underpaid (even in the U.S., close to half earn less than $60K per year and nearly 60% make less than $75K); and far too many use insidious no-follow tags.
Wendy Suto provides an excellent guide to improving your own SEO efforts by analyzing what competitors are doing in areas such as spider-friendly code, navigation, volume of content, meta tags, keyword density and external links. Understanding how the sites that rank higher than yours (or your client’s) for certain highly relevant key phrases can help you implement changes to leapfrog them.
A wonderful post on the challenges and rewards of working with small business owners on SEO. One key is to not overwhelm them with everything that needs doing at once; simply fixing title meta tags can often provide a significant bang for a small number of bucks. And it’s true that small business owners are frequently more appreciative and loyal than are big companies.
SEO Step Ten Of Ten: Keeping It Up by WebProNews
Jim Hedger writes about what to do once an SEO project is “done,” such as monitoring analytics and tweaking content, or as he puts it, “continuing to update the blog, link building and social media marketing.”
Dev Basu outlines five areas that form a foundation for SEO efforts, including proper internal linking, sitemaps and developing a blog. This was actually from December 2007, but I overlooked it last January. Oops.
In this witty and very useful SEO post, Derek Edmond pretty much skips the usual tips about title tags and internal links and instead provides some fresh, off-the-beaten-path ideas such as “Research 2 or 3 of your main competition’s websites for 1 or 2 things they have (on their site) that you don’t have (and want),” “Check your Google AdWords reports for three profitable keyword referrals that you had not been optimizing organically for” and “Find 2 industry related resources that offer opportunities for article submissions, record the contact information and set a goal of contacting them for information on how to send one of your articles.”
Search guru Lee Odden recommends getting creative rather than conservative when it comes to beefing up SEO efforts during a downturn. He recommends aggressive content promotion, using social media, and experimenting with universal search among other tactics.
SEO is fundamentally about driving website traffic. Generating clicks isn’t only a matter of top ranking, but also having a well-written description meta tag that appeals to searchers. Somewhat lower ranked sites can outdraw those in the top position with a description tag that is carefully crafted to appeal to both search engines and people.
Because search engine algorithms are constantly changing, a solid link-building strategy shouldn’t be “trendy” but rather balanced between different types of link sites including blogs, forums, directories, articles and reciprocal link partners.
A fairly short yet very thoughtful post that is more strategic than tactical. Stepping back and answering some basic questions about why someone would visit your site and what exactly you’d like them to do there provides a helpful starting point for SEO efforts.
While this article doesn’t quite live up to its headline, it’s nevertheless an educational quick read for anyone starting link building efforts as well as a helpful refresher for more experienced SEO practitioners.
Another excellent post with a somewhat misleading title, this piece from Jon Clark is packed with three dozen checklist items to make sure your SEO tactics are on track, divided into home page, site and external activities. Items range from basic (formatting of title tags, use of H2 tags, internal text links) to advanced (setting up a domain name redirect, “link funneling” using insidious nofollow tags). While going through this list will take considerably longer than 60 minutes, but it’s a worthwhile effort.
This post helps SEO pros understand, at a high level, the “biases” built into search engine algorithms in order to craft strategies and tactics to capitalize on them. These biases include factors like “spamminess,” authority, blog buzz and links.
A thoughtful piece from Scott Buresh on the value of adjectives for search; using modifiers in search phrases can simplify SEO efforts while delivering more highly qualified traffic. This works with descriptors (e.g. “B2B email marketing” vs. just “email marketing”), location (e.g. “search marketing services Minnesota”) and other attributes.