Posts Tagged ‘Rand Fishkin’
As noted in part one of the best SEO posts roundup for last year, with all the significant changes announced by Google in the past 12 months (at least six, detailed in a pair of posts below), “These are indeed “interesting times” for SEO professionals, with rapid and wide-ranging changes to the search landscape being announced at an accelerating pace.”
The general consensus is that the practice of SEO is becoming more strategic, less tactical; more content-driven, less technical. The winners should be organizations that focus on providing targeted, relevant, high-quality content, as well as their prospective customers; with the (little lamented) losers being the spammers, manipulators and black-hat SEO types.
What techniques still work in the new world of SEO? Which need to be discarded? What new tactics and ranking factors are most vital to understand? How should SEO professionals strategically align frameworks for maximizing online visibility and business results?
Find the answers to those questions and many others here in more than two dozen of the best SEO guides from the past year.
Expert SEO Guides and Tips
Noting that in any field, “once a myth has been established it hard to get rid off,” Joop Rijk debunks nine SEO-related myths including duplicate content penalties (“Duplicate content is not considered spam and sites do not get penalized for duplicate content. Google ignores duplicate content and has a way to determine which page they should rank”—though it doesn’t always get this right) and the 100 links-per-page limit (“Googlebot can crawl more than 100 links on a page and there is no specific [known] limit”).
SEO Strategies for People that Hate SEO by Search Engine Guide
Brian Dean offers a handful of simple yet effective rank-improving tips from people not naturally inclined to SEO work, from a clever tactic for getting mentioned in link roundups (one of the few remaining manual link-building strategies that still work) to how to get featured on resource pages.
SEO Makeover for 2014: A Practical Guide for Businesses by Portent
***** 5 STARS
David Portney presents an outstanding checklist of three dozen questions to ask and answer about the state of your site’s SEO, from content-related factors (Does each page have a page-relevant unique title tag? A page-relevant unique meta description? A clear and concise headline?) through links, navigation, and technical SEO considerations.
Top 19 SEO Experts Share Their Best Advice on SEO by Effective Inbound Marketing
Ayodeji Onibalusi curates a big list of helpful SEO tips and tricks from SEO experts including Kristi Hines (“don’t get tempted to buy into cheap SEO services. If someone’s offering 100 backlinks for $5, then they’re more than likely going to get you spammy links that you will pay dearly for in the long run”), Neil Patel (see the next entry), Ann Smarty (“If you love each article you are publishing online, you’ll see genuine interest to your content”), Tadeusz Szewczyk (a.k.a. Tad Chef), and Jayson DeMers (see the “Big Picture SEO Strategy” section below).
11 SEO Changes That Will Give You Big Results by QuickSprout
Neil Patel shares 11 effective but lesser know techniques for optimizing search results, such as capitalizing on the internal-link building power of 404 error pages; creating dynamic infographics; using what he calls the “skyscraper technique” (this blog is an example); and incorporating “most clicked-through words” (such as “how to,” “tips” and “best”) in headlines.
Rethink Link Building for Best B2B Marketing by MLT Creative Ideas@Work Blog
Guest author Jeremiah Smith notes that the old ways of link building are dead (at best, pointless), social sharing is critical, and conversion rate optimization (CRO) supports SEO efforts. He concludes the post with a five-step process for optimizing not just rankings, but also bottom-line business results.
In Search of SEO? Have Content, Be Social by BroadSuite
Dan Newman details several ways in which the practice of SEO has changed over the past 18-24 months, particularly in terms of the role of content (and more importantly, the importance of business blogging: “Even the most optimized B2B site if just a static products and services website will have a hard time growing and sustaining traffic”) and the role of social sharing (“7 of the top 8 factors driving SEO are Social Sharing related and not traditional SEO drivers whatsoever”).
Search Engine Click Through Rate Optimization (+Infographic) by Marketing from the Front
***** 5 STARS
Brent Carnduff reports on some eye-opening research findings in this post which reminds one of a Geico commercial: Did you know that the top four organic search results get 83% of all clicks? Of course, everyone knows that. Okay, but did you know that “As searcher intent becomes more detailed or specific (long tail term), the click distribution across the first page organic listings begins to even out”? That makes, as Brent explains, CTR optimization as important as SEO.
New SEO Best Practices with Schema Markup #SESCHI by TopRank Online Marketing Blog
Confused by what a “schema” is or why you’d bother with one? Brian Larson helpfully walks through the history of this (no longer new) tactic, how it works in action, what the classifications are, and how to get started with schema markup tools, all based on a presentation by Anne F. Kennedy at SES Chicago.
Technical SEO for Nontechnical People by Search Engine Watch
For those confuzzled by technical SEO terms and techniques, Erin Everhart patiently explains “the basics behind what you need to look out for with technical SEO,” including redirects and status codes, canonicals, duplicate uppercase and lowercase URLs (though search engines should really be able to figure this out), and URL parameters.
150 Blog Posts in 50 Days: Why Were Marketers Mad? by Search Engine Journal
McKay Allen details the results of a test to determine how a substantial ramp-up in content creation would affect search traffic, and the surprising response of (some) marketers. The bottom line is that while not all elements of “old school” SEO are dead, content development definitely needs to play a key role in go-forward search strategy.
Infographic: Companies with a blog get 55% more traffic by leaderswest
Jim Dougherty showcases a very helpful SEO infographic, which visually steps through techniques and best practices for on-page and keyword optimization, technical SEO factors, social signals, Google+ authorship, and generating links from inbound marketing.
Best Guides to Big-Picture SEO Strategy
6 Major Google Changes Reveal the Future of SEO by Search Engine Watch
Inviting readers to “take a few steps back and understand the big picture,” Eric Enge looks at half a dozen major changes from Google in 2013–from keyword (not provided) to in-depth articles, and ties them all together concluding “the six major Google changes listed above are all moves that” take tactical data out of the SEO picture and “encourage more strategic behavior.”
How recent Google changes affect your SEO by iMedia Connection
Similar to the post above, Nathan Joynt here reviews the major algorithmic and reporting changes made by Google over the past year, describes the impact of each on SEO efforts, and ties it all together in the end by stating, “one thing is clear: The value of an SEO strategy set on tactics involving direct manipulation of search results is becoming less effective…This is exactly what Google wants. They want inbound marketers and business owners to shift their primary focus away from Google and manipulative link and content schemes and concentrate this energy on each business’ target market and to create the best products, services, and content possible.”
5 Reasons You’ll Need to Increase Your SEO Budget in 2014 by Search Engine Journal
Jayson DeMers makes the case that SEO will require more dollars in resources in 2014, for among other reasons, that “cheap” tactics like keyword stuffing and low-quality backlink building no longer work (and may even backfire); the increasing importance of social media; and the need to produce a steady stream of fresh content.
Best Guides to Search Engine Ranking Factors
Cyrus Shepard unveils results from the the Moz semiannual (see also the wrapup of this from Rand Fishkin, below) survey of SEO professionals on ranking factors, and predicts which factors are likely to become more important (e.g., authorship metrics) and less important (e.g., exact keyword match domains0 over the next few years.
Weighting the Clusters of Ranking Factors in Google’s Algorithm by Moz
***** 5 STARS
Rand Fishkin explains some of the key takeaways from the Moz semiannual survey on ranking factors. The top three factors remain the quality and quantity of backlinks to a domain; quality/quantity of backlinks to specific pages; and page-level keyword and content features.
Infographic: Every ingredient that contributes to search engine ranking by leaderswest
***** 5 STARS
For those who prefer their ranking factors in a colorful, illustrated format, Jim Dougherty (again) shares a bookmark-worthy SEO infographic detailing 200 Google ranking factors, from domain factors like domain age and history through page-level factors, site-level factors, backlink factors, social signals and more.
Best Guides to SEO in the Keyword (Not Provided) World
Overcoming Google’s Keyword ‘Not Provided’ Data by Web Marketing Today
Kevin Webster outlines several strategies for dealing with keyword (not provided) in search analytics, such as benchmarking and optimizing search landing page traffic and performance: “The company should let go of the notion of ranking for a search term, and focus more on the idea of ranking for a search concept.”
Google ‘(Not Provided)’ Keywords: 10 Ways to Get Organic Search Data by Search Engine Watch
Jennifer Slegg reviews the motivations behind Google’s move to secure search, how the change affected the practice of SEO, and 10 methods for “replacing the (missing keyword) data now that Google isn’t providing it,” such as looking at non-Google search data, Google Webmaster Tools reports, and analyzing on-site searches.
Best Guides to SEO for Panda and Penguin
Life of an SEO Before, After and Beyond Penguin 2.1 an Infographic by WordPress SEO Cloud Hosting
Berrie Pelser presents a fantastically helpful graphical guide to SEO in the post-Penguin environment, which illustrates for example from spending time and money to obtain directory links (before Penguin) to spending time and money getting low-value links removed, and moving from article spinning to quality guest blogging.
How to Recover from Panda Dance by Kaiser the Sage
If your search rankings were mauled by Panda, Jason Acidre details seven techniques for recovering that lost traffic, including rich-snippet optimization (which “seems to be one of the best methods to use in responding to these recent algorithmic changes”), upgrading “evergreen” landing pages, and optimizing for local search.
Brian Rauschenbach offers half a dozen practical tips for SEO in the post-Panda world, among them: “Ensure that links to your site are natural. Panda likes links from quality sources but will come down hard on you (and may even exclude you from Google’s search results) if your site is inundated with overly targeted links, especially if they are sponsored…it’s clear that Google is looking to essentially reward companies and marketers who make a concerted effort to populate their sites with authoritative, useful, and shareable content.”
Best Guides to SEO for Hummingbird
5 Ways To Unlock The Benefits Of Semantic Search by Search Engine Land
Explaining that semantic search is intended to make search results “more personal, more engaging, more interactive and more predictive,” Barbara Starr offers guidance on how to unlock its benefits, from optimizing content based on user intent rather than keywords (based on Google patents in this area) to fully leveraging Google+ and implementing appropriate semantic markup.
Hummingbird Unleashed by Moz
Gianluca Fiorelli recommends taking using a philological (based on the original documents and observation of effects) method to adapt to Google’s algorithmic changes, and details the results of his “study of those documents and field observations” pertaining to Hummingbird, how Hummingbird works, how large the impact is, and most importantly–how to do “Hummingbird-friendly” SEO (e.g., follow technical SEO best practices, build the right kinds of links, and use analytics to optimize social media marketing efforts).
Hummingbird’s Impact On B2B Sites by Search Engine Land
Contending that “The new Hummingbird algorithm will revolutionize the way B2B companies market their sites in search,” Harrison Jones explains how Hummingbird works, how that is likely to affect search rankings and traffic for b2b websites, and how those sites can capitalize on the algorithm change to draw more–and more relevant–traffic from search engines.
Somewhat echoing the points made in the post above, Laurie Sullivan writes that “Search engine marketers need to put aside attempts to raise their brand’s Web site to the top of first-page query rankings through old-fashioned optimization techniques and focus on content,” and more specifically, that they should “Use objects, images, and videos, and with the correct semantic structure the content will get grabbed” by the search engines.
In late 2011, Google began redirecting users who were signed into their Google accounts to the encrypted (https) version of the search engine, beginning the keyword (not provided) era. At the time, Matt Cutts assured everyone that the change would only affect single-digit percentages of all organic search traffic reporting.
The reality was, of course, much different. Marketers, webmasters and SEO professionals quickly saw the share of (not provided) keywords rise to the 20%, 30%, even 40% ranges. Then, on September 23, 2013, Google dropped the hammer, encrypting all search traffic and thus hiding keyword referral data for all of its organic search traffic.
The initial response of digital marketing professionals was…panic. Even Rand Fishkin, while not quit declaring the death of search engine optimization, called keyword (not provided) the first existential threat to SEO.
Google’s move did not, of course, “kill” SEO, but it did force marketers to adopt a broader framework to optimize overall web presence. And it forced SEO and analytics professionals to get more creative in how they analyzed and assessed organic search keyword data. Here are half a dozen of the best guides to measuring organic search phrase results in a keyword (not provided) world.
12 Ways to Measure Content Effectiveness After Google’s “Not Provided” Decision by Content Marketing Institute
***** 5 STARS
While many SEO writers offered tips on how to continue to get organic keyword insights after Google stopped providing referring keyword data last fall, this post is one of the best: Mike Murray steps through a dozen techniques for organic keyword analysis, from opening an AdWords account and using Bing/Yahoo data through tracking search rankings and analyzing organic search landing page data.
Search: Not Provided: What Remains, Keyword Data Options, the Future byh Occam’s Razor
***** 5 STARS
In his typical thoroughly researched, profoundly well thought-out, incredibly detailed, and richly illustrated style, Avinash Kaushik examines the implications of the loss of organic keyword data; helpful metrics that remain available (such as Mutli-Channel Funnels in Google Analytics, organic landing page reports, and paid keyword data); alternatives for keyword data analysis; and possible future solutions (such as “page personality analysis”). It’s a great deal to absorb, but worth reading and bookmarking.
Google Webmaster Tools Search Query Data is Accurate (and Valuable) by Search Engine Watch
Yes, Google Webmaster Tools (WMT) data has become more valuable in the wake of the universal (not provided) issue, but no, it certainly isn’t perfect. Ben Goodsell does an exemplary job here explaining the value of GMT data for SEO analytics, the limitations of the data, and a “secret” workaround to get a bit more detail out of WMT reports.
(Not Provided) Changes the SEO Landscape by iMedia Connection
Dave Murrow steps back and takes a broad view of the keyword (not provided) issue, speculating on why Google may have made the change and recommending that marketers embrace not just new analytics tactics to deal with the loss of organic keyword data, but also strategic changes to website optimization overall.
Not Provided Keywords – SEO Reporting Without Keyword Data by SEER Interactive
Michelle Noonan walks through six techniques to help compensate for the loss of Google organic keyword data, inlcuding both the usual sources—Google WMT data, YaBing visits, keyword rankings—and unique ideas like reporting on referral traffic and looking for “unique markers to track” based on each specific client’s objectives and situation.
Ideas for Keyword (Not Provided) by LunaMetrics
Reid Bandremer lists 15 ideas for dealing with Google’s “keyword not provided” issue—including Google Webmaster Tools data, aksing users, and using paid data sources—but concludes that “There’s simply no magic bullet and no single one-size-fits-all solution to solving 100% keyword (not provided). Instead, what we have currently is a very complicated set of many different methods to uncover little gaps in insights left by (not provided).”
Panda, Penguin, Phantom, Hummingbird. Disappearing keyword data. Personal / universal / local / mobile search. These are indeed “interesting times” for SEO professionals, with rapid and wide-ranging changes to the search landscape being announced at an accelerating pace.
Given all of this change, what are the best practices for SEO as we head into 2014? Which SEO strategies, tactics, and ranking factors still apply? How have SEO techniques changed in the post-Penguin world? How do you recover rankings if your site is hit by a penalty?
Find the answers to these questions and more here in more than two dozen of the best SEO guides of 2013 so far.
SEO Guide, Tips and Best Practices
The Latest and Greatest SEO Strategies by Bad Rhino Rumblings
Amanda DiSilvestro and Nick LaRosa outline new SEO strategies, tools and resources. Among the strategies recommended are taking advantage of local search (e.g., by completely filling out profiles on Yelp, Bing Places, Yahoo Local, and Google+ Local) and posting frequently (“The more you post, the better chance you have for link building, sharing, and engagement opportunities—all important when it comes to SEO”).
Brian Rauschenbach outlines three broad areas important to focus on post-Panda, and three types of activities to avoid, such as complicated sitemaps and navigation: “With Panda, Google has pretty consistently made it clear that simple navigation is best; websites that require too much digging to find desired content could be negatively affected.”
Matt Peters breaks down the latest study into high-correlation factors for website rank. While there is a great deal of data here, at a high level: backlinks remain the most important part of the algorithm (though quality matters more than quantity; on-page keyword usage is still fundamental; and social factors may be more correlational than causational with high rankings.
Following up on the post above, Rand Fishkin presents the weighting of categories of ranking factors in Google, based on a survey of 128 SEO professionals. More than half of all the factors that determine a page’s rank are based on backlinks (e.g., quality of sites linking to the domain, anchor text distribution) or page-level keyword usage (content quality, relevance, meta tags, etc.).
The 10 New Rules for SEO by Business2Community
Rekha Mohan outlines a process for SEO in the post-Panda and Penguin world. The English is a bit rough but the information is useful. Most of what’s covered is well-trod ground, but the detail behind developing searcher personas and considering buyer intent are interesting.
SEO Reporting & Metrics: How to Prove Progress by Search Engine Watch
Krista LaRiviere steps through a process for reporting on SEO efforts to a client, starting wih five key questions such reporting should answer for clients (among them: “What impact did these efforts have on the web presence for organic search?”), and proceeding through setting expectations, goals, and benchmarks, and driving action items.
SEO Best Practices – 5 Tips to Get You Noticed by Masterful Marketing
The always engaging Debra Murphy details five tactics for optimizing rankings on Google, such as using responsive design to optimize cross-device user experiences: “This saves resources for your website and for Google’s crawlers. A responsive design makes it easier for your users to interact with, share, and link to your content while also helping Google’s algorithms assign the most relevant indexing properties for the content.”
How to Think Like Google by QuickSprout
Once you get past the annoying pop-ups on this site, you’ll find a detailed and valuable post from Neil Patel highlighting attributes that Google frowns upon in determining search rank (e.g., spam (comment and otherwise), malware, duplicate content, low quality inbound links) as well as things Google likes: authoritative content, social signals, and adapting your website to user needs.
7 Awesome Competitive Niche SEO Strategies by Search Engine People
Writing that “(in) SEO strategy for competitive niches…you need to win each of the small battles before you even think about declaring yourself the winner of the war,” Dennis Miedema recommends content marketing, local SEO, and industry networking among other strategies in industries with a high degree of SEO competition.
3 SEO Tactics We’re Easing Up On in 2013 by The WordStream Blog
Elisa Gabbert suggests that over-optimized anchor text, anchor text through infographic links, and guest posting are SEO tactics to ease up on. The first is obvious; the second two are more controversial, as exhibited in the large number of comments generated by this post.
SEO Audit Tips and Techniques
Rebecca Churt details a process for performing a competitive SEO analysis, beginning with identifying key competitors (in both search and the real world) and proceeding through taking action on your findings: “Think about how you will use this information — whether it be for your content strategy, product or service positioning, social engagement tactics, etc. — all of which help with your SEO in the long run.”
How to Do an SEO Audit of Your Website by Entrepreneur
AJ Kumar outlines a five-step process for performing an SEO audit on an existing website, from checking on-page optimization title tag content and length to comparing the site’s backlink profile to that of competitive sites in order to “uncover link-building patterns in your industry that you should be paying attention to.”
10 Insights from a Lite SEO Audit That Any Small Business Can Benefit From by Search Engine Watch
Glenn Gabe explains how even on a small website, a “lite” SEO audit can expose issues such as missing 301 redirects, broken links, site speed issues, and backlink problems (or simply a lack of relevant backlinks).
Infographic: How up-to-date are your SEO practices? by leaderswest Digital Marketing Journal
Jim Dougherty shares an infographic comparing “old” to “new” SEO practices, for example, the shift in importance from technical knowledge to marketing knowledge (unquestionable), from optimizing for search engines to optimizing for users, and from link building to link earning.
Infographic: 2013 SEO Ranking Factors, From SearchMetrics by Search Engine Land
This beautifully crafted infographic covers social, backlinking, technical and content-related factors in SEO. Among the key takeaways are that keyword domains and links have lost relevance, and that brands are the exception to many rules. Be cautious about placing too much faith in the accuracy of every factor, however, as advised in the (copius) comments generated by this post.
How Google Ranks Your Website – 200 Google Ranking Factors by Digital Information World
***** 5 STARS
This phenomenal infographic aggregates “the best information (available) about how Google ranks pages and websites,” with ranking elements divided in groups like domain factors, page-level factors, backlink factors, and user interaction among others.
Another excellent infographic illustrating the diference between “old” SEO (e.g., targeting a specific, narrow set of keywords based on search volume) and new SEO tactics for the post-Panda world (e.g., targeting a wider range of keywords based on intent and conversion data).
Post-Penguin SEO Guides
Google Penguin 2.0 vs. Black Hat SEO by SteamFeed
Brien Shanahan reports on high-traffic websites hit with Penguin penalties, including among several truly spammy sites unfortunately SalvationArmy.com, one of the most reputable and highly-rated charitable organzations, noting that “While Salvationarmy.com has many valuable links, it also appears to have thousands of links from low-quality websites.” He goes on to explain why these sites are penalized and how to recover from a Penguin penalty.
Winning with White Hat SEO in the Post-Penguin Era by SteamFeed
Brien Shanahan (again) contrasts black-hat SEO tactics (e.g., content spinning, link building, doorway pages) with whitehat tactics (creating useful content, social sharing) and details 10 white-hat techniques for achieving SEO success.
The Myth of Content Marketing, the New SEO & Penguin 2.0 by Search Engine Watch
Contending that “Content marketing isn’t new. It’s just a new buzzword picked up by other industries that suddenly found out they could to ‘do SEO,’, but they didn’t want to ‘do SEO,’ so they tried to make it more special. It isn’t,” Kristine Schachinger positions content marketing as just another SEO tactics, albeit one that’s always been very important, along with on-page optimization, legitimate link building, optimizing site load speed, and avoiding or fixing crawl errors.
Penguin 2.0: PANIIIIIIIIC!!!…(or not) by Search Engine Journal
Matt Burns explains seven changes to link-building tactics and their effects in the post-Panda environment: tiered linking and excessive keyword-match links are out, high authority and social links are, and guest blogging is in…for now.
It’s Time to Change the SEO Mindset by Search Engine Watch
***** 5 STARS
The brilliant David Harry argues that SEO today is not about link building but rather about “Content + Outreach + Social + Promotion + Brand reach,” which incorporates content development, PR, social media, and online advertising. Sounds just like web presence optimization (WPO), though he doesn’t use that term.
How to Recover from a Search Engine Penalty
How to Recover from Panda Dance by Kaiser the Sage
Jason Acidre supplies seven tips for recovering from “Panda dance” penalties in search rankings, including improving low-performing landing pages (“Start with the pages that you believe are important and optimize these landing pages to mainly increase user dwell time”) and making updates to evergreen landing pages, such as lists of industry resources.
Phanteguin: A Phantom & Penguin One-Two Punch From Google by Search Engine Watch
Glenn Gabe (again) explains how to recover from penalties resulting from “Phanteguin,” the “one-two punch from Google” on sites hit by both Phantom and Penguin. He explains not just the differences between the two algorithmic changes, but also between Penguin 1.0 and Penguin 2.0, how to identify a Phanteguin penalty, and steps to take to recover lost rankings and traffic.
Google Panda, Penguin & Phantom: 3 Recovery Examples by Search Engine Watch
Glann Gabe (once more) presents three real-world case studies highlighting recovery from tanking rankings due to each of Google’s three most recent major algorithmic changes.
David Mercer provides a detailed, step-by-step account of a real-world recovery from a Panda penalty, from improving site speed and fixing broken links to redesigning the page template and disavowing low0-quality backlinks. Some of his advice will be hard to swallow, however, such as “stop syndicating content.” And anyway, isn’t Google Authorship supposed to take care of that issue?
Speeding Up Your WordPress Blog’s Load Times by Find My Blog Way
Matthew Barby demonstrates how to measure page load time and then minimize it (focused on WordPress sites) using a variety of techniques, from compressing images and caching “everything” to setting up a content delivery network.
Reclaim Lost Link Juice by Capturing 404 URLs by Search Engine Journal
Noting that changing URLs to a more search-friendly structure can cause 404 errors, traffic loss and even reduced site authority, James Parsons details two methods for identifying 404 errors and correcting them, in this helpful technical post.
Considering that the average b2b website gets about 40% of traffic from organic search, with some sites getting as much as two-thirds of all visits via search engines, effective search engine optimization (SEO) remains a vital strategy.
But precisely what constitutes “best practices” in SEO is a continually (and lately, rapidly) moving target. Yesterday’s on-page optimization and link building tactics—even those used with the best, non-manipulative intentions—may get a site penalized in search rankings today for being “over-optimized.” (You can’t be too rich or too thin, but apparently you can be too optimized.)
So what’s a marketing manager, PR professional or SEO specialist to do? Keep up with SEO trends and changes. Optimize off-site content (for example, on YouTube and other social platforms). Use effective SEO tools and marketing metrics. Create link-worthy content. Use social signals to boost rankings. Learn how to do all of that and then some here in more than three dozen of the best SEO guides and tips from the past year.
General SEO Tips and Guides
When Search Becomes Invisible by MediaPost Search Blog
Laurie Sullivan explores how online advertisers and search engine optimizers will adjust to a not-too-distant future “when the act of typing keywords into a search box to create a query becomes invisible? The act of searching for information will blend into voice-assisted programs, with geolocation targeting supported by data.” She reports on how Google, Ask, online ad platform vendors and others are simultaneously creating and adjusting to these changes in technology.
4 questions to ask when hiring an SEO consultant by iMedia Connection
Louis Rix recommends four questions that marketers ask before hiring an outside SEO consultant or firm, such as what kinds of reports they provide and how they build links (great question). His fourth suggested question is a bit tricky however, as even the author notes that “Nobody can promise you a No. 1 ranking.”
10 Elements of a Perfectly Optimized Page by Search Engine Watch
Gareth Owen presents 10 important elements for on-page SEO, though he acknowledges that “perfect” may be stretching things a bit (“It’s worth noting that the ‘perfectly optimized page’ above won’t be perfect for all verticals, or for all brands – not everyone has the ability to add customer reviews to their product pages”).
4 Enterprise SEO Trends to Watch in 2012 by ClickZ
Adam Audette outlines four trends he sees in SEO, among them “Further Corporatization of SEO in the Enterprise: The trend over the last several years has increasingly shown SEO teams ‘go within’ at large companies. This is a trend I’ve long supported and recommended, for example in my piece on in-house SEO teams. In fact, for enterprise companies to realize exceptional results in SEO, they almost always require a dedicated internal SEO team. That’s the case today primarily because incremental gains are harder to achieve.” True perhaps, but this is not necessarily a trend in small to midsized firms yet.
5 big SEO changes you might have missed by iMedia Connection
Going beyond the usual SEO guidance, Lisa Wehr explains how to capitalize on mobile and local search, Google encrypted search results, and even Google+ and Facebook: “Where on a social site can you insert keywords? From Google+ profiles to Facebook info sections, you can display keywords and all of your business web properties (website, Twitter, YouTube, corporate blog, etc).”
SEO Strategy for New Domains by Search Engine Journal
Writing that “When you first launch a new website, it’s a blank slate in the eyes of Google and the other search engines,” Sujan Patel serves up a five-step plan for gaining search ranking, from “make sure that your site is set up as effectively as possible from an internal SEO standpoint” to planning for ongoing optimization.
5 Best Practices for Global SEO by ClickZ
For websites that are truly global in terms of their market targeting, Crispin Sheridan offers a handful of helpful tips for optimization, among them engaging in local link building: “Link building, whether through traditional efforts such as outreach programs or guest blogging, social media, and leveraging partnerships, will always be one of the strongest ways to obtain more favorable rankings. In addition to helping with rankings, the search engines will look at the origin of the links to help determine local relevance. For example, a Chinese site that has a large number of links coming from other China-based sites will have a stronger authority within the local China search engines.”
7 Signs That You’re Overvaluing Search Engine Optimization by MarketingSherpa
Reporting that nearly a third of b2b marketers “consider search engine optimization to be very effective — more than email marketing, content marketing, and most noticeably, paid search,” Daniel Burstein outlines warning signs that a company may be overvaluing SEO, to the detriment of considerations like providing valuable content and optimizing for conversions.
Create A YouTube Traffic Jam With These 4 Simple Optimization Tips by KISSmetrics
***** 5 STARS
While it’s not SEO strictly speaking, optimizing your YouTube videos for search is a great way to increase brand exposure, and to (indirectly) drive website traffic. Brian Honigman provides an outstanding, comprehensive guide to optimizing videos from tags and titles to playlists, annotations and channel branding.
Confirmed: Google+ Is Critical To Your Search Rankings by Sean Clark
Sean Clark contends that “Keywords (are) a thing of the past,” and that social media signals (particularly from Google+) are the future of search engine ranking signals. True? Perhaps. Carefully consider Sean’s arguments and those of his commenters.
Scott Gilbertson reports on DuckDuckHack, “a developer platform that allows anyone to add new features to the search engine.” The platform enables anyone to write plugins (to go along with current “goodies” like time-based queries and unit conversions) for the search engine and share them. Is this article really one of the best SEO guides of the past year? Maybe not, but it’s hard not to love DuckDuckGo.
9 Lessons from 1,000 SEO Questions by SEOmoz
Dr. Peter J. Meyers distills the answers to 1,000 private questions asked of SEOmoz into this compact summary of SEO wisdom, such as “One-trick Ponies Make Good Glue…People naturally get comfortable with one aspect of search marketing (link-building, on-page, social, etc.) and then want to ‘perfect’ it, but at best they hit diminishing returns fast.”
Google Webmaster Tools: An Overview by Search Engine Watch
Simon Heseltine offers a helpful guide to the features in Google Webmaster Tools, from getting started through navigating the dashboard, messages, configuration, assessing a website’s health (e.g. through crawl errors), search queries, internal links, sitemaps and more.
Rand Fishkin dispels myths that shouldn’t be keeping SEO practitioners awake at night, such as having a large number of backlinks from a single domain (unless the linking site is really spammy or the links were built manipulatively) or keyword density that’s “too high.”
10 SEO measurements every marketer should know by Biznology
Noting that “80% of people who visit a website get there from typing a keyword in the query box of a search engine” (seems a bit high, your mileage will vary) and “90% click on websites on the first page” (of search results), Rob Petersen defines 10 imperative SEO metrics for marketers, from the number of keywords driving traffic to the number of pages indexed by search engines.
7 Small Business SEO Tips by Search Engine Watch
Adam Stetzer suggests “seven small business SEO tips to help earn more business through traditional organic search rankings,” among them understanding that onsite SEO is necessary but not sufficient; that creating engaging content is critical; and that content marketing should be used to earn backlinks (“Quality content containing humor, information, controversy, politics or training usually brings backlinks – and is definitely considered acceptable SEO”).
SEO Tips for Panda and Penguin
Interview of Jonah Stein by SEO Book
Aaron Wall has a long, detailed conversion with SEO expert Jonah Stein about the impact of Google’s series of Panda algorithm updates, and how to respond to penalties. One key line from Jonah: “It is short sighted to believe that any of the SEO niche strategies are going to survive if they are not supported with PR, social, PPC and display.” Which is pretty much what the web presence optimization (WPO) framework is designed to address.
What is your SEO Social Signals Strategy? by iMedia Connection
Krista LaRiviere reveals, in her words, “how Google’s algorithm changes impact both backlinking and social signaling; how to build an SEO social signals strategy; how your SEO backlinking and social signals strategies come together in your content strategy; (and) how to measure it all.”
Google Plans SEO Over-Optimization Penalty by Practical eCommerce
Jill Kocher provides some details about Google’s throw-the-baby-out-with-the-bathwater approach to penalizing “over-optimization.” For example, one sign of over-optimization to Google is reportedly “Linking repeatedly from body copy to a handful of key pages with optimized anchor text. If 33 of my 100 pages link to www.jillsfakesite.com from the body copy with the anchor text “Jills Fake Site,” that should count as over-optimization.” Never mind that there may be perfectly legitimate reasons for doing this, and it may improve the user experience.
6 Changes Every SEO Should Make BEFORE the Over-Optimization Penalty Hits – Whiteboard Friday by SEOmoz
Speaking of over-optimization, Rand Fishkin (again) here reviews half a dozen ways to avoid Google’s “over-optimization” penalties, including this on in-content text links: “go with logical, useful, change it up when you’re linking to pages, maybe a couple of times, in some spaces. You have a blog post and it mentions a page on your site that you want people to actually go to and that you think is useful in context. Great, link over there. Fine, use the anchor text. Maybe use a modified version of the anchor text, a little longer, a little shorter, a little more natural sounding, and you’re going to get these same results, but you’re going to do it in a much more effective way. You’re not going to be at risk of whatever is happening with this over-optimization penalty.”
James Mathewson outlines four ways Google is killing SEO, including semantic search: “How do SEOs traditionally optimize pages? By advising their clients to put keywords in strategic places on a page. When Google goes to semantic search, it won’t be as much about keywords at all, but on the meaning of the words you use. This might be the biggest SEO killer of all. If tuning our content for keywords our users care about is no longer an effective strategy, what is left for SEOs?” He believes content strategy is the new SEO.
SEO & Content Marketing: Getting The Most Visibility For Your Valuable Content by MediaPost Search Insider
Observing that “with recent algorithm updates, Google has noticeably placed renewed emphasis on unique, relevant, and timely content. Clearly there’s a marriage between SEO and content marketing,” frequent best-of honoree Janet Driscoll Miller explains how to capitalize in search on difficult-to-optimize content such as information that’s behind a registration wall, infographics and PDFs.
How to Identify Search Engine Penalties by Search Engine Journal
Reassuring that “Not all search engine penalties are permanent, and with a little detective work and remedial action, you should be able to restore your previous rankings and rebuild the flow of organic traffic to your site,” Sujan Patel (again) outlines a five-step process to determine if your site has been penalized, and it so, recover from it.
For those concerned about Google’s Panda update (which is to say, anyone involved in SEO), Lisa Buyer highlights a number of resources for help including guidance on optimizing beyond Google, including advertising, socializing, pinning, profiling, twittering, and more.
Laurie Sullivan (again) reports that “Content shared from Facebook and the amount of backlinks appear to influence organic search engine results most, but Google +1s have the strongest impact on rankings,” and that recent analysis of Google ranking factors in the post-Panda-and-Penguin era suggests that social signals will play an increasing role in site ranking.
6 Months with Panda: A Story of Complacency, Hard Decisions, and Recovery by Search Engine Journal
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In this must-read case study for any site hit by Panda, Glenn Gabe explains how even a large, mature, well-respected website with a stellar link profile can get hit with Panda penalties, what caused this to happen, and the single most important thing that needed to be done to regain ranking and traffic.
7 Achievable Steps For Great SEO After The Penguin Update by SEOmoz
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This post from Chris Warren would be a must-read for anyone struggling with search traffic issues in the post-Penguin era even if it only contained steps one (“Understand your link profile…The biggest risk factors are a combination of lots of low quality links with targeted anchor text”), two (“Learn what makes a good link…there is a lot of evidence that these high value links are really the main drivers of a domain’s link authority”) and five (“almost never change your URLs”).
Understanding Penguin 1.1: Be Safe from Updates in 3 Easy Steps by Search Engine Journal
Muzzammil Bambot steps through some of the biggest negative factors in post-Penguin search ranking and how to correct those, from getting rid of paid links and excessive links from a single domain to having too many exact-match text links (solved by increasing the diversity of text link variations).
3 Ways to Use Social Media to Improve Your Search Rankings by Social Media Examiner
AJ Kumar suggests strategies for using social media to improve search rank, but just as importantly to “future-proof” your site from still more Google algorithm changes by using social media to reduce your reliance on organic search traffic, for example by including “prominent social sharing buttons at both the top and bottom of each blog post on your website (or use a scrolling option that moves down the page alongside your readers).”
10 Ways Coding Can Help Your SEO by Search Engine Journal
Sujan Patel (once again) provides an excellent collection of SEO tips, here focused on technical factors that can affect rankings. Among his recommendations: use a search engine spider simulator to validate your code for spider-friendliness; create search-optimized page URLs; and combine script files to speed up page load times.
How Google’s Panda and Penguin are affecting your site’s rankings by iMedia Connection
Kent Lewis does a commendable job of explaining how Google’s Panda and Penguin updates affected search rankings, and practical steps for avoiding penalties and regaining rankings (e.g., “Cancel or remove unnecessary footer links. Take it easy on the internal ‘SEO’ linking”), though his contention that “A minority of those sites (negatively affected by these algorithm changes) may be legitimate, but a majority of those impacted were consciously in violation” is questionable, particularly given the experiences of other experts noted above.
10 Old SEO Methods You Need to Stop by Search Engine Watch
Greg Habermann warns against 10 SEO “techniques” that no longer work (or never really did), including Ezine Articles submissions, “news” release without any real news (produced just for links), link exchanges, thin content, and spider-unfriendly web design.
Top 1 SEO Tips for 2013 by SEOmoz
Pete Myers (again) shares his single most valuable SEO tip for 2013, writing that: “While I can’t tell you Google’s next move, I can tell you one thing with absolute certainty – there’s more to come. So, how can you protect what you’ve built in 2013? I was going to write a long list of suggestions, but I realized that they almost all boiled down to just one idea. I’m not going to toy with you – my top tip for 2013 SEO is…”
Best SEO Infographics
On page content SEO Puzzle #infographic by WordPress Hosting SEO
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Writing that “SEO is a large and dynamic puzzle…to have a successful SEO strategy, you will need to all of the pieces of the puzzle together,” Berrie Pelser presents an easy-to-grasp infographic covering the basics of on-page optimization, coding, site architecture, social factors, reputation, links and more.
The History of Search Engine Marketing by Erik Holladay
Erik Holladay shares an infographic from Markus Allen that details the major ranking factors used by the leading search engines and the significant changes and upgrades made to ranking algorithms from Lycos and WebCrawler in 1994 through Google’s Panda algorithm update.
A Simple SEO Audit For Your Website by Soulati Media
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Jayme Soulati share a helpful infographic outlining the process for a basic website SEO audit, from content (fresh? Keyword-stuffed? Easy to read?) through technical considerations (navigation, crawl issues, broken links) to backlinks (spammy or paid vs. relevant and high-quality).
Infographic: The New Face of Search Engine Optimization by Marketing Technology Blog
Douglas Karr presents an excellent SEO infographic contrasting what used to work in terms of keyword targeting, user experience, on-site content (e.g., “stuff title tags with keywords”), anchor text, directory submissions, news releases, and more, to what works today (e.g., “social traction correlates with links…Google+, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Pinterest are the most important SM platforms to SEO”).
Unless you’ve been living under a rock (which would be an awkward and uncomfortable place from which to do search engine optimization work), you’re probably aware that the two most important things to know about link building in the post-Panda world are that 1) backlinks are still very important for ranking, and 2) traditional link-building methods (or at least many of them) are no longer effective. In its efforts to combat webspam, Google now ignores or even penalizes “unnatural” link profiles.
So what types of links should you avoid? What kinds of links are still (or now) the most valuable? How can you get more high-quality links? What tools are most helpful in link building efforts?
Find the answers to those questions and more here in almost two dozen of the best link-building guides and tool reviews of the past year.
Link Building Guides, Techniques and Tips
Six Degrees Of SEO Bacon & B2B Link Building Q&A by Search Engine Land
Debra Mastaler answers seminar questions posed to her and Scott Fasser of Optify on b2b link building tactics, such as “Q: Is submitting press releases as a method for link building efficient? A: Press releases, if submitted properly, are an effective way to build short term links and to syndicate news and content…Having a plan for syndicating on a regular basis – no less than monthly is the best strategy. Optimizing the release for the focus keywords and submitted with the right service is a good strategy – especially when combined with an on-going PR effort to build excitement for news and participate in reviews, stories and roundups.”
Link Building From Scratch by Search Engine Watch
Julie Joyce details 16 different kinds of links along with the pros and cons of pursuing each, ranging from the easy-to-get-but-not-worth-much (e.g., directory links) to the challenging-but-valuable (infographics and widget links).
Observing that “Despite what most SEOs will tell you, it’s not easy to create outstanding content that people will want to link to,” Jon Cooper provides “10 fantastic examples of link bait and what makes them so spectacular,” such as Thomson’s Evolution of Music, “a visualization of how music has traveled over the past 200 years…Why was it successful?…The two main reasons it was successful are the quality of the visualization and the social share buttons on the page. Making it easy to share gets the page in front of more eyes, and more eyes means more links.” Jon didn’t say these examples were easy, just extraordinary.
The End of Link Building as We’ve Known and Loved it by Search Engine Watch
Frequent best-of honoree Eric Enge notes that traditional link-building methods (even white-hat tactics) simply don’t work as well as they used to in the old world of search engine algorithms, and offers eight recommendations for tactics to create a valuable groundswell of spontaneous links, among them blogging, engaging in social media, writing news releases, advertising on targeted sites…in short, using a web presence optimization framework approach.
Noting that authoritative links still play a highly significant role in ranking, the brilliant Neil Patel supplies 10 rules for attracting such links, such as writing content that attracts editorial links; creating a desirable (and original) image library; writing columns or guest posts; and knowing what kinds of sites to avoid for link building.
13 Unconventional Link Building Strategies by Search Engine Journal
Need more than 10 rules? Here, Sujan Patel (Neil’s cousin) lists 13 more tips (with surprisingly little overlap to Neil’s list) including asking your local library to link to you as a reference; setting up speaking gigs; and interviewing experts in your field.
How to Avoid an Unnatural Links Penalty by AboutUs
Kristina Weis explains plainly and concisely how Google evaluates “unnatural” links, the specific types of links to avoid (paid, sitewide, blog networks), and some common backlink-checking tools (another is Backlink Watch).
Noting that Google’s efforts to deindex “overoptimized” websites are likely to penalize many legitimate sites as well as spammy site, Modesto Siotos provides detailed instructions for a more technical audience on how to check your “backlink risk,” the tools required, and remedial actions to take if it appears your site could be at risk of a Google penalty.
Preparing for Link Armageddon by Search Engine Journal
Jeff Bedford laments Google’s decision to deindex several major blog networks, which particularly impacted blogs that relied heavily on syndication networks for inbound links. He then outlines several tactics for replacing those links, from tradition PR to social relationship building, forums and guest blogging.
Linking Strategies: The Complete Guide by Coconut Headphones
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Ted Ives offers an outstanding guide to link building, with tactics organized into five main categories: Highly Effective (e.g., produce great content, optimize news releases, ask partners for links); Worth Considering (coupons, commenting); Hard to Get Right; Wildcard Approaches (such as infographics); and Black Hat (best to avoid).
The Noob Guide to Link Building by SEOmoz
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Once you’ve absorbed Ted’s post above, Michael King serves up another long, detailed, and excellent (though also misnamed; true noobs will be lost, and this post has value for SEOs well beyond the noob stage) six-month link building plan, starting with quick hits like social profiles and select directories and moving along through ego bait, guest posts and event publicity.
8 Link Building Tips – Whiteboard Friday by SEOmoz
Paddy Moogan presents eight link-building tips in eight minutes. My favorite: “Go to Meetup.com and search for the word ‘blogger’ and refine the results by your area, and you’ll find local bloggers meeting up in the same place. So you may find music bloggers, design bloggers, fashion bloggers. Instead of emailing all of those people, just go to the event. Go and meet them, say hello, buy them a drink, go and have dinner. It’s a much better way of building a relationship than just firing (out) a bunch of emails.”
Quality Links & Quality Content: Linchpins of Your SEO Strategy by Search Engine Watch
Christian Arno discusses what constitutes a “quality link” (site relevance and trust) and how to go about getting more of them (PR, guest posts, social media, and other web presence optimization tactics), as well as consistently producing quality, link-worthy content.
Link Building Strategies That Will Work in 2013 by PPC for Hire
Jon Clark outlines half a dozen “Penguin-safe” link-building strategies, such as making the most of internal site links, posting on industry-specific forums, and linking out: “Whenever you come across a blog or site relevant to your niche, participate in the conversation with the author and other readers via comments. Leave fresh, useful and informative comments and create a backlink to your website.”
Rand Fishkin pontificates on “the egress of old link building practices and the ingress of new (old) link earning strategies that will help your site stay relevant in the SERPs and drive your traffic with a better user experience,” concluding that while certain “old school” link-building tactics may still have some value, content marketing will be the most important practice going forward.
SEO Link Building Q&A with an Ex-Google Webspam Team Member by Search Engine Journal
Jason DeMers interviews Andre Weyher, a former member of the webspam team at Google, about backlinking do’s and don’ts. Among the answers: on how Penguin determines which domains to penalize, “The most obvious element that it focuses on is ranking due to a large amount of bad quality backlinks but it also takes into account spammy on-page techniques like keyword stuffing and over-optimization of tags and internal links;” on how identifies bad neighborhoods, “Search engines rely on website fingerprinting to identify clusters of ownership. If a particular website is relying on techniques that are not abiding the guidelines, it’s likely that the other sites owned by the same person are doing the same;” and regarding misconceptions about bad links, “Some of the biggest misconceptions that I have seen out there include ‘directories are altogether bad’ or ‘anything that is below a certain PR is considered spammy by Google.’”
131 (Legitimate) Link Building Strategies by Search Engine Watch
Julie Joyce (again) compiles a huge list of link-building tactics and tips, divided into categories including basic techniques, content-based tactics, b2b-specific tips, pointers for guest posting, and practices to avoid (such as spammy links or those unlikely to drive any traffic).
How to Get Rid of Unwanted Backlinks by Search Engine Watch
Noting that, due to Google’s Penguin update, “for many websites (and a lot of business models that involve selling 50,000 links for $10) the sky is falling. Websites that have built an unnatural looking backlink profile using a strategy of aggressive exact match anchor text usage are setting off Google’s spam alarm,” Jennifer Van Iderstyne explains how to identify and rid yourself of “bad” backlinks, and lists some of her favorite backlink research tools.
17 Tools to Analyze Your Links by Practical eCommerce
Sig Ueland reviews 17 tools for analyzing a site’s backlink profile, ranging from “dedicated link identifiers, full search-engine-optimization suites, and link tools for search engines,”, free and paid. The list includes both popular tools like Majestic SEO and Open Site Explorer as well as lesser-known alternatives like Ahrefs.
Five Killer Link-building Tools by SitePoint
Writing that “As far as link-building tools go, there are two main sorts: those that help with the data and analysis side of things, and those that focus more on speeding up the process of building relationships with other site owners” but “knowing which tools to pick from the wide variety available can be tricky,” Christina Fusano recommends a handful of excellent and proven tools, including BuzzStream and Raven Tools.
Steven Musil reports on Google’s disavow links tool, designed to enable webmasters to remove links they believe might be hurting their search rankings. Of course, it’s not always obvious what constitutes a “bad” link, and if good links are accidentally deleted, it’s a time-consuming process to get them reinstated. Still, this is a vital tool—when all else fails.
4 Tools Breaking Your Backlinks into Categories by Internet Marketing Ninjas
The awesome Ann Smarty reviews four tools for categorizing backlinks in various ways, such as by source type (e.g., news site, blog, directory), topic (general, computers, fashion) and placement (footer, site-wide, image, comment), which can be very helpful in executing a web presence optimization strategy. The good news is that all of these tools can provide some valuable filtering and insights; the bad news is none yet provide a high level of comprehensiveness and accuracy.
79 Link Building Resources for 2012 by KISSmetrics
If you just can’t enough link building information, Kristi Hines here provides links to 79 more link-building resources ranging from “Thought Pieces on Post-Penguin Link Building” and types of links to avoid to the top link-building tools and blogs.