Posts Tagged ‘search engine optimization’
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
***** 5 STARS
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
***** 5 STARS
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.
SEO remains the most cost-effective way to drive website traffic. B2B websites often receive anywhere from 30%-60% from organic search, with 50% or more sometimes coming from Google alone.
But SEO is changing. Directory links are worth less, social links worth more, site performance is increasing in importance, site age is decreasing…how is a digital marketer to keep up?
Discover how to use Google Analytics data, technical tweaks, website audits, keyword research, fresh content, social media activities and more for SEO success here in 20 more of the best SEO guides of 2011, a follow-up to 40 of the Best SEO Guides, Tips and Insights of 2011 (So Far) published last November.
7 Sure-Fire Signs Your SEO Sucks by HubSpot Blog
Corey Eridon presents signs that your SEO efforts may be headed down the wrong path, along with guidance for fixing each issue. Example: “2.) Content sounds like it was written by an SEO expert from 1999. There are lots of things from the 90s that are still quite magical in 2011: alternative music, Fresh Prince of Bel Air, boy band choreography. 90s SEO is not on that list.”
Using Data to Drive SEO Results by Search Engine Watch
Ray “Catfish” Comstock explains how to divide the SEO data analytics process into three main phases–performance reporting, opportunity identification (e.g., identifying new keywords, internal and external linking opportunities) and prioritization–what data to consider in each phase, and what actions to take based on this analysis.
18 things you need to know about SEO by Bing Webmaster Center Blog
Duane Forrester steps through the major search factors for Bing (though most apply more broadly), including crawlability (e.g., use a simple URL structure, avoid session variables or docIDs, include an XML sitemap and a robots.txt file), content hierarchy and on-page factors, as well as “black hat” tactics to avoid.
301 Redirects: Implementing Your SEO ‘Change of Address’ Card by MediaPost Search Insider
Explaining that “301 redirects are like a ‘change of address’ card for the search engines — they indicate that an existing page URL has moved and where the search engine can find it,” Janet Driscoll Miller shows how to create these vital page redirects on Linux and IIS servers.
10 Concepts Critical for Aligning SEO to B2B Marketing Strategy by Search Engine Watch
Derek Edmond asks 10 B2B marketers—including Dianna Huff, Stephanie Tilton, Elizabeth Sosnow (“SEOs have an opportunity to become better storytellers, instead of appearing to be simply ‘link-builders’ in the eyes of some of their clients”), and HubSpot’s Kipp Bodnar—for their thoughts on how “SEOs can better align with strategic marketing.”
Understanding Google’s new sitelinks by Pure Visibility
Eric Wortman explains what Google sitelinks are, how they work, when Google displays them, what this means for your company website, and what you can do to take advantage of this expanded real estate now available on page one of Google results.
Understanding key search engine ranking factors is vital for SEO success, and Google keeps this challenge interesting with its continual algorithm changes. Rather than focus on the current top ranking factors here though, Dan Deceuster speculates about the future and divides what he believes will become more critical ranking factors into six “v” categories: value, validity, variety, vision, volume and visitors.
The First 7 Items On Your SEO Audit To-Do List by Search Engine Watch
Frequent best-of honoree Eric Enge steps through the seven most important tasks for a one-day SEO site audit, starting with looking at Google Webmaster Tools information for the site and working through site stats, crawl issues and competitive backlink comparisons.
HOW TO: Guide to Performing Website Audits by Techipedia
Harrison Jones walks through a mix of art (content optimization, meta tags, website design) and science (canonicalization, microdata, website architecture, and use of the insidious nofollow tag) techniques for auditing and optimizing a website.
Bringing Down the House: How SEO is Like Blackjack by Content Marketing Institute
Brendan Cournoyer compares SEO to blackjack, with Google as the dealer (the “house”) and SEO practitioners as the various players at the table, some relying on skill and others trying less savory tactics to win the game—tactics that sometimes produce short-term wins but at the risk large losses in the end.
10 SEO Metrics you can’t live without by SEO Takeaways
In solid thought though slightly broken English, Himanshu Sharma details the three most important dimensions and ten most critical metrics to track within Google Analytics for SEO purposes, concluding that “These are the only 10 metrics you need to quickly and accurately track the performance of any traffic source or dimension.”
An SEO Checklist for New Sites – Whiteboard Friday by The Daily SEO Blog
Frequent best-of honoree Rand Fishkin steps through his recommended SEO checklist for optimizing new websites, beginning with accessibility and keyword targeting and progressing through considerations like content quality, design, usability and link building.
8 Durable SEO Elements by Search Engine Watch
How should SEOs cope with Google’s constantly changing algorithms, which can cause wild short-term gyrations in rankings? (Other than with alcohol?) Erez Barak believes that these eight elements remain durable through the Google chaos, including basic on-page optimization, quality inbound links, positive user experience (e.g. page load speed) and content freshness.
Ten things you didn’t know about SEO by The Globe and Mail
Noting that SEO is more difficult to control than email marketing or paid search because “Tracking, measuring and reporting results has become increasingly complicated, especially since factors affecting SEO change on a daily basis,” Krista LaRiviere of gShift Labs identifies 10 key concepts to understand for SEO success, among them keyword research, legitimate backlinks, quality content and social signals.
Are you placing too big of a bet on social media’s direct impact on SEO rankings? by ZDNet Whistleblower Blog
Stephen Chapman contends that social signals don’t play as large a role in Google rankings many people believe they do, as they should, and as they likely eventually will. Using data on several well-regarded and unknown SEO companies, he shows that keyword links, even as part of an unnatural link profile, still play an outsized role in rankings.
The 10 Google Panda ranking factors by The Web Citizen
Ilias Chelidonis presents an infographic showing the key ranking factors post-Panda, such as overall website quality and trust, brand indicators and social signals, as well as a timeline of the Panda rollout and updates.
How to Optimize PDFs and Documents for Search by Link-Assistant.com
PDFs are a challenge for SEO: they are the ideal method to present certain types of content (e.g. long reports), but offer few options for optimization. Olga Gabdulkhakova identifies five tactics that can be used to improve search rankings for PDF documents, such as including keywords in titles, making sure the text is indexed, and building links just as one would to HTML content.
Beyond SEO: Retaining the Visitor by Search Engine Land
Josh McCoy advises focusing on the user experience as much as SEO; it’s not enough just to get visitors to your site, what adds value is keeping them there and, ultimately, getting them to convert. Among his recommendations: quit using (or minimize the use of) PDFs; make sure links to external sites (e.g. your social profiles) open in a new window so you aren’t sending visitors away; and my favorite, “provide me with a main navigation that gives me a roadmap to an end goal that makes us both happy. There is nothing interesting about navigation queues like Home, Services, Careers, and About Us.”
Introducing the Controversial Theory of “Peak SEO” by Coconut Headphones
***** 5 STARS
Ted Ives compares keywords to crude oil, an analogy that makes some sense as the supply of both is fixed. Beginning with “Each keyword is like a tiny oil well, that will always give up some oil, but only with increasing effort over time. Eventually the keyword becomes too expensive to bother with, so you must move on. But what happens when there are no more keywords to move on to?” he notes that the situation is actually worse than that, as SERPS become increasingly cluttered with maps and the like, and more people try to get into the search field. Fortunately, Ted also notes several potential paths out of this conundrum.
Preparing For A New Era Of B2B SEO by Search Engine Land
***** 5 STARS
Writing that “as we move into 2012 and beyond, quality SEO is about having your marketing assets findable when customers are searching across the dimensions of the pre-, present, and future stages of the purchase cycle,” Brad Neelan outlines SEO strategy and execution for B2B marketers, including an outstanding B2B SEO Framework diagram suitable for presentations and posting on cubicle walls.
While search engines use hundreds of signals to determine how any particular web page should rank for a given search phrase query, all of those signals feed into two primary measures: relevance and authority.
Relevance is principally determined by content and other site-wide or on-page factors. For example, on a search for information about a specific breed of dog, a page devoted to that breed would typically be deemed more relevant than a page about dogs in general. And a page on site solely focused on dogs would likely be judged by the search engines to be more relevant than a page on a site about domestic pets, or animals in general.
Authority is predominantly determined by the quantity and quality of external links to a site. One common technique for building links in the past was to submit a website to hundreds of general online directories. The major search engines have now caught on to this tactic, however, and discount links from low-quality directories to the point where they are nearly worthless.
It’s still helpful to be listed in a few of the well-respected, higher-quality online business directories, but the focus of link building is now through social media, content sharing and online PR activities. In short, links can’t be bought (at least not without risk) and they can’t be spammed—they have to be earned by producing great content and exposing it to key influencers in your industry.
On-page search engine optimization (SEO) is a set of techniques for making it clear to the search engines what each page, and your website overall, is about. Think of these signals like the dust jacket of a book; you can discern quite a bit about what a book is about just by the cover, promotional blurbs and table of contents. Similarly, the search engines use meta tags, page headings and other signals to assess the relevancy of your site for given search phrases.
Each page on your site should have one main search phrase assigned to it, though often the page will also rank well for associated phrases (in the example below, the page optimized for records management software may also rank well for phrases such as “records management software system” and “records management software solution”).
Here are eight ways to utilize that key phrase on a page to help search engines understand what your site is about.
1. In the body text. The target search phrase should appear at least twice in the body text of the page, and more than twice for long content pages. There’s no need to overdo this, however, and search engines may actually penalize your site for “keyword stuffing”—using the same phrase with unnatural frequency. The text should always read well to a human visitor. Mix in synonymous phrases as well, such as, in this case, phrases like “records management system” or “RM software.”
2. In page headings and subheads. Not every word on a page has equal value. Putting the main idea (your target key search phrase) in headings and subheads emphasizes its important.
3. In the meta title tag. This is one of the most important single elements for SEO, akin to the title of a book. You have (depending on who you believe) somewhere between 65 and 85 characters to tell the search engines what is most important about this page. Use them carefully, wisely and judiciously. You can find more detailed guidance on writing effective title tags here and here.
4. In the site navigation menus. Too often, websites use generic menu text like “Products” and “Services.” Using specific phrases instead is more meaningful both to site visitors and to search engines.
5. In the page file name (end of the URL). Except for the home page on your site (which has to named either Index, Home or Default), you have complete freedom (within reasonable number-of-character limits) to name pages whatever you like. Using a specific phrase helps with SEO, and also makes your page stand out in the search results.
6. In the page meta tags (description and keywords). The description title tag isn’t specifically used by search engines, but it’s value lies in “selling” your page to searchers. It should give searchers a compelling reason to click on your link. Including the key search phrase in the description tag isn’t strictly required, but can help demonstrate the relevance of your page to searchers.
The keywords meta tag is optional. The major search engines no longer use this tag in formulating their rankings (or at least they say they don’t). On the plus side, the tag may still be used by some of the smaller search engines, and it’s helpful internally for organizing SEO efforts. On the downside, it takes time to craft, and it shows your competitors which search terms you are focused on (not that they couldn’t figure this out using other methods). In short, this tag probably doesn’t help much, but it doesn’t hurt either.
7. In image file names and alt tags. These attributes help with image searches as well as regular search. Instead of naming an image file IMG02134.jpg or something similarly meaningless, use a search-friendly file name like electric-blue-widget.jpg (or whatever is relevant for your product, service or topic). Also include a descriptive image alt tag; this is the text that appears in a browser with images turned off and also used for accessibility (e.g. speech browsers for the visually impaired). But the tag is also used be search engines to categorize your image, since search engines can’t “read” the content of the image itself.
8. In internal text links. Let’s say you have one page on your site completely dedicated to “electric blue widgets,” but you use that phrase in passing on other pages of the site as well. From those pages, link the phrase “electric blue widgets” (or variations of it, such as “blue electric widgets”) to the main page on that topic. Again, these links serve as signals to both human readers and search engines that they can find more detailed information about that topic on the target page.
The most fundamental element for on-site optimization is high-quality original content. Strive to write the “ultimate page” for someone searching on that particular topic. Then use these eight techniques to provide helpful guideposts for both human readers and search engines to draw them to that compelling information.
Ranking well in organic search results becomes more imperative every day, particularly in the B2B world. According to recent research, 9 out of 10 B2B buyers say that when they’re ready to buy, they’ll find you. 93% of these decision makers use search to begin the buying process. And it isn’t just low-level minions conducting searches at the behest of higher-ups; 63% of C-level executives say they first turn to mainstream search engines to locate information.
That makes optimization more important than ever, and leads to questions like: How can SEO be used in online reputation management? What common SEO mistakes are critical to avoid? How important are footer links to SEO? How can PDF content be optimized for search? How does the introduction of Google Instant change SEO tactics? What are the crucial tasks to include on site audit and pre-launch SEO checklists?
Find the answers to those questions and many more here in more than two dozen of the best guides to SEO tips, strategies, techniques and tactics of the past year.
SEO: A Comprehensive Guide for Beginners by KISS Metrics
Neil Patel provides an excellent and largely non-technical guide to SEO success, from keyword research and content development through meta tags, search-friendly URLs and link building.
For those without the time, inclination or webmaster jargon knowledge to read Google’s 32-page SEO Starter Guide, this blog post nets it out: choose the right keywords (based on your market knowledge, not so much what keyword tools tell you), optimize your site, pursue quality links, and unless you have such expertise internally—hire professional help.
SEO 101: Defining the long tail by Conversation Marketing
Ian Lurie lucidly explains the meaning of “long tail” in search with simple and compelling graphics showing that while individual “head” terms may get management salivating for top rank position, it’s the less sexy but more specific 3-word and longer queries that collectively generate more traffic and a much higher conversion rate.
What Is SEO, Really? by SEO Book
After providing an explanation of SEO, brief history of the discipline and recommendations on how to learn modern SEO techniques, Peter Da Vanzo concludes that SEO isn’t only about rankings—but it isn’t just about money either.
You WANT Rankings, But What Do You Really NEED? by Search Engine Guide
Frequent best-of contributor Stoney deGeyter elaborates on the “key components to a well-rounded optimization campaign,” including keyword research, website architecture, copywriting, on-page optimization, analytics and more.
Advanced SEO Tactics, Techniques and Considerations
The dangers of ranking No. 1 on Google by iMediaConnection
***** 5 Stars
Drew Hubbard quantifies both the value and risk of high rankings. On the value side, getting your site ranked #1 on both Google and Yahoo/Bing means you’ll attract (on average) 40% of ALL organic search clicks for that term. On the risk side, however, carefully choose which terms you really want to rank for. People search for different reasons. Ranking highly for an informational—rather than transactional—can end up drawing a ton of traffic to your site and putting a big load on your servers for no real business benefit. Ranking for high-conversion keywords is far more important (i.e. profitable) than just showing up well for high-traffic terms. Still, considering all of the worries that might keep an SEO pro up at night, this one is probably pretty low on the list.
How to optimize page Titles and improve click through rates by Web SEO Analytics
Vasilis Vryniotis runs through the basics of optimizing titles for search: make them brief, descriptive, attractive and branded, with the most important keywords up front.
25 tips to skyrocket your search engine rankings by Socialmedia.biz
Karan Singhal offers 25 tips that may not “skyrocket” your site’s rankings but should help, among them: understanding your target market and how they search, using internal linking with anchor text, utilizing keyword-rich URLs, and keeping your site’s content fresh.
12 Amazing SEO Infographics by HubSpot Blog
***** 5 Stars
Kipp Bodnar compiles an outstanding, highly bookmarkable set of SEO infographics suitable for printing out and posting in a highly visible location. Examples include the SEO Order of Operations (grab and include with the post?), SEO vs. PPC stats, and the ROI of SEO.
Search Marketing in a B2B World – PPC and SEO by SlideShare
Magnus Nilsson guides b2b marketers through search optimization in this online presentation, from recognizing the differences between how buyers search at home versus at the office, and how different types of business buyers search, to using analytics to measure what’s really important.
Do You Make Any of These 10 Simple SEO Mistakes? by KISS Metrics
Kristi Hines details 10 common SEO mistakes and how to correct them, such as focusing on link quantity over quality and not creating compelling, linkworthy content.
SEO Raises Awareness and Reputation Better than PPC by MarketingSherpa Blog
Adam T. Sutton reports on MarketingSherpa research showing that more marketers view SEO as “very effective” than PPC at increasing brand/product awareness (42% to 34%), improving brand/product reputation (29% to 19%) and improving PR (27% to 6%). For many if not most companies, PPC and SEO should both be part of the marketing mix; but it’s important to recognize their differing and often complementary strengths.
Noting that “The Internet can be a hostile place, with powerful companies paying handsome sums to hide negative content in Google search results…Unseen battles are waged every day to protect and destroy brands and reputations,” Peter O’Dowd demonstrates how companies and political figures are turning to content marketing and SEO to push negative mentions of them off the front page of search results.
The Problem with Footer Links in SEO by WordStream Internet Marketing Blog
Lior Levin writes that footer links generally don’t carry much weight with search engines: “Since the webmaster has heavily devalued the link, it only makes sense that the search engines would as well.” While footer links have valid purposes, important links should be placed more highly, and prominently, on the page.
We’ll Stop Screaming “Relevance” When You Start Listening by Search News Central
Gabriella Sannino demonstrates the centrality of relevance to search results by stepping through the process of optimizing a single page, from keyword targeting and meta tags to content development and link-building through guest posts or bylined articles.
The Art and Science of SEO Site Audits [Best of SEW 2010 #10] by Search Engine Watch
***** 5 Stars
Adam Audette outlines an extensive checklist and process for performing SEO site audits, including on-page and off-page factors, reporting, and audit tools.
Twitter & Facebook links affect SEO on Google and Bing by Web SEO Analytics
Another noteworthy post from Vasilis Vryniotis, this one detailing how search engine are using social signals to impact rankings and what type of information the search engines attempt to glean from links in social media.
Fundamentals of PDF Optimisation for Search by Bruce Clay
Explaining that “Properties to a PDF are what meta tags are to a web page,” Aaron Egan demonstrates how to use text, properties, tags and navigation to make PDF documents as search-friendly as possible.
The SEOmoz Internal SEO Pre-Launch Checklist by The Daily SEO Blog
Aaron Wheeler outlines critical (e.g., title tag, URL structure, image alt tags) and “worth double-checking” (robots.txt file, H1 tags, images optimized) SEO tasks to complete prior to launch. Danny Dover elaborates on this SEO “cheat sheet” in the accompanying video.
Google Instant and SEO
Google Instant: Fewer Changes to SEO than the Average Algo Update by The Daily SEO Blog
Rand Fishkin pulls data from a variety of sources to show that the introduction of Google Instant had only subtle impacts on search behavior.
6 Ways to Ensure Better Rankings in Google Instant by Search Engine Journal
Kristi Hines here offers a half-dozen tips for ranking better in Google Instant, though most are just good solid SEO practice regardless, such as thinking like searchers, keeping your online reputation clean and producing content in a variety of formats—not just text.
Google: Complexity is Good! by SEO Book
***** 5 Stars
Aaron Wall posts an entertaining and informative rant on how the increasing complexity of Google search (incorporating personalization, social signals, video results, Google Instant, etc.) has also led to a proliferation of bugs. A quote that every SEO should print out in a large font and tape up on his or her wall: “Sometimes you don’t rank because you screwed up. But sometimes you don’t rank because Google screwed up.”
SEO Planning for 2011 by Search Engine Watch
Eric Enge reviews some of the most impactful changes for search optimization in 2010 (e.g., May Day, Caffeine, Instant) and identifies four key factors SEO practitioners will need to focus on for search success in 2011.
SEO for Bing
SEO Tips for Bing by MarketingProfs
With Bing now accounting for roughly 30% of organic search in the U.S., John Pring provides timely advice on how to optimize for this search engine and differences from Google; while backlinks, pagerank and fresh content matter less to Bing, many of the same factors (keyword research and density, an XML sitemap) apply.
SEO for Bing: Don’t Ignore It by Search Engine Watch
Stating that “Google is absolutely watching Bing’s every move, and search marketers should be doing the same thing,” Adam Audette predicts that Bing’s market share will grow and provides several general (e.g., clean code, quality content) and specific (use XML sitemaps and keep them up to date) tips on optimizing for the #2 search engine.
Google Webmaster Tools and SEO
Beginner’s Guide to Google Webmaster Tools by KISS Metrics
Neil Patel (again) provides an outstanding primer on the functions and use of Google Webmaster Tools, from adding your site and uploading an XML site map through sitelinks, settings, identifying your best external links and keywords, and much more.
Google Webmaster Tools 101 by ClickZ
Ron Jones explains how to use Google Webmaster Tools to diagnose SEO problems and make improvements in different areas (HTML, internal links, keywords) to optimize overall website performance.
To keep up with changes on the SEO landscape and make sure I’m consistently utilizing the most effective techniques on behalf of clients, I read a lot of articles and blog posts about SEO. Most still focus on the same basic areas:
- • Keyword research
- • On-page optimization (content, headings, meta tags)
- • Links (external and internal)
And to be fair, even with all of the changes in search over the past year, those basics remain vitally important to search success. But here are three areas where many companies aren’t realizing the synergistic benefits of coordination with their SEO efforts:
Blogging: given that less than half of companies—both small businesses and the Fortune 500—actively maintain industry blogs, this is an underutilized area for SEO benefit. While there are several benefits of business blogging beyond SEO, the ability of a blog to enhance an organization’s presence in search is substantial. Blogs are a source of fresh content, which search engines love. It’s easier to incorporate new keyword groups, naturally, in a blog post or series of posts than it is to rewrite sections of a corporate website. And blog content is more likely to attract natural links from other sites than is standard marketing copy, as it’s inherently more interesting.
Public Relations (PR): trying to manually build links from high-quality sites is difficult, tedious and time-consuming. But a well-written and optimized press release can generate dozens or even hundreds of links from quality news sites and blogs overnight. First, make sure the press release itself it well-optimized (e.g. keywords used in the title and early in the body copy). Then include text links back to specific pages on your website, e.g. linking a term like records management software back to an informational page devoted to that topic. Finally, use online press release distribution sites to spread your news far and wide.
Social Media: while social media adoption is rapidly increasing, these efforts aren’t always coordinated with SEO or appreciated in terms of search benefits. If a company has a quality Twitter following, its Twitter account is likely to appear in the top five results in branded searches. Links from social bookmarking sites can improve the rank of content-rich pages buried in your site’s navigational structure. The major search engines are increasing incorporating social signals into their search results. And it’s important to recognize that not all search happens on search engines any more; it’s also important to optimize for search within social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn.
By getting different teams working together and integrating these efforts with SEO, enterprises can maximize both the direct effects of strong PR and social media activities as well as increasing their visibility to buyers through search.