Thursday, November 1, 2012

SEO :10 Essential Things You Need to Know

(1) Good Content: 
Shoot for having good solid content on your site.  You’ve probably read this 100 times before, but that doesn’t make it any less important.  You see, the search engines need content to index, and content is also key to attracting visitors, encouraging them to share your pages on social sites, and encouraging them to link to your Web pages. Too many sites try to shortcut the process with thin content, or simply underestimate the time and effort it takes to create quality content.  They are missing out on an opportunity to differentiate their websites, engage visitors and improve search position.  Make sure you have a great “About” page, with your company’s story and team bios.  Create interesting videos showing the use of your products, testimonials from satisfied customers, and/or a quick tour of your headquarters.

(2) One Domain Name:
Some small businesses and entrepreneurs make the mistake of creating multiple separate websites for projects, events, initiatives, interests, etc.  That isn’t the way to go.  You’re better off creating a separate, dedicated section on your site for the content to appear on, but still “under one roof.”  That’s because it’s easier to build brand recognition and authority for one domain, than for multiple domains

(3) Text in Conjunction with Images, Videos and Audio:
If your homepage consists of a large photo and an “Enter Here” button or a video, the search engines have no text (content) to identify with.  To the engines, this is a blank page.  Make sure all of your site pages include text on them.  Add text beneath the image.  For videos, consider adding a transcript of the video on the same page, below the video player.  Same goes with audio.

(4) Links Pointing to Many Different Pages in Your Site: 
You’ve probably heard it said that links are like votes for a Web page, in the eyes of search engines.  The more votes (links to your pages) the better.  Notice I said pages, not site.  Too many bloggers and small businesses make the mistake of seeking links just to the home page.  But your homepage may not be the most relevant place for all visitors.  If visitors are looking for something specific, why not point them directly to where they can find what they want, instead of letting them wander around aimlessly.

(5) Keywords: 
Keywords or key phrases are the words and/or phrases that a visitor searches on in search engines.  Use such words or phrases in your website to increase the chances that people will find your site when searching for same in a search engine.  Also use keywords when placing pay-per-click ads, to get your ads to show up when someone searches for such keywords. Put yourself in the shoes of your customers or audience.  Focus on the words and/or phrases they are likely to use, not industry lingo that your team uses internally.  If you’re not sure which keywords to target, start by inputting your industry keywords and/or phrases into Google’s Keyword Tool.  Don’t just look for popular keywords; look for ones with lesser competition, as it is typically easier to rank for those keywords and cheaper to buy ads for them.

(6) Links to Other Sites: 
If another site has created a legitimate link to your site or blog, it’s perfectly acceptable to link back to that site.  But be careful.  Those emails that everyone receives “Link to us and we’ll link to you” – steer clear of those.  That type of “reciprocal linking” mostly is not useful – the sites wanting links are usually low quality sites with little traffic.  The subject of the sites is often completely unrelated to your business, so any traffic they drive is nontargeted or worthless. And in the future you may wake up to discover they have redirected the page you’ve linked to, to some undesirable page you don’t want to be associated with.  Not to mention… engaging in reciprocal linking schemes or “circles” could get you into trouble with Google.

(7) Using Keywords In Article Titles/Page URLs: 
This can really give your site a boost.  Make sure when you’re crafting titles for blog posts, for example, that you have keywords in mind.  I know that sometimes it’s much more tempting to create a headline that’s “catchy.”  But the catchy headline may not reap rewards in the search engines if the article’s title words are meaningless to a relative search.  Here’s an example:  “Hot New Offers!” versus “Embossed Leather Belts.”  A URL that reads “Hot New Offers” will not yield you the results that “Embossed Leather Belts” will.  Why?  Because there’s nothing relating to belts in your URL or title for Google to identify you with and cause them to display you in the search engine results.  On the other hand, using “Embossed Leather Belts” will work for you in several different ways.  “Embossed belts” and “leather belts” and “embossed leather” are keywords that will now all be working for you if contained in the article’s title and page URL.

(8) Three Targeted Keywords Per Page:  When creating content for your site, don’t just think of creating a long list of keywords and scattering them willy-nilly throughout your site, or repeating the same keywords on every page.  Instead, associate individual pages in your site, each with a shortlist of specific keywords.  A consensus among some SEO experts is that 3 targeted keywords per page yields a good result.  So, choose your keywords and/or keyword phrases wisely and intersperse them naturally through your text so that the content reads well – but no more than 3 keywords per page.

(9) Avoid Black Hat SEO Tactics: 
Google considers certain tactics to be “black hat” tactics and they will quickly penalize you for them.  Let’s say you would like your site to rank highly for the search phrase “document storage.”  So you put the phrase “document storage” 50 times on a page. And you put the words in white font against a white background so that your visitors to the page do not see them.  But guess what?  The search engines will see that repetition of the keywords and recognize that you are trying to not only game the results by “stuffing” keywords, but hide it, too.

(10) Education, education, education: 
The better educated small business owners and Internet marketing managers are, the better equipped we are to position our sites to achieve real business results. That means you and/or your staff, are going to have to invest some time, money and effort into learning enough about SEO to find your way around.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Street Ghosts Artist Paolo Cirio Speaks Up About Going Against Google (PHOTOS)

Specifically, Cirio's beef is with Google Street View, the web giant's mammoth project providing 360-degree street-level viewings of the world's cities. He sees a conspiracy in it, or at the very least, a win of profit motive over principle.
"It's interesting to me how a company can takes pictures of the all world's streets and sell them back to people, assembling basically an huge repository of the world and monopolizing it. We all know that knowledge means power," Cirio says of Street View, in emails to the Huffington Post (Google Street View is free to use, but that hasn't stopped Cirio's crusade).
To draw attention to Street View's problems, Cirio's turning what he considers the most problematic aspect of the project, the permission-less photographing of people, into art. To do this, he's taping pasteboard images of people who appear on Google Street View on walls in Berlin, London, New York, and more cities, if he can help it. He says fellow artists and viewers have already contacted him and asked if they can put up images inspired by Cirio's Street Ghosts project in Hong Kong and Sydney.
Wrote Cirio to the Huffington Post, "I'm going to ship posters ready to affix on walls to everyone who asks me, in order to spread them everywhere."
A former street artist turned digital, this is Cirio's first piece that combines the two contexts -- so it's no coincidence that many of his photos show up next to old, elaborate lines of graffiti (Cirio says he looks for walls where the posters "can stay as long as possible"). We at Huffington Post exchanged emails with Cirio, who since 2002 has been traveling the world redistributing books found on Amazon and promoting a project that encourages peer-to-peer money-sharing using mock-VISA cards.

Bing - Webmaster Center blog

SEO has a future - just be ready to learn

We were at SMX East today, speaking on a panel with some really smart minds on the future of SEO.  In that discussion, many ideas where brought forward.  Let's take a look at a few of them here.

Learning new things is nothing, er…new, to SEOs.  It’s a fact of life for any SEO.  But have you started to dig into the areas that are going to matter?  Have you started working on things today, to set yourself up for success in the future?
Responsive design
With the advent of tablets and smart devices, it’s critical you understand how your site appears across those experiences.  It’s also important to set up your company to succeed long-term.  Responsive design can help your site appear as expected across devices, which means a cohesive user experience.  This can make or break how users think of your site and how they interact with your content.  That can further impact how they share you socially and whether they recommend you to others.
Today, many sites sense if the visitor is on a mobile device and pivot to the m. version of the site.  Trouble is, many of those experiences sacrifice showing some content for a sleeker design.  This can kill your credibility with visitors.
On the technical side, it can lead to duplicate URL issues over time, so you want to make sure you account for this when it comes time to redesign your site.  We’ve talked about moving to responsive design before.
This represents a chance to inform crawlers about your content in a structured manner.  It’s great for calling out specific things (the list is broad) to ensure that we, the engines, understand what the object is and what it’s related to.
Marking up your content not only helps us understand the content better, but it also helps you in the SERPs.  As rich features become more commonplace in the search results, it’s this marked up content that will be included.  Recipes are a great example of this.  By including items like ratings on a recipe, or fat and calorie counts, the result is a much richer experience for searchers, and depending on what they want (a lot fat recipe), the results are much more relevant.
This does take work to implement, so start planning now to integrate this in your next redesign.  A good starting point is, but the reality is any language is acceptable and we can work with all of them.  No need to retrofit if you’ve already started down this path.
User Experience & Social
If you haven’t invested in usability testing, it’s worth it.  Usability testing can be eye opening.  It can help you see your site, content, navigational structure, etc. in an entirely new light.  At the very least it’ll get you out of your head and into the heads of the people who interact with your site every day: your visitors and customers.  It’s almost guaranteed that as you watch people go through the testing on your site, you’ll be surprised by how they interact with the site.
Simple things like words used in your navigation labeling can have a big impact in perception and click actions on your site.  Colors, sizes of buttons, etc. can all have an impact.  And this impact extends from how they interact with the site through how they think about the site.  That perception can shape a visitor’s actions socially, which can impact search for you.
There’s a lot to be considered as we move from the present into the future.  SEO as we used to know it will continue to encompass new areas of focus.  If you think there are other items to add to this list, post ‘em up below!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Google’s August & September Updates

Google’s August & September Updates: Panda, Knowledge Graph, Page Quality & SafeSearch

Google has announced details on the search algorithm and quality changes made over the past two months – August and September. In total, Google lists 65 changes over the past two months.
The previous announcement covered two months as well, and was for June and July.
This time the key changes include Panda updates, improved knowledge graph, page quality and ranking changes, snippet changes, freshness updates and SafeSearch changes. Here is the list of some of the changes categorized by topic:

Web Ranking & Indexing

  • LTS. [project “Other Ranking Components”] We improved our web ranking to determine what pages are relevant for queries containing locations.
  • #82279. [project “Other Ranking Components”] We changed to fewer results for some queries to show the most relevant results as quickly as possible.
  • #83709. [project “Other Ranking Components”] This change was a minor bug fix related to the way links are used in ranking.
  • #82546. [project “Indexing”] We made back-end improvements to video indexing to improve the efficiency of our systems.
  • #84010. [project “Page Quality”] We refreshed data for the “Panda” high-quality sites algorithm.
  • #83777. [project “Synonyms”] This change made improvements to rely on fewer “low-confidence” synonyms when the user’s original query has good results.
  • #84586. [project “Other Ranking Components”] This change improved how we rank documents for queries with location terms.

Page Quality & Scoring

  • #82862. [project “Page Quality”] This launch helped you find more high-quality content from trusted sources.
  • #83135. [project “Query Understanding”] This change updated term-proximity scoring.
  • Imadex. [project “Freshness”] This change updated handling of stale content and applies a more granular function based on document age.
  • #83689. [project “Page Quality”] This launch helped you find more high-quality content from trusted sources.
  • #84394. [project “Page Quality”] This launch helped you find more high-quality content from trusted sources.
  • #83761. [project “Freshness”] This change helped you find the latest content from a given site when two or more documents from the same domain are relevant for a given search query.

Sitelinks & Snippets & UI

  • #83105. [project “Snippets”] We refreshed data used to generate sitelinks.
  • #83442. [project “Snippets”] This change improved a signal we use to determine how relevant a possible result title actually is for the page.
  • #83443. [project “Knowledge Graph”] We added a lists and collections component to the Knowledge Graph.
  • #83012. [project “Knowledge Graph] The Knowledge Graph displays factual information and refinements related to many types of searches. This launch extended the Knowledge Graph to English-speaking locales beyond the U.S.
  • #83304. [project “Knowledge Graph”] This change updated signals that determine when to show summaries of topics in the right-hand panel.
  • Knowledge Graph Carousel. [project “Knowledge Graph”] This change expanded the Knowledge Graph carousel feature globally in English.
  • #82407. [project “Other Search Features”] For pages that we do not crawl because of robots.txt, we are usually unable to generate a snippet for users to preview what’s on the page. This change added a replacement snippet that explains that there’s no description available because of robots.txt.
  • #83670. [project “Snippets”] We made improvements to surface fewer generic phrases like “comments on” and “logo” in search result titles.
  • #84652. [project “Snippets”] We currently generate titles for PDFs (and other non-html docs) when converting the documents to HTML. These auto-generated titles are usually good, but this change made them better by looking at other signals.
  • #84211. [project “Snippets”] This launch led to better snippet titles.

Image Search

  • Maru. [project “SafeSearch”] We updated SafeSearch to improve the handling of adult video content in videos mode for queries that are not looking for adult content.
  • Palace. [project “SafeSearch”] This change decreased the amount of adult content that will show up in Image Search mode when SafeSearch is set to strict.
  • #82872. [project “SafeSearch”] In “strict” SafeSearch mode we remove results if they are not very relevant. This change previously launched in English, and this change expanded it internationally.
  • Sea. [project “SafeSearch”] This change helped prevent adult content from appearing when SafeSearch is in “strict” mode.
  • Cobra. [project “SafeSearch”] We updated SafeSearch algorithms to better detect adult content.
  • #84460. [project “Snippets”] This change helped to better identify important phrases on a given webpage.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


It’s been almost a month since Bing launched its Bing It On campaign — a sort of taste-test challenge comparing Bing’s and Google’s organic search results.
And now, after an independent survey of about 4,700 people who took the challenge, Bing is touting how it’s changing the attitudes of many testers:
We asked for people’s impressions of Bing before taking the Challenge and then after they completed it. What we found was 64% of people were surprised by the quality of Bing’s web search results. Over half of the people surveyed indicated their impression of Bing improved after seeing Bing’s web search results next to Google’s. Additionally, of people who identified Google as their primary search engine, 33% said they would use Bing more often after taking the Challenge and 17% who found Bing more favorable after taking the side-by-side comparison said it revealed flaws in Google’s results.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

RSS Feed Example

As RSS files are essentially XML formatted plain text, the RSS file itself is relatively easily read both by automated processes and by humans alike. An example file could have contents such as the following. This could be placed on any appropriate communication protocol for file retrieval, such as http or ftp, and reading software would use the information to present a neat display to the end user.

Highlights 8 Local SEO Best Practices

Yelp SEO Campaign Highlights 8 Local SEO Best Practices Are you missing an opportunity to fully understand and take advantage of the impact of local on search engine rankings? A new whitepaper from BrightEdge shares insights into how optimizes for local and highlights best practices for marketers. Yelp is a local review site with more than 30 million user-generated reviews and active communities in 15 different countries. Their reviews range over a number of verticals, including restaurants, retail, hotels and travel, real estate, education, and more. In the second quarter of 2012, they averaged 78 million unique visitors per month. Yelp’s Local Challenges Universal for Marketers Optimizing pages for different locations isn’t easy; the challenge begins when marketers try to get an accurate snapshot of their visibility across multiple locations. SEO technology may deliver keyword ranking data at the national level, or marketers may try to qualify search terms by using the name of specific cities in their queries. These methods don’t tell the whole story, though. BrightEdge notes, “When we compared Google results page for the search term 'burgers new york' to the page people who are actually in New York see when searching with the term “burgers” we found stark differences in rank performance.” Yelp’s challenges are unique given the sheer size of their website, the volume of reviews and other pages they have to optimize, and the fact that they rely on ranking locally by their very nature. Local Search Tips Based on Yelp’s SEO campaign, BrightEdge gleaned the following local search marketing best practices: Use software that allows you to monitor rankings across multiple locations and compare local and national results. You can try to work around this visibility problem on your own, but it’s time consuming, inaccurate, and not scalable. Identify gaps and prioritize opportunities to improve your SEO across locations. Focus on cities with lower performance and identify keyword opportunities to maximize your efforts. Identify and correct landing page misalignments. These are situations where the highest ranking page in one location is targeting another location, which can be frustrating to users who click through to information that doesn’t match their needs. Understand how origin locations (where in the world people are searching from) affect the SEO performance of your popular pages. Once you understand where your pages show up locally, drill down into off and on-page SEO factors in each location to optimize for that geo. Register local businesses with search engines; fill out the online form for that engine and complete the confirmation by mail. Use online local communities like Yelp and Google+ to claim your business listing. Go deeper, into smaller local portals and community sites. Wherever possible, add photos, business hours, and other information to fill out the profile. Create local-specific landing pages to optimize for searchers in that location or searching with that location name in their query. BrightEdge recommends that “each page should be tailored with content that is specific to that location and that content should be compelling and refreshed regularly.” Local and mobile advertising is projected to reach $24 billion in 2016. Clearly, the opportunity is huge for those who are able to overcome the challenges and discover areas of weakness to improve upon. “Increasingly we are hearing that our customers need more robust and scalable local search insights,” said Jim Yu, CEO of BrightEdge. “We are thrilled to be able to work with Yelp, a leader in local services for both consumers and business, to share insights about best practices for local search.”

How to Create a Content Calendar to Correlate SEO Results

The problem we have as search engine optimizers in the current landscape is that our jobs are still about improving results. Our task is to incrementally increase the traffic and revenue through our clients’ website(s) – and yet, this is becoming almost impossible to actually track and measure. How much of that (not set) traffic is generic, brought about because of excellent content-led campaigns, for example? From a retailer’s point of view in particular, how do you track what product pages have really improved as a result of improving their usefulness to users when a large part of the long-tail traffic is completely invisible? Of course, large trends will always be visible and of course, I am over-stating the problem as it stands at the moment for most websites. But all of the issues above mean that it is much more difficult for SEOs to show a direct correlation between their work and improved results. I don’t know how many in the industry have been in situations where a client is shown great SEO results, turns around, and says, “Yeah, but we changed the website so that probably caused most of the uplifts.” Trust me, it’s difficult to take. There have been cases where the client has no tracking on their website since the “new” (re-skinned) website had gone live, resulting in little data to prove the effects of our SEO work. As painful as this is, I now see it potentially happening across the whole industry and want to share one way you can try to guard against these problems. You need to show the value of SEO while also presenting the correlation between SEO activity and results. One method of ensuring you are creating content that is relevant but also interesting is to play word games like the following:
By building the article titles into a content calendar, you can start to track the direct impact of your activity in the form of traffic uplifts across non-brand terms and ranking improvements for target keywords. You can also use the themes to help you identify bloggers/influencers that might want to engage with your content or add their own opinions. As a quick example, using advanced search operators with the above techniques means you can start to expand from a narrow product focus into a more rounded, but still relevant online content campaign and find a much broader range of sites to work with. The best way to start on your own content calendar is using Excel. This allows you to plan a number of different content ‘strings’ while still keeping on top of frequency. The illustration above is easily replicated in Excel and it allows for multiple keyword themes; a lot more than illustrated above. Indeed, if you color code the themes, you can even plan your placements on each row, with dates of publishing across the top, and theme of content using the colour coding. The key to this is not to try and create extra content for no good reason. The goal is to make sure that you’re creating opportunities for engagement from your target market, and ensuring your brand’s voice is out there being heard. There is no one-singular solution to effectively tracking and measuring all traffic. However, every client that has implemented this type of engagement or content outreach has seen significant uplifts in traffic to the site, both via the content hub itself (usually a blog on a sub-folder or sub-domain) but also from the main site. Nothing happens in isolation, but the strong assertion is that this activity is increasing the authority of the domain and therefore, helping it to rank higher and for more keywords.