Google’s Matt Cutts, head of the web spam team, posted a YouTube video about upcoming algorithm changes. This is something Google rarely does, but Matt thought it was important he posted on Twitter that “Pretty much every SEO should watch this video:”
I’m going to post the video for you to watch, but before I do, here’s a summary of what you’ll hear:
There will be a major Penguin update
Google will address advertorial spam
Spammy queries will be looked at
He doesn’t say what, specifically, Google will do in this regard, but Matt does say they plan to “go upstream” to address link spam
More sophisticated link analysis (Matt seems really excited about this one even though his language is tentative)
Improvements on how Google handles hacked websites
Algorithm tweaks to boost “authority” as a ranking factor
Google will attempt to soften the blow of Panda for sites in the “gray area”
This one actually makes a lot of sense and it’s surprising Google didn’t think of it sooner, but they will diminish the number of times a domain cluster appears in the SERPs for the same domain, addressing specifically subsequent SERP pages
Improvements to webmaster communication
Much of this has to do with addressing blackhat SEO techniques, so most of us don’t have anything to worry about. The changes that will affect us whitehat guys are mostly positive. Should we be worried, or do you see any of this as good for webmasters?
Every once in a while someone jumps up and asks the question, “Are Bing and Yahoo! still relevant?” The short answer is, yes, of course they are still relevant. The long answer is a little more involved, but it goes something like this.
Google enjoys a huge share of the search market. More than 60%. The rest is divided among Bing, Yahoo!, and the various search engines below that (Ask, Mahalo, and even YouTube). While it’s important to make sure your website meets Google’s guidelines so you can rank your website well in its index, it’s equally important to ensure that you diversify your traffic sources.
Those of you who have been around for five years or more may remember MySpace. At one time, it was the No. 1 social network. Now, hardly anyone thinks about it.
Why is MySpace important? Because it should serve as a lesson. Obscurity is just one competitor away no matter who you are – even Google.
Google may be top dog in search today, but that doesn’t mean that Web users won’t find something to replace them next year. It could be Facebook or it could be something else. If you rely entirely on Google and Google starts sending you less traffic (even if they don’t fade into obscurity), then your business is shot. Traffic diversity is one of the most important things for anyone running a business online.
On-site SEO is every bit as important as off-site SEO. In fact, I’d say it’s more important. If you can’t get your on-site SEO right, then it won’t matter how good you are at off-site SEO. Here are three on-site SEO tricks that don’t get talked about much.
404 pages – There are all sorts of error pages, but the 404 error page can be the most frustrating for users – especially if yours isn’t optimized well. Don’t settle for the generic 404 page. Customize your page with your company’s logo and some helpful information to assist your visitors in finding the right web page. To do that well, include some link suggestions and encourage your visitors to keep trying.
Site speed – Search engines love fast-loading websites. They don’t like slow-loading websites. Therefore, you should do everything you can to increase your website’s load speed. Often, sites load slowly due to an overwhelming number of huge graphic or video files, server issues, or clunky CMS systems.
Rich snippets – Rich snippets are a good way to provide extra information about your page to help your site visitors find the information they are looking for. They won’t necessarily help your site rank better, but if visitors can’t find what they are looking for, then it won’t matter.
Google Trends has introduced a new way to conduct keyword research. There are plenty of ways to use Google Trends to uncover the best keywords to target for your marketing campaigns. Today I’m going to highlight 6 basic ways to use Google Trends.
Channel Search – With Google Trends you can research key phrases and how they have fared over time in the following channels: Web Search, Image Search, News Search, Product Search, and YouTube Search.
Geographic Search – You can search the trends for your keywords worldwide or narrow your search to specific countries.
Specific Period Of Time – Data on Google Trends goes all the way back to 2004. You can perform keyword-based research back to that time from the present or choose a time period any time in between. For instance, you could research your keyword from 2006-2010. Or from 2010-present. It’s very flexible.
By Category – Google Trends allows you to research your keywords by category. For instance, if you are researching the keyword “timing chain,” then you could limit your search to the Autos & Vehicles category. There are 25 categories to choose from, and each of those have subcategories.
Related Terms – If you are researching a particular keyword phrase, Google Trends will recommend related keywords. You can also track those searches by the same methods above.
Rising Trends – One of the most powerful keyword research tools on Google Trends is the Rising Trends tool. Just click the Rising tab and you’ll see the keywords that are rising in the search results right now.
Each of these tools can be used for a single keyword research or you can use them in comparison searches where you compare the trends of two or more keywords you are targeting.
SEO is in a constant state of change. Very little we do today bears any resemblance to how SEO was performed 10 or 15 years ago. And it’s likely that SEO will be quite different 20 years from now. Here are three outdated SEO ideas that still get shared in social circles even though they are completely WRONG.
META Tags Are Extremely Important – No they’re not. Neither Bing nor Google even look at your keywords meta tag. They completely ignore it. Your SEO Title tag is usually redundant. It is only slightly useful. The most important meta tag is the meta description tag and, technically, you can do without it. It’s useful to the degree that you write a good one and that Google or Bing uses it in the search snippet in user search results – which doesn’t happen every time.
Search Engine Submissions Are Necessary – Absolutely not. I still see web companies offering search engine submission services. The truth is, the search engines have spiders that crawl the web. If you have one inbound link to your website, it will be found and indexed by the search engines. Submission is not necessary.
Exact Match Domain Names Rank Better – Just a cursory look at the web will tell you otherwise. Many branded non-keyword-matching domain names rank No. 1 for specific keyword searches. None of the search engines have “search engine” in their domain name. Yahoo! is a branded name. Bing is a branded name. Google is a branded name. YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest are all branded names. Enough said.
Are you listening to outdated ideas? Stop listening to the people selling you bad SEO advice. Listen to the folks who are moving with the times.
The reason clients outsource their search engine optimization is because they don’t have the time to commit to it or they don’t have the expertise necessary to create a successful SEO campaign. Both of those are understandable. However, you still need to be involved.
Some clients have the attitude that the SEO professional will take care of all of the details. Maybe they will, maybe they won’t. But the reality is, it’s your business. No SEO in the world is going to be an expert in every niche every one of their clients is a part of. You still need to be involved in the SEO process.
Here are 4 ways that clients often sabotage their own SEO campaigns.
The client isn’t committed to the campaign – This typically happens in large organizations where a marketing professional hires an outside SEO firm but upper management, who have no knowledge or experience with SEO and don’t want it, have not been sold on the idea. This usually leads to infighting. This can often be a distraction to your SEO firm. Make sure everyone on your team is sold out to your SEO campaign before you start it.
The client is not involved in the process - Don’t just hand over your SEO to your consultant and forget about it. Your input is necessary for keyword selection and strategy implementation.
The client doesn’t keep up their end of the bargain – Whether it comes to paying for services or conducting experiments, testing, or research, if you tell your SEO consulting firm that you will do something, then you should do it. After all, you’d expect the same from them.
The client doesn’t implement changes fast enough – If you agree to perform some of the tasks related to your SEO, then be sure to do it. Your SEO firm may be relying on you to complete certain tasks before they can do their jobs. If you don’t implement the necessary changes when you say you will or install particular software on time, then you could be hurting your own marketing efforts.
SEO is getting more and more technical and difficult to implement, not to mention costly. Don’t sabotage your company’s SEO efforts with any of these mistakes.
Link diversity is an important SEO concept that is still misunderstood in a lot of ways. What it involves is how Google (and Bing) count your inbound links. It’s not enough to have those links. You must work hard to make your link graph look natural, and link diversity is the way to do that.
Here are 5 ways that link diversity is important:
Link sources – Google looks at how many links you have, but that’s of secondary importance. The search engines are also concerned with how many domains you get your links from. Instead of going after 10,000 links from one domain, try to get links from as many domains as possible. Spread your inbound links out from around the Web.
Anchor text – Don’t make your link anchor text all the same. Vary your anchor text and use many different keyword and non-keyword variations.
Domain age – Links from older domains are more valuable than links from newer sites, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get links from newer sites. You should. Eventually, those sites will have age going in their favor too.
Type of link – Text links are the best links, but image links provide value too. Get links from a variety of media, including videos, infographics, and whatever else is available.
Niche variation – You’ve likely heard that links from websites in the same niche have higher value. That’s true. Still, you can get links from outside your niche if the content is appropriate. For instance, if you serve the automotive market and you leave a blog comment on a blog that is about music technology because a particular blog post was about car radios, that would be appropriate – and perfectly OK.
Link diversity is one of the most important concepts in link building. Pay careful attention to all of these factors.
Mike Blumenthal recently experienced a face brownout with Google. Ouch! How painful.
Don’t worry. Even though it could happen to you, it’s only virtually painful. No physical pain.
What happened is, Google didn’t like his author photo. So he changed it.
The thing that strikes me about this is, Google is able to identify an author by their photo, which is pretty amazing. And another thing, Google arbitrarily decides it doesn’t like certain photos and that becomes your problem. Welcome to the world of Google.
If you find your photo not showing up in Google search results alongside your articles, especially when it did before, then do as Mike Blumenthal did and change your photo. If that new photo starts showing up in search results, then you know the problem was the photo. If it doesn’t, then it’s a problem you can’t fix, evidently.
Here’s a little advice about author photos. When possible, use full face photos. I think Google likes those better.
At any rate, don’t use photos where your image is obscured or where only half of your face shows (I know, Seth Godin does it – but, he’s been doing it for forever and a day).
You want to make it easy for Google to associate your name with your image. That’s the main thing. And there’s even a fancy name it – FaceRank.
Chances are, if you’ve been online for any period of time and have been reading SEO blogs, then you’ve probably heard that press releases are a great way to build links back to your website and garner a little SEO from them. Exercise caution. This could be bad advice.
Think about it. Google slapped article directories hard with its Panda update. They essentially killed some of the top article directories on the web. Some of them managed to bounce back.
Press release distribution websites are just like article directories. They are directories for press releases.
While I believe press releases are important tools for getting publicity for your business, I think you’re better off developing a list of media that you send your press releases to directly. You can upload your press releases to press release distribution websites in addition to your own media and PR list. However, don’t expect much.
Those press release distribution websites have become saturated with overly optimized press releases that do little to inform journalists about anything.
You may find a few journalists in any industry that scour these sites for news stories, but my bet is that most of them rely on press releases sent directly to them. Inbound links from press releases might help a little, but I wouldn’t use them as a primary SEO tactic.
There’s a good chance you’ve seen “(not provided)” somewhere in your analytics. If you have, then you know it’s associated with your targeted keyword. Google, somewhere along the line, decided to fight keyword spam in its indexes by not providing the metrics that search marketers use to create it. That’s a win for Google.
But a win for Google doesn’t necessarily mean a loss for you. It just means you need to get a little more creative in your analysis.
While Google has closed off a lot of information that you can ascertain from your keyword metrics, one thing they did not close off was metrics associated with your landing pages. Most search marketers associated their landing pages with one or two keywords. If you can measure how much traffic you’ve gained for your landing pages, then you can unwittingly measure how much you’ve gained for the associated keywords.
Granted, it’s a little crafty, but it’s a necessary level of analytical craftiness in this post-Panda world.
Let’s break it down:
You have landing pages A, B, and C
Landing page A is optimized for keyword 1
Landing page B is optimized for keywords 2 and 3
Landing page C is optimized for keywords 1 and 4
If your analytics tells you that you got 10,000 unique visits for landing page A, 15,000 unique visitors for landing page B, and 25,000 unique visits for landing page C, then your math problem is: How do these numbers translate into metrics for the associated keywords?
Well, you know you got at least 10,000 UVs for keyword 1. But there’s an X factor. Landing page C also uses keyword 1 and got 25,000 UVs. You can figure this out in one of two ways:
You can split the UV down the middle for your keywords, giving 12,500 of them to keyword 1
Or you can look at your last known traffic numbers for the associated keywords and split the metric according to that percentage. For example, if your last known traffic measurement for keyword 1 was 15,000 and your last known traffic measurement for keyword 4 was 3,000, then the numbers represent a 5:1 ratio toward keyword 1. What that means is you’ll take your 25,000 UV and divide it by 5. Give 5,000 UV to keyword 4 and the rest to keyword 1.
Doing it this way will yield a 22,500 UV metric for keyword 1 under the first scenario and a 30,000 UV metric for keyword 1 under the second scenario. Is it perfect? No. But it can give you a sense of your relative traffic for each keyword, and it can give you a much better picture than simply blind guessing.
SEO services can be either useless or powerful. Some services that used to be very good services are now no longer worth spending a dime on. One of those is search engine submission services.
I still see companies offering this service on their website and, quite frankly, I’m perplexed. It makes me scratch my head to think there are people who buy these services, but I’m sure some people do or the SEO companies offering them wouldn’t have them in their inventory. So why am I against search engine submission services?
For one thing, there are really only two search engines left you should even bother worrying about. And both of them are capable of finding your website on their own.
All you have to do to ensure Google and Bing crawl your website and index it is to create a few inbound links and to submit a sitemap. You can build the necessary inbound links (it only takes one) by sharing a few pages on social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+. Another thing you can do is write a few guest blog posts for websites in your niche.
As long as you build a few inbound links to your website, you don’t need submit to search engine services. But you should add a sitemap to your websites.
A sitemap will give the search engines a directory of pages on your site and make it easier to crawl. Don’t both with search engine submission services.
If you submit press releases for online distribution, you want them to be effective. An effective press release contains at least six elements. These include:
Headline – Just like a news story has a headline, your press release must have a headline. Your headline should grab your reader’s attention, state succinctly what the story is all about, and be well optimized for search.
Lead paragraph – The lead paragraph should contain the bare essentials of your news story: Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How.
Body content – If you want your press release to be effective, it should be structured the same way a journalist would structure a news story. That’s typically an inverted pyramid structure where the most important information is near the top and you work through to the least important information at the bottom.
Quote – Don’t ever send out a press release without at least one quote. The quote should come from a credible source, be realistic-sounding, and offer something new or interesting the rest of the press release content doesn’t cover.
Contact information – Your contact information and your public relations team’s contact information should be on your press release.
Search engine optimization – The only difference between a traditional press release and an online press release is that your online press release must be optimized for search. Otherwise, what’s the point?
This actually makes sense and was no doubt done to encourage more photo uploads. But photographers have always been active on Google+, and there seems to be a very active and close-knit community of photographers on Google+, so I’m sure they’re taking a liking to this new feature. But it will serve to benefit the rest of us as well.
In fact, if you haven’t been adding photos to your Google+ posts, you should.
When you add photos to your Google+ account, and you can do it in a couple of ways, you should go to great pains to make sure they are associated with the proper keywords. Start by keyword optimizing your posts with a great title and well-optimized content. When you tag your photos, make sure your tags match your keywords. If there are specific keywords you’d like that photo to be found for, include those.
So how can you upload photos in Google+?
For starters, you can upload photos by clicking the camera icon in the post field. Use the “Share what’s new” box, click the camera icon, and add your content.
The other way to upload photos is to click the Photos icon on the sidebar in your Google+ account. Click the red +Add Photos button and add your photos. Or, click “Instant Upload” or “Albums.”
Albums are another way to optimize your photos. Name your albums using keywords you’d like your images associated with. It’s an excellent way to categorize your photos and increase your optimization efforts.
Google recently announced the publication of a new webmaster cheat sheet. So if you just built your first website and want to know how you can get it to rank in Google’s search engine, you should download this PDF right away.
Keep in mind, however, that it’s just a basic overview, not a full tell-all. In other words, it isn’t comprehensive.
The PDF essentially offers the following advice:
Write a concise, informative page title
Chose a domain name that is descriptive and easy to remember
Write unique meta descriptions for each page of 160 characters or less
Give images short and descriptive file names
Write a keyword-based alt tag for each image
Include an informative and descriptive caption for each image
Keep your website’s content up to date and unique with fresh regular blog posts
This advice really isn’t earth-shatteringly new. Reciprocal Consulting has been giving this same advice for years. And remember, it’s still basic information. There is a lot more you can do to help your website rank in the search engines. For instance, you should build some inbound links to your site by sharing it on social media, encouraging your site visitors to share it with their friends, and writing guest articles and blog posts on niche-related websites.
More and more, the search engines are using a process called Latent Semantic Indexing for categorizing search results. So what does that mean?
In a nutshell, Latent Semantic Indexing (or LSI) involves analyzing a web page to look for related words and phrases that can be substitutes for each other or help the search engine identify what that page is about. For instance, “car” and “automobile” are two words often used for the same object. If you write a web page about your blue 4-wheel drive automobile, based on the principles of LSI, that page could also rank for search terms that include the word “car” even if “car” doesn’t appear anywhere on the page.
This is an important concept to understand for content writers because it means you can play up these related keywords in your content without harping on them.
In the old days, you counted your keywords and tried to write your web pages with a certain keyword density in mind. In other words, the number of keywords per words on the page. You wanted “automobile” to appear 1% to 5% relative to the actual number of words on the page (i.e. 1-5 times for every 100 words on the page). That’s no longer the case.
Instead of counting keyword densities, with LSI you can spread your keyword usage around to all related keywords. You might use “automobile,” “car,” and “vehicle” interchangeably throughout your content, which is more like natural writing anyway.
Latent Semantic Indexing is the future of SEO. It means that writers can get back to being writers again instead of keyword managers.
Dave Pasternak wrote a post on WebProNews proclaiming SEO to be rocket science. Accusations of flip-flopping behind, this got me to thinking about where he might be coming from.
For many larger companies who have a lot of data to sift through, SEO may very well be likened to rocket science. Online marketers will have a lot of analytics data to sort through, links, keywords to manage, etc. But for small businesses, it’s still largely about long tail keywords and quality content.
In fact, you could argue that it’s all about quality content even for the big players in (choose your) industry. But, the fact is, those large companies still have to sort through the data. Mom & Pop don’t.
SEOs and online marketers have to decide if they want to build a huge ship to sail the oceans or steer a tugboat through the harbor. If you are a small business owner, then your job is achieve respectable results through SEO and social media that keep your company profitable and your customers happy. A larger business has to measure every element of its marketing campaigns to determine ROI, and that can get tedious.
Panda and Penguin changed a lot, but they didn’t kill SEO. They just made it a bit more complex. Even for the small business owner.
Still, it’s not rocket science. The basics are still the basics.
Here’s a tip: All 4 of these SEO lessons from 2012 are lessons you should have learned in 2005. And if you didn’t, then you don’t really know SEO. Let’s summarize the article:
Love the longtail – People were talking about the long tail in SEO back in 2005. That hasn’t changed. If you’re a new business, your best bet is to go after the long tail phrases in your niche. Same strategy that has worked for years.
White Hat Is Back – In fact, it never left. Black hats succeed for a little while, then they always get caught. If you practice white hat SEO techniques, you’ll never have to worry.
Relevancy is the New PR – Again, relevancy has always been one of the key principles of SEO. For awhile, people got away with gaming links. But that was short term. Google came back and got them. SEOs who practices relevancy all along are still going strong.
Focus On Quality Content – Here’s another buzzword amateur SEOs like to throw around. If you didn’t focus on quality content in 2012, then it’s because you didn’t know quality content was a key factor long before that.
Nothing has changed in SEO unless you’ve been trying to game the search engines. If you focus on quality content and relevant link building, then you should see positive results no matter what year it is.
Google has introduced a new tag for publishers that essentially allows you to link your website to your Google+ page. It’s an interesting concept.
First, why would you want to do it? The most important reason I can think of is to help Google better identify your website as relevant to specific search queries from inside Google+. You can learn more about that here.
Two other reasons Google gives for using the rel=publisher tag are:
To connect more easily with fans, friends, and customers
Verify Your Brand Page With Google+ Direct Connect
If you’ll log into your Google+ account and search for “Pepsi,” you’ll see, on the upper right side of your screen, a “People and Pages” heading. Below that is the Pepsi brand page. You can add that page to your circles from there. Notice that there is a check mark next to the Pepsi brand name. That signifies that Pepsi has verified its brand page.
Doing that is really simple and it makes your Google+ brand page more prominent in a search when people are looking for your brand in Google+.
I suspect that this feature may not be used much now, but I believe it may very well become useful in the future. It’s easy to implement and it’s better to do it and never been seen than to not do it and miss good opportunities.
The question often arises, “Can you compete both in local search and global search?” Of course, the answer is “Absolutely.”
The key is to claim your Google Places and Bing Local listings while continuing to optimize your website for organic search. Where you want to dominate in local search is on Google Maps and Bing Maps. To do that, you want to claim those listings. Be sure to include address, phone number, hours, and other locally identifying information in those listings.
With global organic search, you just do all the normal things you would do on your website and off site to rank your web pages. I’d also encourage you to open up a Google+ account.
On Google+, you want to link to your website’s home page. When you set up your Google+ account, you have a Links section. That’s a good place to link to all of your websites. Just link to each website once. And if you are a contributor to third-party websites or blogs, and you should be, then list those links in the Contributor section. Ask the owner of those sites to follow the Google guidelines for Authorship.
You can rank locally and globally. You just have to focus your efforts on organic search for your website and make your local search efforts focused through Maps.
There are a lot of ways to go about link building. It’s pretty well common knowledge now that reciprocal link building doesn’t work. But if you do it right, then you can get away with it.
What you don’t want to do is contact other website owners and bloggers and ask them for a reciprocal link. That’s so 2000, and it won’t get you very far in the search engines even if they agree.
A better way is to make a list of people in your niche who are doing things you like. Contact those people and tell them you’d like to help them out. Then ask them what they have that you can promote. And link to it. Link to it from your blog and promote it through social media. Don’t ask them to reciprocate. You’re just being a nice guy.
If you do that, most people will find a way to do something nice for you. They’ll share your links and link to you from their blogs.
People by nature want to reciprocate niceties. We’re hard wired that way. All you have to do is find a way to promote other people, then let them find the way to promote you. This kind of reciprocal link building works and won’t get you in trouble with the search engines.