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Over on SiteProNews, Mark Garland has listed 50 Top SEO and Link Building Tips You Need To Be Using. Before his list, and it’s a good list, he makes some very good points about SEO.

  • links for links sake won’t get you very far
  • the only way to rank high is by genuine links to genuine sources
  • nobody outside Google’s inner sanctum knows exactly what the algorithm is
  • we do know that Google prioritizes relevant, high quality sites

So we need to be thinking of our content as the primary focus, and links as highlights of that quality content.

“Think of it in terms of the top 40. A song reaches the number one spot if it sells the most (for SEO purposes sales = links) but you can’t just take a collection of words, with no melody and try and get sales. In order to get to number one you have to start with a good song (for SEO purposes song = content). The song may not be to everyone’s liking but as long as a large enough number of people like it, then they will buy (or link to!) it.”

Marketing techniques, Search Engine Optimization, Web Design, and all the rest of the package really are useless if the song/content doesn’t appeal to anybody. Being an authority with easy-to-find information goes a long, long way to get your site ranked high. It’s the song most people want to hear, and you will find that your links are shared by quite a few people.

If you need help getting yourself into the “top 40″ and staying there, there’s help at reciprocalconsulting.com/search-engine-optimization.php.

 

An infographic at Marketing Pilgrim illustrates five obvious trends in search engine optimization. One of those trends is that social signals are increasingly leading to higher search engine results for marketers who are active on the social networks.

These social signals include:

  • shares
  • likes
  • retweets
  • +1s
  • comments
  • followers and fans
  • and other social signals such as total reach and influence

What this means for search marketers is that you should spend a little bit of time each day on social media, sharing your content and interacting with your audience. This will likely become more and more important as the search engines place greater emphasis on these social signals.

In the old days, marketers built content and tried to get as many links as they could to that content with the right amount of anchor text and other link building signals. Today, it’s all about the social signals, and we’re talking about more than those that lead to links.

There are a handful of social media websites that are most important in helping marketers increase their social influence. These include:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • LinkedIn
  • Pinterest
  • YouTube
  • Instagram

While these are not the only sites worth mentioning, I’d say they are a bare minimum. You may not need to be on all of them, but you should establish a presence on most of them. And be active.

Social media marketing is as good as SEO. Learn more about social media optimization at reciprocalconsulting.com/social-media-optimization-SMO.php.

At Moz, Cyrus Shepard shares 12 powerful ways to optimize for Google traffic without building links. It’s a great list, but I’d like to focus on just 5 of those optimization tactics and show you how you can put them to good use in simple ways.

  1. In-depth articles – You don’t have to be a news publisher to take advantage of this markup, but you should take a cue from popular news websites like Huffington Post and the New York Times. Use pagination, Google Authorship, canonicalization, and paywalls more effectively.
  2. Rich snippets - Google is adding more and more rich snippets all the time. You can use them for reviews, videos, events, books, articles, and much more. This is advanced SEO.
  3. Google Authorship – Google Authorship means having your photo appear in search results, which gives you a higher authority rating and potentially more click-throughs for your content.
  4. Local SEO – Cyrus Shepard mentions internationalized SEO, which is great, but what about local SEO? If you’re a local business, then you want to drill down.
  5. Social annotations – Simply sharing your content on Google+ is enough to increase your SEO potential. Your content will show up in more search results, even among people who are not in your network, but it will definitely appear at the top of the search results for people who are in your Google+ network.

Implementing these tactics won’t necessarily increase your search engine results or get you more traffic, but not implementing them will definitely hold you back.

Get more information on the best SEO tactics at http://reciprocalconsulting.com.

If you’ve been online for any length of time, then you’ve probably noticed that images are becoming more and more prevalent. In the early days of the Internet, images were used primarily as a way to capture attention. Once they did that, they were pretty useless. Even then, it was not uncommon to find pages and pages of content with no images at all. Today, it’s getting harder to find such anomalies.

Images are important, but they’re not just to capture attention any more. They often serve a broader purpose.

For instance, infographics are images that tell a story. You can actually build a web page with no textual content and say much more with the string of images as story. Your challenge then is to drive targeted traffic to that image.

Images serve another purpose, however. They not only enhance the content on your page, but they can actually enhance your search engine optimization.

There’s more to it than simply splashing an image on a page and adding an alt tag to describe what that image is for. The search engines are now associating images with the surrounding content. This sort of contextual analysis is going to get even better. Welcome to the semantic web.

Getty Images recently announced that you can embed images onto a web page. You can now have free images with credits and SEO value added to your content with a simple click. That’s not bad.

Adding new content is one of the best ways to increase your search engine optimization, but it can be expensive in either time or money. If you write your own content, you could spend a lot of time writing and crafting that content to say what you want it to say. If you hire a freelance writer to handle your content for you, it could cost you a lot of money. But some SEO techniques don’t cost a lot of money.

One way to increase your search engine rankings and SEO potential is to increase your page load speed.

Google’s page load speed checker will tell you if your web pages load slowly and on what devices they load slowly. This is important information because if your site loads slowly on mobile, that will translate into a bad user experience. Your traffic will go down and Google will notice that your click-throughs are lowering. That will affect your rankings.

Another way to increase your search engine rankings is to employ rich snippets.

There are different types of rich snippets, but all of them are valuable in letting the search engines know what your content is about – and not just Google either. You can use metadata markup to let the search engines know what type of content exists on a page and help them rank it accordingly. Microformats can be used for

  • Book, movie, music, or business reviews
  • People
  • Products
  • Businesses
  • Recipes
  • Events
  • And more

Identify the type of content that exists on your pages and employ rich snippets when appropriate. This alone could boost the SEO for that content.

In October, Dr. Pete posted a nice image of a mega-SERP at Moz. The idea was to highlight and draw attention to 25 separate SERP features that searchers may see at any time for a search query. It’s truly enlightening.

These SERP features include:

  1. Local Carousel – You’ve seen this black strip with images when you conduct a local search.
  2. List Carousel – This carousel features a white background and includes menu items as links, such as songs on an album.
  3. Adwords Ads – These appear at the top of your SERP.
  4. Shopping Results – Image-based sponsored ads on the left side of the page.
  5. Answer Box – These include dictionary definitions, weather reports, and direct answers to search query questions.
  6. Image Mega-Block – Search for an image and you’ll see these.
  7. Local Knowledge Panel – Usually include a map and a local listing.
  8. Site Links – Often called 6-packs, these are subordinate links that are related to a website and point to internal pages on that website.
  9. Video Results – No explanation needed.
  10. Local Pack Results – Like the 6-pack, these 7-packs are internal pages related to a main page associated with a local search.
  11. Authorship Markup – Associated with a Google+ profile.
  12. Review Markup – Usuallay associated with recipes, products, and other review content.
  13. Local “Near” Results – Tells you what is near the location you actually searched for in Google Maps.
  14. Image Results – Standard image result.
  15. News Results – A pure vertical result under the News tab.
  16. Social Results – People you know because they are in your social circles.
  17. In-depth Articles – A new kind of result that features long in-depth articles that cover a topic heavily and could be considered evergreen.
  18. AdWords Ads – Appear on the bottom of search results.
  19. Related Searches – Self-explanatory.
  20. Shopping Results – Like the above, but these appear on the right of the page.
  21. Knowledge Graph – Wikipedia entries, nutritional information, and other big box information that appears on the right side of the SERP.
  22. Brand Graph – Like the knowledge graph box, these brand boxes are connected with a Google+ page.
  23. AdWords Ads – Appear on the right side of the SERP.
  24. Disambiguation Box – Google’s attempt to clarify your search intent.
  25. Google Map + Pins – A fairly new search feature, this features pinned results on a map.

Cutting out the duplicates, this is really 21 types of SERP features, but it’s a lot. These represent the various ways webmasters have of ranking in the search results, and there are multiple strategies for each type of SERP feature.

All this means that you shouldn’t spend most of your time tracking keyword rankings because there is a lot more to search now than there used to be.

Guest blogging has become the de factor link building technique for some people. It’s become so popular that Matt Cutts recently declared it dead – too spammy. The good news is, it’s not the only link building method there is. It never was.

To be really effective at link building, you have to get creative. That requires a little out-of-the-box thinking, but it also requires some level of understanding how the Internet works.

Here are three easy-to-identify but often underused link building methods don’t involve guest blogging.

  1. Webinars – With webinars, you can list all the information for your webinar on your website. If you promote it properly, you’ll get others linking to your webinars page. Beyond that, offer resources on your website that you promote through your webinars. Your webinar attendees will leave pumped up and link back to your resources page.
  2. Video marketing – You can do essentially the same thing with videos. Create a few outstanding videos, upload them to YouTube and other video sharing sites, and lead people back to your resources page. You can do the same thing with podcasting.
  3. E-books – Write and publish awesome e-books. Create an e-books page where people can download your latest. If these are truly valuable resources, they’ll draw links.

You don’t have to scour directories and go on a guest blogging spree to create great links. Just get a little creative.

Affiliate marketing icon Sugarrae posted a rant knocking Google and Matt Cutts off their conjoined high horse. Near the end of her post is this brilliant little gem:

From here on out, you work on generating traffic. From here on out, you work on generating branding. From here on out, you work on obtaining customers.

There’s more. You’ll have to excuse the profanity, but you should read the post. I’ll add this caveat:

This is really nothing new.

Your job has always been to build traffic and brand. That hasn’t really changed. The problem is, many online marketers got away from the real goal and started focusing on search engine rankings. Rankings are nice, but they’re not an end in themselves. They’re not the end goal. They are a means to an end.

With personalized search, Google+, and other late great algorithm changes, you can’t predict search rankings.

You might have a page rank #1 for a search phrase only to later in the day rank #10 for the same search phrase. There are a number of reasons for this. One reason is because different searchers have different search profiles and Google is tracking them. You can’t control that. That’s why you shouldn’t focus too heavily on ranking in Google.

Online marketers now have a lot of reasonable avenues for attracting new traffic to their websites. You have:

  • Facebook
  • YouTube
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Bing
  • Niche websites

And more!

Focus on building your brand and traffic through a variety of online promotional means. If you do that, rankings will take care of themselves – as long as you don’t get too spammy.

SEOs love to talk about link building. Everybody does it. The problem is, everybody does it.

Let me explain.

Yesterday, MOZ posted a blog post titled 31 Link Building Tactics Discovered From Competitive Analysis. That’s a great title. And a lot of the link building strategies recommended are real solid. But many of those same strategies are used by spammers, which is why Matt Cutts declared guest blogging dead.

The list contains all the usual items you’d expect on the list, such as:

  • Contests
  • .edu domains
  • .gov domains
  • Guest blogging

You get the drift.

The list also includes items that might not be relevant to all online marketers. For instance,

  • Eco-friendly causes
  • Student and minority resources
  • Offering a job

I’m not saying these aren’t good link building sources. I’m just saying they may not apply to all types of businesses or websites.

When it comes to link building, it’s important that genuine value-oriented marketers distinguish themselves in some way from the spammers. Matt Cutts and the Google web spam team are after the bad guys, not the good guys or the people with good intentions. Educate yourself on best practices and try to do the right thing. That’s how you do link building in 2014.

High profile SEO Bruce Clay conducted a study concerning content creation and search engine rankings. What he found out was pretty astounding. Content curation can work better than original content if

it contains original content.

In other words, the key to successful content marketing is original content. That hasn’t changed in several years.

The Key To Successful Content Curation

The most popular kind of content curation is aggregation. This is where the curator simply takes a handful of links or content on a particular topic and aggregates them into a single post. It’s easy and doesn’t take up a lot of time. However, if this content isn’t accompanied by original content, it will be much less effective.

Distilling a lot of content into a smaller post where the original content is the star is a much better approach, though it does take up more time. Still, it is more effective.

Mashups can also be very effective. This is when you take a bunch of content and merge it into a single piece with an original point of view. That requires original content by definition.

As long as you include original content in your curated posts, they will achieve a certain level of search engine visibility. The more original content, the better. This is true SEO. Taking content that has already ranked and re-using it, even spinning it, is much less effective. SEO is, and always has been, about originality.

It’s the end of the year, which means this is the time when online marketing professionals look at the year and see what they did well and what they could have done better before turning their eyes around and predicting the trends for the coming year. Since it’s the law, we’ve decided to get on the bandwagon and make our predictions for trends in 2014.

Only, we’re going to approach it a little differently. We’re going to list 5 trends that started in 2013 and that we see continuing into 2014 – maybe beyond.

  1. Mobile marketing – Mobile marketing has been on the rise. Two things are necessary for this. The first are responsive websites. By the end of 2014, if you don’t have one, then you’ll effectively be out of the mobile marketing game. Secondly, the growth of smartphone and tablet usage make mobile marketing an all-in effort.
  2. High quality content – Internet marketers should have been focused on this all along, but people tend to focus on whatever Google forces them to focus on. In 2014, that will be “high quality content.”
  3. Social media metrics – Social media is a channel that has finally come into its own. For many websites, social media traffic will eclipse search engine traffic.
  4. Apps development – Who doesn’t love a good app? Again, smartphones and tablets are driving this train. It’s only going to go faster – until it becomes a super train.
  5. Visual content – Images, videos, infographics, you name it. Content is becoming more visual. Don’t expect this to change.

These trends started in 2013, but they’re only going to become more pronounced in the coming year. What do you think?

Before and after the Hummingbird update, one of the chief goals for many search engine marketers was, and is, to get web pages to rank highly for key search terms. However, how you go about that is different pre- and post-Hummingbird. One thing is necessary in both cases, however: Quality.

If you truly want to produce high quality content, here are five types of content that have a better than even chance of qualifying:

  1. Evergreen Content – Let’s start with the easy one. If your content has value today and will have the same value in five, ten, or twenty years, then it’s what we call “evergreen” content. That kind of content will always rank.
  2. Problem/Solution – This is content that answers a specific question or solves a particular problem. Think of a problem that you know people are having and tell them how to solve it.
  3. Case Study – A case study focuses on telling a success story. Take a particular client or situation and tell how that client was successful doing something. Make the “something” very specific. It can a product or service, a particular problem they wanted to solve, or a process.
  4. Hot Tips – If you have the “Top 10 Tips For Doing X” or a similar post, these are usually golden. Top tips content is very valuable if it focuses on real top tips.
  5. Analysis of a Topic – Write an in-depth analysis of a particular subject. That includes pros and cons as well as statistics regarding the subject matter. Take a position on something and defend it, backing it up with facts and figures.

Of course, there is never a guarantee that your content will rank well for your targeted keywords, but these five types of content give you a big leg up.

You’ve likely heard of link buying and how it’s a terrible practice to get into. You’ve likely even heard that it could get your website banned from the search engines. But what if you pay a blogger to insert your link into his or her content on a site he or she doesn’t own?

It’s been going on for some time now. According to Matt Cutts, the search engines are looking for ways to detect it.

It shouldn’t be hard.

As a practice, bribing bloggers is no better than buying links. In fact, ethically speaking, it could be worse. The net search engine effect could be the same. If you’re found out, you’re toast.

It is hard to say if Google has taken action or is looking to take action in the near future against sites using this technique but it is clear, Google knows about it.

My bet is, they’ll take action. But there’s a fine line because the site owners on the sites where the links are built may not be aware of the practice. If they were, they’d fire the bloggers I’m sure. How awful would it be if those sites were penalized and that was how they found out that their bloggers were stiffing them? My bet is, some bloggers would lose their jobs.

If you do things the right way, you never have to worry about running afoul of search engine policies.

If you think that having more web pages will lead to better search rankings or a higher PageRank, then you are mistaken. That doesn’t mean, however, that there is no benefit to having more web pages on your website.

There are plenty of small websites that rank well. I’ve seen one page websites rank well, five page websites that rank well, and websites with hundreds of pages that rank well. So what determines how well a web page ranks in the search engines?

Nothing but the content.

The only way to ensure that your web pages rank highly in the search engines is to follow SEO best practices. If you do that, there’s no guarantee that you’ll take over the No. 1 position for every keyword that you are tracking, but your chances are higher if you follow the best practices recommended by the top SEO experts.

Also, if you have more pages on your website, then that simply means you have more opportunities to rank well – but only if you follow those SEO best practices.

In short, you have to follow the best practices for quality SEO on every web page on your website, whether you have one web page or 1,000. It’s those best practices that determine how well you do, weighed against how other web pages also employ those best practices. Focus on good SEO techniques, not on building more web pages.

Yesterday, Bing announced the addition of some really cool features that should make it more competitive with Google. That’s not to say we can expect an immediate turn around in search market share, but Bing could gain 1% or 2% over a year with these new features unless Google responds with similar features. Historically, however, when Google follows, they choke. They are much better when they lead.

Here are the new features being offered by Bing now:

  • Discover TED Talks – TED Talks are very popular. If you search for a person who has given a TED talk, you’ll get a Snapshot pane with that person’s biographical information, including a list of their TED talks.
  • Famous Speeches and National Anthems – Listen to them online right from Bing’s search engine. If you search for a famous statesman, you can listen to famous speeches by that person with just one click.
  • Online Courses – Find free online courses from top universities.
  • University Rankings
  • Scientific Concepts – Search for a scientific concept and you’ll get the definition and explanation of it right in the search results, which is similar to Google’s dictionary listings and weather reports.
  • Historic Events – Looking for a historical event? Get information on it right in the search results.
  • Related People – If you conduct a search and get a string of snapshots, you can hover over the images of the people and see how they’re related to your search.
  • Animal Research – Search for an animal and get a list with images of subspecies of that animal.
  • Ask Bing – Ask Bing a question and get the answer in the search results.
  • App and Software Downloads – If you’re searching for a piece of software or a particular app, Bing will point you to the safest websites for download.

All of these are useful for searchers, but how will they assist Internet marketers in putting their products and services in front of potential customers? We encourage you to play with these features on Bing and get familiar with them. Then you can put together a strategy for improving your search rankings based on how Bing appears to rank pages for these particular searches.

On November 26, 2013, ICANN opened up the sunrise period for purchasing new domain names on brand new top level domains. The period ends on January 24, 2014.

The sunrise period is a 60-day period where trademark holders can register claims to a particular domain name based on their ownership of a trademark. For instance, Google might seek to purchase google.blog, or Amazon may go after amazon.blog. Trademark issues for domain names are tricky because there could be a conflict between two or more companies with similar trademarks seeking the same domain name. ICANN has a separate process for these disputes.

After the sunrise period, there is a pre-registration period where people clamoring for domain names can pay a premium price for them – if they have enough money.

Finally, after the pre-registration period, there is the open enrollment period where it’s first come-first serve for everyone else. The problem is, unless you are on a watchlist, you won’t know which TLDs are in which stage of the process. There are more than 500 of them.

When the .blog domain name extension hits the pre-registration and open enrollment stages, I expect a big land rush. That’s because blogging is the popular branding and marketing tactic of the moment.

Here’s the question: Should you purchase a .blog domain name? If you’re doing it strictly for SEO reasons, I’d say save your money. For instance, if you think that having lawyer.blog is going to help your blog rank any better than sandiegolawyer.com (as an example), then you should think again. It isn’t likely to happen.

The search engines use hundreds of ranking signals. The domain name is just one of them. And no TLD has an advantage over any other. Some people argue that .com domains have an advantage, but there’s no direct evidence of that (although you could point to plenty of anecdotal evidence).

Long story short, if you want a .blog domain for SEO purposes, then you should save your money. If you have a legitimate branding purpose in mind, then it’s worth thinking about.

If you’ve heard that link building is a necessary component to a successful SEO strategy, then you’ve likely been listening to a search engine optimization specialist talking. Did that SEO also say that quality is more important than quantity? In other words, it’s not how many links you get but how good they are.

Link building is one of the more dangerous SEO tactics because if you do it wrong, it will cost you a lot of money and could cost you a lot of time with minimal or no results.

With guest blogging, you reduce your risk considerably. To be successful at ghost blogging, however, you need to focus your efforts on writing high quality content and publishing that content on websites around the Web. The sites you choose to publish your articles on are as important as the articles you write. Pay very close to the reputations of those other sites.

What you want to do is build yourself up as an authority in your niche. The way you do that is with high quality content published on high quality websites.

When you publish quality content on high authority sites, those articles will get shared and receive links. Those links will help your site and your authority ranking. Focus on quality and good links take care of themselves.

In the early days of SEO, all content was based on keywords. That meant that anyone who created content for any purpose was writing content based on keyword data they found during their research. If you were targeting the automotive niche and you wanted to drive traffic to your used car sales website, then your content was designed to impress the search engines enough that you ranked for your targeted keywords. Simple, right?

Well, things have changed since then. Google has killed its free keyword research tool and no longer provides keyword data to webmasters so they can know how searchers found their websites.

Furthermore, the search engines are relying a lot more on social signals than they used to. This has caused a lot of search marketers to focus their efforts on creating social media spam instead of search engine spam, though there really isn’t a whole lot of difference.

Today, ranking for specific keywords and keyword phrases is all but useless. Chances are, you’re not going to know what they are anyway.

You’re better off focusing on your customers’ needs and more pressing questions. Before you build your website or start creating content, you should spend some time in forums and on social media asking potential customers what they want and expect in a service like yours. Conduct a very good market research campaign then design your website to answer the questions people have about a service like yours.

The idea is to build value into your content and your SEO. To do that well, you have to build intrinsic value into your website.

One of Google’s latest technology advances and one that is picking up momentum is Google Glass. An interview at Search Engine Journal shows webmasters how to optimize for Google Glass. Is it time for that yet?

First, let’s talk about what Google Glass does.

  • You can snap photographs without your hands.
  • Take videos or moving pictures
  • Share what you see in real time
  • Get directions from your location to another point
  • Send messages
  • Conduct Google searches
  • Translate your voice into other languages
  • And more

All of this from a set of weird looking glasses you place on your head.

It’s all pretty cool, actually. But should website owners optimize their websites for Google Glass? What would that mean, exactly?

I think the biggest potential for Google Glass for search lies in the Local department. If you want to travel from one location to another, then local search is essential. Otherwise, organic search is largely a matter of general information. Not that that wouldn’t be useful.

Google Glass is still within its first year. One Google Glass user gives it a net thumbs up, but that’s one user.

It’s unclear just how useful Google Glass will be for most users in three to five years from now. Will it have a run of market success or market failure? Until the public decides either way, there’s no sense in webmasters thinking about optimizing for a product that may or may not be around in five years. Google has a bad habit of rolling out products that don’t last.

Don’t get me wrong. Google Glass is cool. I can see it interacting with web pages in some very cool and powerful ways. But changing your website to facilitate new gadgets cost money and time. You should weigh that investment against potential gains before you get too excited.

You’re better off investing in optimization for mobile phones and tablets at this point.

Everywhere I look now there is an article going up on some SEO website, in an e-mail newsletter, or one of the dozen or so Internet marketing news websites I read each day about how you get can back in Google’s good graces following the fallout from all those bad links you built. My only question is this, why did you even start building those links in the first place?

For at least ten years, Google’s song and dance has been “focus on content quality and usability.” You ignored that advice and went with your SEO agency’s advice instead. That advice amounted to

  • Paid links
  • Reciprocal links
  • Link wheels
  • Article directories
  • Link spam tactics

All the ways Google said not to do it, you did it anyway. Now you’re trying to figure out what happened.

In some cases, SEOs and online marketers thought they were following search engine guidelines. By the letter, they were. By the spirit, they weren’t even close. And now the owners of those websites are trying to figure out how to kill all their dead links and get back on top of the search engine listings.

Here’s a reality check: Even if you got rid of all of your bad links, there’s a good chance that you wouldn’t rise high enough in the search engines to recapture your old ranking. Sorry, but Google’s smarter than that. The latest algorithmic overhaul – Hummingbird, it’s called – is designed to give whole new ranking factors a greater prominence in the final results.

Instead of trying to game the system, why don’t you just focus on quality content instead?