The conventional wisdom surrounding e-books as SEO tools pretty much says give it away and people will link to your giveaway page. You’ll acquire a lot of links and you’ll be giving away information that translates into dollars.
Unless, of course, the e-book is no good. Then, you’ll get no links and no dollars.
Is that all there is?
No, not really. There’s more to it than that. You can still receive SEO benefits on an e-book that you sell from your website. If it’s a good book, people will link to it, or at least mention it by name. A good book will always get a recommendation by someone.
There are other ways to drum up some public relations on your e-book, which will lead to additional inbound links and SEO. You could send out a press release. You could also read an excerpt from your book and post it to YouTube. Or you could host a Google+ Hangout. Social media promotion is always a good way to get more publicity for your e-books, and it often results in more inbound links.
Of course, none of this is a guarantee. The first step is quality. Write a quality e-book about a topic that people care about. If you do that, links and SEO will take care of themselves.
In fact, if you read the article, it says that search results for brand names increased by 10% for Google+ users during the period between January 2012 and May 2013.
The study conducted by Conductor.com dealt only with technology writers, but I’m willing to bet that it applies to any type of writer. I’d be willing to bet that it’s true of any type of content producer – whether you be a writer, a CEO, a middle manager, or a small business owner.
You can compare Google+ to LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter all you want, but the one benefit that Google+ offers that none of the others do is that regular usage increases the search mojo for your brand.
It’s important to note that this is relative to personal brand searches, not generic keyword searches. You should understand the difference.
The importance of Google+ as a personal branding element and a social search tool cannot be overstated. When you use Google+, you are affecting your online brand powerfully. Take advantage of the Google Authorship markup tools available to you and use Google+ for your personal branding efforts. The two go hand in hand.
While reading SEO Theory, I came across this startling paragraph:
As the provider of content you create the keywords people search for. I have said this in oh-so-many ways over the years. This is a particularly important lesson in search marketing for journalists who fear the keyword-laden spreadsheet. No self-respecting SEO should be demanding that journalists write about keywords. Journalists should be taught to understand what the difference is between a keyword and everything else, but the journalists make the keywords — not the readers.
This is in stark contrast to how many SEOs think of keywords and keyword-based content.
That first sentence is a humdinger.
As the provider of content you create the keywords people search for.
You create the keywords? You mean, the keywords aren’t already there? It’s not the SEO who is just tapping into them?
Many SEOs approach content marketing that way, but it’s not necessarily the right way. If you let your readers dictate what your keywords are, then you’ll always be pandering to your readers. If you create your own keywords based on your business philosophy and what’s important to your business, then you can teach searchers to look for your content by teaching them which keywords are important.
This is how leaders in search marketing are made. Think more deeply about what a keyword is and how you employ them. SEO is broader than you think.
Every two years, Moz (formerly SEOmoz) conducts a survey wherein they ask high profile SEO experts to weigh in on what they believe to be the most important ranking factors in the search engines. Recently, Moz conducted its 2013 ranking factors survey and some interesting results have come to light.
For starters, the biggest ranking factor, according to the SEOs surveyed, appears to be page authority. That’s no real big surprise, but Google+ and Facebook social signals having a high correlation might be.
Another interesting survey result is that anchor text is still considered a very important ranking factor despite Google’s efforts through the Penguin update to kill low quality anchor text links.
Moz was careful to point out that correlation does not necessarily lead to causation, so that should stop us in our tracks in believing that social signals can be determined to be a bona fide ranking factor based on this survey.
Finally, the Moz survey led to the following conclusions by survey analysts:
Links are still believed to be the most important part of the algorithm (approximately 40%).
Keyword usage on the page is still fundamental, and other than links is thought to be the most important type of factor.
SEOs do not think social factors are important in the 2013 algorithm (only 7%), in contrast to the high correlations.
In other words, not much has really changed. It all still boils down to inbound anchor text links and on-page keyword-based content.
Going forward, however, the consensus seems to be that these ranking factors will not be as important. What will become more important to future SEO efforts, according to SEOs involved in the survey, are authorship, structured data, and social signals. So what is the practical application?
I’d say it this way: Continue building solid on-page content and building links while incorporating Google+ and other social media into your content promotion strategy along with structured data and schema.org standards.
In short, a long click is when someone searches for something through a search engine and clicks a link to visit the website. Instead of clicking back and making another search, they click through to another website. They may stay on the original site for a while, but ultimately they move on to another website because their search query has been answered.
As far as the search engine is concerned, the user stays on the first website forever. The search engine can’t detect a click through from a website – only from its own index.
Nevertheless, this is important user behavior because it indicates user satisfaction. You may not think that sending your visitors to another website is evidence of user satisfaction, but it is. You are giving them something they want – answers to their questions.
Your Number 1 goal is to provide searchers with answers to questions. That’s what SEO is all about. If you do that, then you’re doing your job.
That doesn’t mean you can’t sell them something or that you should drive your traffic to internal landing pages that result in conversions. The primary goal in SEO is to answer search query questions. If you do that, then you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing.
Did you know you can research local keywords using Google Trends? It’s true, and it’s easier than you think.
Go to Google Trends and click on “Explore.” You’ll see a dropdown box on the left side of your screen. The first label is “Search terms.” Click on the dropdown arrow and you’ll see “Locations” and “Time ranges.” You can enter up to five search terms for comparison purposes. After you enter your search terms, go to Locations.
The cool thing about Locations is you can narrow it down to your local area – within reason.
For instance, you can search for “attorneys” in the United States, or you can narrow your search to a specific state. Within each state you can also narrow it down to specific metropolitan areas. For instance, in Pennsylvania, there is a local area defined as Harrisburg-Lancaster-Lebanon-York, which is a fairly broad area.
Local search is a big deal. It’s growing more and more important everyday. And since you can’t really perform a local keyword search through Google’s AdWords Keyword Research Tool, you have to get a little more creative. Google Trends is a good opportunity for you.
The acronym gTLD stands for generic top-level domain. You are likely familiar with Web URL extensions .com, .net, and .org. These are gTLDs. In 2012, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) began taking applications for new gTLDs. As a result, there have been 1,903 applications filed for new gTLDs since June 13, 2012.
The addition of these new domain name extensions has some serious implications for search. For instance, each gTLD could have its own search engine to allow searchers the ability to find information on that specific gTLD. If you type search.jobs into your Internet browser, you’ll be redirected to jobs.jobs, which is a search engine for the .jobs gTLD. Search.travel allows you to search .travel gTLDs, and I’m sure you can guess what you’ll be looking for if you search search.xxx.
Currently, there are 23 gTLDs. There will soon be hundreds. As the number of domain extensions grows, the need for more sophisticated search tactics will grow.
Google also allows you to search for information by domain extension. You have to use the Advanced Search features, which few people know about but are available nonetheless. When there are several hundred domain extensions to search through and each one has thousands of domain names vying for attention, you can bet that demand for domain-specific search will be a lot higher than it is today. It would not surprise me to see Google set up domain search verticals at each of the gLTDs as they are rolled out. Bing and Yahoo! too.
While domain-specific SEO is not something you should worry about right now, know that in five or ten years it will be.
I’ve heard it argued that they’re not necessary now, which is only partially true, I think. As semantic search becomes more the norm, then I expect keywords to become less important. They are certainly a lot less important in conversational search, as demonstrated by Danny Sullivan.
The big question is, When will Google take the semantic aspects of conversational search and apply them to organic text-based search? I figure it could happen within the next five years – probably sooner.
Of course, that won’t immediately kill the need for keywords. I suspect that keywords will always be a part of search but in a more diminished way as search becomes increasingly more sophisticated. Personalization was one step in that direction. Google+ is another step. Conversational search is a big leap.
Keywords are still necessary because they are a good way for search optimizers, searchers, and the search engines to communicate on common ground. What Google is increasingly trying to do is make search more like natural conversations.
So the big question on the table is, How long will it be before Google succeeds at making search entirely conversational, completely semantic? You want to take a stab at that? Will it be within the next five years?
301 redirects are probably used much too often. They’re not bad in and of themselves, but if you employ them incorrectly, then it can hurt your SEO efforts. Do it right, however, and you won’t see any fall out.
Here are 3 popular redirect practices that I recommend you give up on right now:
Redirecting To The Home Page – Webmasters often think that if they delete a page from their website, then they can just implement a 301 redirect of that page to the home page and all will be fine. It is likely, however, that the search engines will simply delete that page from their indexes and not pass any link juice as a result of that redirect. You are much better off redirecting to a related page or a category page.
Redirecting To Non-relevant Pages – If you have a web page about changing spark plugs and you redirect to a page about oil changes, that’s less desirable than redirecting to a page about tune ups. As much as you can, you should redirect pages to similar pages or pages that can match content relevance as closely as possible.
Redirecting To Another Domain – Cross-domain redirects are not as good as same-domain redirects. If you move your website to a new domain, try your best to redirect each page to the corresponding page on the new domain. Don’t redirect the entire site to the new domain’s home page.
Implementing 301 redirects is not rocket science, but you should do it with some preplanning and make sure you are redirecting pages to relevant pages on the right domain.
Businesses invariably go through many changes over their shelf life. That includes search engines. Yahoo! recently changed how its search engine results pages look. But the question is, does that equate to improvement in the product, and if so, will it improve SEO and your chances of ranking better in Yahoo!’s search results?
I say, not so fast. Slow down. Let’s get a handle on this here emotional ride.
All they did was change the look. If you look at the actual search results, they appear to be in the same positions in both the before and the after image. That tells me that the algorithm hasn’t changed. The page might have a redesign, but the SEO results are the same.
That’s a big distinction. I’m not saying Yahoo!’s search results need improvement, but I am saying that just because the company changed the design of its search results pages, it doesn’t mean that you are going to start ranking higher or lower.
Of course, I think it’s reasonable to expect that Yahoo! will continue to improve its product. And I mean beyond design.
The big question for Yahoo! at this point is, How can the company ensure that it becomes more competitive in search while increasing its revenues? Anyone care to tackle that question?
Google announced this week that they rolled out Penguin 2.0. The Internet is a-buzz with analyses ranging from OMG! to zzzzzz.
Our take? Wake up and go back to sleep.
Algorithm changes are serious business if you have an SEO problem. Or, to put it more succinctly, if you’re running afoul of the search engine guidelines, then you have cause for worry. That doesn’t apply to most of us.
There are certain industries, however, that should be on red alert. Porn, real estate, Viagra, and anything that is typically associated with spam. That doesn’t mean that if you work in these industries you’ll experience a drop in search engine rankings. It does mean that if you work in these industries and you do experience a drop in rankings, you’ll likely find Penguin 2.0 to be the culprit.
Here’s a simple solution for algorithm changes: Don’t sweat them unless you have a reason to.
Sometimes, websites lose rankings when there is no just cause. But keep in mind also that algorithm changes move things around temporarily. You may lose rankings for a short while before popping back up. If you do lose ground and you don’t see your sites rising again after a couple of weeks, then you should be alarmed. Right now, don’t panic.
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.