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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.

 

Search Engine Optimization has been around for quite some time; long enough to go through an evolutionary process that has changed the way internet marketing is done. The goal of being on the first page of the search engine remains the same, but the method has changed as search engines used new algorithms to determine how to prioritize findings. It’s a constantly changing puzzle that keeps professionals challenged.

Social Media Optimization is the new kid on the SEO block, promising great things and looking easier to deal with than the arcane formulas of traditional search engine optimization. But is it an either/or situation? Of course not. Neither one is a magic bullet that will maximize your marketing goals. Both SEO and SMO are tools that need to be used skillfully in order to work well, and they should both be in your marketing toolbox.

SEO will be used to bring your business up in the ranks of a search engine. Since search engine algorithms are trending toward using social media input, SMO starts getting important in search engine optimization. But while there’s an overlap, social media optimization has a completely organic side based on human nature. The way you optimize your social media is by engaging people in an ongoing relationship. A first-time customer might find you from an internet search or from a “share” from a friend on a social media site. That is the beginning of the acquaintance and it grows through interchanges that increase familiarity and connection.

Optimizing your business means you use the technology at your disposal to develop the relationships with your customers that result in a loyal base you can rely on for future transactions. If you only have been thinking of SEO, you need to add SMO to your toolbox so you have the advantages of using both. If you need help with your social media marketing tools, you’ll find it at reciprocalconsulting.com/social-media-optimization-SMO.php.

 

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.

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.

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.

A few years ago there was a trend to classify all search engine optimizers into three categories. They were either white hat, black hat, or grey hat. These distinctions, borrowed from old spaghetti westerns, are readily recognized as the good guy, the bad guy, and the guy in the middle, respectively.

Today, there is less of a tendency to discuss SEOs in these terms, primarily because SEO has become “content marketing.” I don’t care what you call it, it’s still SEO.

More or less, you can still classify SEOs into three distinct classes, but let’s dispense with the references to hats. We’ll call them withers, forers, and againsters. Again, terminology isn’t the issue. Call them what you want. The idea is that there are SEOs who work with the search engines, those who appear to be search engine cheerleaders, and then those who seem to actively work against the search engines – just doing what they want.

That last category is a little bit difficult to define because if you get the wrong idea, you might think they are the same as the black hat SEOs of five years ago. Not necessarily.

The “working against” category could include contrarians and SEOs who just do their own thing. They aren’t really concerned with best practices or following the latest trends. That’s not to say they don’t employ SEO techniques. They are more apt to write in a natural language style or use plain English rather than stuff your content full of keywords.

What’s the takeaway?

When you hire an SEO team to write your content for you or to plan your content marketing strategy, ask them what their search engine philosophy is. Do they work with the search engines or do they sound like cheerleaders? Or, maybe, just maybe, they are those maverick types who do it their way, right or wrong. You deserve to know.

Search engine optimization is all about positioning your content so that you maximize the traffic you receive from it. In other words, your job as content marketer is to keyword-optimize your content so that you achieve high rankings, right?

Wrong.

It never was about that really – even before Google started reporting keyword data (not provided).

The essence of search engine optimization has always been about producing great content. Period. Sure, your content might contain keywords based your ability to research what is hot right now, but simply adding keywords to your content was no guarantee that you’d rank well for that content or, if you did, receive any traffic from your rankings.

Historically, Google has been littered with top ranking content that didn’t receive much traffic because it was easy to tell that content was low quality content despite its high rankings.

Google started reporting (not provided) to keep webmasters from relying on keyword-specific search queries to target search engine rankings with more keyword-based drivel. We simply don’t need more low quality content. What we need is more high quality content that answers searchers’ queries.

SEO has always been about answering searcher queries. Find a question that a lot of people want an answer to and provide them with the answer. If you do that, Google will like you.

It’s easy to talk about good search engine optimization. It’s even easier if you don’t have a clue about what you are talking about. SEO isn’t just something you do once and forget about it. It’s something you start and never finish.

That said, what is the most important part about providing good SEO? Is it …

  • Link building?
  • Keywords?
  • Your Title tag?
  • Meta tags?
  • Site speed?
  • Page titles?
  • h1 and h2 tags (heads and subheads)?

Actually, it’s none of those.

The most important part to remember about your website’s search engine optimization strategy is your audience.

Yes, your audience.

Most webmasters don’t think of their audience as an aspect of SEO. In fact, most SEOs don’t think of it that way either. But it’s very important to think about who your audience is and what your audience wants before you start trying to search engine optimize your content.

The reason is real simple. You are writing your content to appeal to your audience. Your SEO must be written with your human audience in mind or it won’t matter what the search bots think of it. That not only goes for the optimization part of your content but the language part, as well. Your content needs to be written in the language your audience understands, and by “language” I don’t mean French vs. English. I’m talking about word choices, sentences structures, etc.

Those considerations are every bit as important as your keyword usage.

Write for your audience. That’s the best SEO you can practice.

There seems to be a trend to think in terms of a dichotomy where SEO and content marketing are concerned. I often see articles that encourage companies to pursue an online content marketing strategy AND an SEO strategy. To be sure, they’re practically the same thing.

Content marketing is any strategy you have to produce content in any form and publish it around the Web. You may or may not optimize that content. It’s up to you.

SEO, or search engine optimization, requires content. You can’t have SEO without some kind of content. It would be like driving a vehicle without a car. The vehicle is your content marketing strategy. The car is your SEO. They’re somewhat distinctive but the same.

I’ll try another analogy. Let’s say you want to go from your house to the library in your town but you have no transportation so you must rely on public transportation. You take the bus. The bus follows a certain route that you have no control over. Nevertheless, you have a choice about taking the bus or not. You could walk, call a friend, or do nothing at all.

The bus is your content marketing strategy. The route is your SEO. There may be multiple routes from your house to the library, some better than others. The bus system is designed to follow a particular route. If you take a taxi, you could get to the library more quickly but it will cost you more.

Following this analogy, it may seem like SEO and content marketing are two separate things – and they are. But they are intrinsically linked.

Whether you take the bus, the taxi, or you walk to the library, you are still taking a route (an SEO path). Your SEO is something determined by your content marketing strategy (the bus system) and sometimes it isn’t, but the two are linked. The truth is this, you can’t have a content marketing strategy without SEO – even if that SEO is somewhat ineffective.

The new buzzword in online marketing is “content marketing.” It’s a curious phrase because many veteran SEOs and Internet marketers don’t really see a difference between the new content marketing and what they’ve been doing for years. The truth is, there is a subtle difference.

Search engine optimization is the process of writing content in such a way that you improve its ability to rank in the search engines. That’s a kind of content marketing, but the term “content marketing” is actually a broader, more encompassing term.

Content marketing actually involves other types of content.

If you post videos to YouTube and other video sharing sites, then you’re engaged in content marketing. If you share your images on Pinterest, you’re performing a content marketing task. If you’re doing any kind of link building or maintaining social media accounts, then you’re involved in content marketing.

Infographics are a type of content marketing too. Graphs and charts, if published on the Internet (or even in print, I suppose), are a type of content marketing.

If you write guest posts, build Squidoo Lenses and HubPages, and publish articles on Web properties you don’t own, even if you don’t get a link back to your website, that’s content marketing.

It’s called content marketing because it requires that you first create content (in any form) then push that content out on the Internet (and other places) so that you reach a desired audience. If you expect your audience to then find you in hopes that you can do business with them, then you’re doing content marketing.

As more and more blogs and websites enter the Internet and the search engines make room for them in their indexes, images become all the more important. Recent search engine indexing changes make images much more important for search engine optimization purposes.

Either you can join a premium stock photo website and pay for your images or you can try to find public domain images, or free use images, to enhance your blog or website.

Free sounds better, doesn’t it?

While “free” usually means low quality, with images, it doesn’t have to. You CAN get free high quality images for your blog and website. You just have to look around a little bit.

Here are 4 sources you can use to find free images for your Internet marketing use:

  1. Flickr - Flickr is a photo sharing website owned by Yahoo! Users upload their own photos and images and set their own policies for usage. The best way to search Flickr is to go into The Commons area and search for images with a Creative Commons license.
  2. unprofoundunprofound is a non-profit website where registration isn’t necessary. They have few limitations.
  3. ZemantaZemanta is a WordPress plugin that suggests images based on the content of your blog post as you enter it. There are some downsides to the service, but it is free and you have to be careful that you do choose photos that are free for public use.
  4. Creative Commons – Just like Flickr’s The Commons, Creative Commons is a website that offers images on a variety of terms. Read the terms carefully for each image and choose only those that are offered for free. One pitfall is selecting images that are not available for commercial use and using them for commercial use. Read the terms.

You are encouraged to use images on your website and blog. If you can get your images for free, that’s a great option.

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

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.

What determines your reputation? There are a number of factors that contribute to your overall reputation. It’s not just one thing. I’ve compiled a list of 5 things that factor into how people see your company. These 5 factors are not the only factors that affect your reputation, but they are important factors, at least where online reputation is concerned.

  1. Customer Service – How you treat your customers is perhaps the most important reputation management factor. Is your service a positive or a negative?
  2. What You Say About Your Competition – Believe it or not, people pay attention to what you say about others, even your competition. Do you bad mouth them? It’s OK to point out the flaws in your competition’s product, or to point out how your products are different than theirs, but it’s another thing entirely to continue posting negative rants that are not related to the competitive nature of your business. Keep it professional.
  3. How You Conduct Yourself On Social Media – Social media has become a huge business factor. Even if you don’t talk bad about the competition, if you conduct yourself in an undesirable manner through social media, then it will reflect on your reputation.
  4. Search Engine Optimization – How do you look in the search engines? Can people find you? Admittedly, this isn’t as important as other factors on the list, but if you can’t be found in the search engines or what people do find is all negative, then that will affect your reputation online for sure.
  5. Your Website – If your website is unattractive or hard to navigate, that will hurt your reputation. Make sure your website is helpful and attractive.

How’s your reputation online? Take a look at each of these factors and see if you could use a little help managing your reputation.

The key to getting strong search engine rankings is to first get your website indexed. In the old days of SEO the way to get your site indexed was to submit it to a few website directories. But that method is pretty much dead today – for a couple of reasons.

The first reason is that Google has made algorithm changes that have killed off a lot of website directories as spam sites. You don’t want to be associated with them.

The other reason website directories are dead is because of the rise of social media.

What hasn’t changed is the need for inbound links. Your site will never get indexed by any search engine unless there are inbound links that will allow the search engines to find it. The search bots crawl through the links to find new pages to index. No inbound links = no indexed web pages.

So how do you make that happen fast?

After you build your website, you should share your pages on the social networking sites you are a member of. I’d focus first and foremost on Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest if your web pages have images (and they should).

Most of the time, if you save your web pages on Google+, then you’ll get ranked quickly. But I wouldn’t just do it in succession. I’d save one page per day on each social network. You should have your website indexed in less than a week if you don’t have any crawl issues.

Many small business owners new to search engine optimization and online marketing wonder why it takes so long to see results. There are a number of reasons why SEO takes time, but it’s not just SEO. PPC often requires several weeks, or months, as well. But why?

In a word, it’s all about the competition. No matter what niche you are in, if you are just getting started, then you have an uphill climb.

There are likely other businesses who have established an online presence in your niche. For every keyword you are targeting in the search results, you should expect a handful of competitors to already have a head start. Add that to the expectations of the search engines regarding quality content and you have a recipe for success or disaster depending on your implementation.

Google favors sites with age. That means that your new website is at a distinct disadvantage where search engine rankings come into play. That’s not to say you can’t achieve respectable rankings. You just have to work harder.

Recent updates in search engine ranking factors also come into play. Now more than ever, the search engines are looking for high quality content. Businesses new to online marketing generally have a learning curve. Your first attempts at creating high quality content will likely not work in your favor – until you learn what “high quality” actually means for online content.

In a word, you have to pay your dues. It can often be a lot easier to achieve high rankings out of the gate by hiring a professional content service that has a track record in working with businesses like yours.

Not all content is created equal. You can produce or create content that has temporal value. It can even have intrinsic value. And of course, even content that is temporal can have tremendous value even if for a short time. But there is no value quite like eternal value. That’s what evergreen content can do for your business.

So what is evergreen content? I’ve identified 4 very important qualities of evergreen content that every online marketer should know. If you know these qualities, then you can create evergreen content on a regular basis and keep visitors coming to your website over and over again.

  1. Search engine optimized – Evergreen content is content that can be found through a simple search query. It has to have some SEO value and be searchable.
  2. Valuable to a large variety of people – The content itself must have some intrinsic value. That value must crossover to people from a variety of backgrounds and achieve some sort of cross-appeal to multiple audiences.
  3. Must be shareable – Evergreen content is content that people want to share with their friends.
  4. Lasting value – As its name implies, evergreen content is content that has lasting value. It isn’t trendy or fashionable one day and unnoticeable the next. News is rarely evergreen because it by nature is transient. But informational content that has the same value next year or next decade as it has today will always be searchable and shareable. It’s truly evergreen content.

Are you looking for content that appeals to a broad audience and will be valuable for a very long time? You should be. It’s the most valuable content you can produce.

SEOmoz has an interesting article about SEO insights garnered from a study on pay per click advertising.

I won’t necessarily endorse everything in the article, but I think you can gain some insight into SEO by studying PPC advertising habits, and click-throughs to some extent. For starters, let’s take a look at the top 10 industries by average PPC cost-per-click:

  1. Finance
  2. Jobs & Education
  3. Business/Industrial
  4. Computers & Electronics
  5. Internet/Telecom
  6. Beauty & Fitness
  7. Automobiles
  8. Home & Garden
  9. Travel
  10. Shopping

Interestingly, in each of these industries, retargeting is proving to be very effective. Retargeting is the act of using PPC to reach the same market prospects across the Google Display Network as you reach in the Google SERPs. In other words, if you advertise using PPC and run your ads on network websites signed on to Google AdSense, you’ll be more effective with your SEO and your PPC efforts.

Mobile PPC Not As Effective As Mobile SEO

Another thing you should know is that mobile users don’t click on PPC ads as often. That’s because they are on the go and don’t take the time to click on ads. If they’re searching for something, however, they will use the organic search option. Mobile search is primarily about organic SEO. This is a golden opportunity for search marketers, especially where local search and mobile search meet.

Use PPC For Keyword Research

Finally, and we’ve known this for years, you can use pay per click advertising to test your keywords for organic search. If you are getting good click-throughs that convert in your PPC campaigns, that can also translate into excellent search positioning in the organic search space.

Savvy online marketers look at SEO and PPC as complimentary marketing channels, not competing ones.