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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.

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.

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.

Google’s Hummingbird update has turned the SEO world upside down. Everywhere you turn now, it seems you can find an article or blog post explaining how webmasters should optimize their websites for the new search engine. The talking point is that Hummingbird isn’t just an algorithm update. It’s a complete change in how Google ranks web pages.

Maybe it is. Maybe it isn’t.

Regardless of what you believe about Hummingbird, there is one thing that is absolutely true. It has changed the way we do SEO going forward. And because of that, it’s time to evaluate your website to see if it stacks up against the new search engine ranking system.

Your first step should be to look at your content. Is it written well? Does it target a specific target? If not, then you need to fix that first and foremost.

Next, take a look at your link portfolio. If you have any questionable links, then you need to disavow them. It’s better to mess up and disavow a few good links than it is not to evaluate your link portfolio at all and be penalized for have a few bad links. You don’t want to be hit like the content farms were under Penguin.

Thirdly, review your technical SEO. There are some very specific things you should look at. Search Engine Journal has the list.

Finally, take a look at your social media strategy? Do you have one? Is it a good one? If not, then you seriously need to think about starting a social media strategy that helps you promote your brand.

SEO post-Hummingbird isn’t a far cry different than it used to be – if you’ve always tried to follow the search engine guidelines – but it is different.

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.

One of the most important SEO tasks to get right is matching your landing pages with the right keywords. If your landing pages are optimized for the wrong keywords – even if they are optimized perfectly – you’ll have a hard time attracting the right customers from the search engines.

That’s why it’s important to ensure that your landing pages are optimized for the right keywords.

It starts with keyword research. It will save you time and money to put the investment into good keyword research in the beginning. Before you start building pages and writing content, you should know what your most profitable potential keywords are. Base that judgment on these criteria:

  • What keywords searchers will use to find businesses like yours
  • Types of products and services you offer your clients
  • What your closest competitors are using

Not that you have to use the exact same keywords that your competitors use, but you should be familiar with what keywords they are targeting and determine if those keywords are right for your business.

Once you’ve narrowed down your keyword list and have a general idea what searchers are searching for, then you can marry the keywords with your landing pages.

When deciding which keywords match your landing pages, think only of the intent for that landing page. What are you trying to sell on that landing page? If not selling anything, what is the main goal of the page? If it’s an opt-in to your newsletter, then pick a keyword that will attract more opt-in subscribers.

That’s it in a nutshell. Put your research in up front and come up with the best keywords for your landing pages.

If you have trouble coming up with a steady stream of blog post ideas, why not consult with your Facebook Insights?

Facebook Insights is your page metrics tool, which you can see only when you have obtained at least 30 likes. One aggressive social media marketing campaign can get you those 30 likes pretty quickly. After that, it’s just a matter of monitoring your metrics.

Every Facebook post you make can be measured. That’s true whether you post a simple message or you post a link. If you post links to your blog posts on your Facebook page, then Facebook Insights will tell you how popular those posts are.

Among the metrics you can follow on Facebook Insights are:

  • Total Reach
  • Paid Reach
  • Likes
  • Talking About This
  • User Engagement
  • Virality

Total reach and paid reach should be self-explanatory. Under the Reach tab you can get eyes on your reach by demographics, including gender and age. You can also measure your reach by country and the number of page views versus unique visitors.

You can also see the same information about people talking about your page.

The Overview tab is probably the most valuable. Below the graph you can see how many total people have viewed each Facebook post – those with links and those without. This is total reach. If you click on Reach, then you can reorder your posts by highest reach. Engagement shows the number of people who have clicked on a post and read it. The Talking About This column shows the number of unique people who posted about that particular subject. And Virality shows the percentage of people who have created a post from your Facebook post and the number of people who have seen it.

Play with these columns a little, reordering them by each column and studying which posts are the most popular. Take your most popular posts by Reach, Engagement, and Virality and write about those topics on your blog. Be sure to SEO those posts by relevant keyword.

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.

A report put out by the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs tells a wild story about the growing interest of content marketing among B2B marketers. The conclusion drawn is that having a strategy improves effectiveness.

Here’s the interesting thing …

93% of B2B marketers use content marketing, but only 43% of them say it is effective (the report doesn’t define what constitutes content marketing).

Intrestingly, the B2B marketers who rated their content marketing strategy as most effective had two things in common:

  • They had a documented content strategy
  • and They had someone overseeing their content marketing strategy

Other interesting tidbits gleaned from the report include:

  • Small companies (99 employees or less) are more likely to have someone overseeing their content marketing strategy than larger companies (1,000+ employees)
  • 73% of B2B marketers are doing more content marketing than one year ago
  • Out of 13 content marketing tactics, social media is the most used with on-website articles, eNewsletters, and blogs (tied with in-person events) coming in second, third, and fourth, respectively
  • While social media usage is high, B2B marketers are unsure of its effectiveness
  • Web traffic is the No. 1 metric for content marketing success; SEO rankings and direct sales are fifth and seventh, respectively

These are all very interesting observations, but I’d like to address that last point.

SEO used to be a very strong metric for gauging online marketing success. It appears to be dropping for a lot of companies, presumably because of algorithm changes over the last couple of years and Google’s continued insistence on the value of high quality content as opposed to high quantity content.

Content marketing is difficult to define. It isn’t synonymous with search engine optimization, otherwise there’d be no reason to list SEO as a metric for gauging content marketing success.

You can bet that content marketing will change a lot in the next couple of years. It’s still a relatively young industry. Nevertheless, as more B2B businesses jump on the content marketing bandwagon you will see more reports like this and it should give cause for marketers to stop and reflect on the nature of our industry.

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.

Remember when every SEO in the universe was harping on building inbound links? For awhile there, getting more links was the most important SEO activity in the world for most optimizers. Then, Google Panda happened. Then Google Penguin. What’s next? Google Platypus?

The truth is, good links have always been necessary. Not just for SEO but for traffic, as well.

You can’t build a successful website without some inbound links. The question is, what kind and how many? Ask any ten SEOs that question and you’ll get ten different answers. If you see any duplicates, it’s probably because those SEOs shared their notes.

The name of the game today, and it pretty much always has been, is simply writing great content and promoting it around the Web. If you get more links, fine. If not, go for the traffic.

Successful Internet marketers understand that links are a valuable commodity. But you don’t want to get in the habit of chasing links every chance you get. You could spend a lot of your time chasing bad links and getting your websites penalized. You’re better off just writing great content, getting it published, and promoting it.

The days of making inbound links the most important currency on the Web are over. Some people would say that’s progress. Others are crying that their game is over.

One of the most frequently asked questions of any search engine optimization company is, “How long will it take to get my site ranked?”

The answer is, it depends.

One thing you should know is it won’t happen overnight. SEO takes time. You have to be patient.

Remember, you are competing against a lot of other websites, many of which have been marketing online for years. They have a well-established search engine optimization campaign. It may or may not be working for them, but you wouldn’t know that. It’s been in place for a long time.

Your website has a chance. I’m not saying it doesn’t. However, rarely will you rise to a page one listing overnight.

What will likely happen is you’ll write a blog post or establish your website and you’ll find yourself getting listed rather quickly (as long as you build a few valuable inbound links – it only takes one). But that’s just the beginning. You have to be diligent and work your content marketing strategy. Write blog posts, write guest blog posts, do some social media, etc. Over time, you could start to see your website rise in the rankings.

SEO is not a happenstance activity. It isn’t a quick fix either. You have to give it time.

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.

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:

  1. Links are still believed to be the most important part of the algorithm (approximately 40%).
  2. Keyword usage on the page is still fundamental, and other than links is thought to be the most important type of factor.
  3. 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.

A.J. Kohn talks about short clicks and long clicks. But what does he mean by “long click?”

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.

Reading two articles about semantic search and conversational search, I had to ask the question, “Will keywords be necessary in five years?”

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?

One of the latest developments for website design is responsive design. This is a term that is used to describe a website that is accessible from any device and allows the user to experience the website whether viewing it from a desktop machine, a laptop, a mobile phone, a tablet, or some other device. The website responds to the device it is being viewed from.

>Responsive web design is about more than simple accessibility. It also has some SEO benefits.

For instance, responsive websites eliminate the duplicate content issue. If you have a website in HTML that was designed for computers and a separate website that was designed for mobile devices, you’ll either have to rewrite the content for the second site or potentially deal with duplicate content issues in the search engines. There’s no way around it. Even if your mobile site is a subdomain of your main site, you’ll have to face the duplicate content monster.

You also only have to do SEO on one site. If you have two sites, that’s twice the SEO work.

Thirdly, if you have a traditional website and a mobile website, then you’ll have to build links to both sites. Link building is a time consuming activity. You will most certainly duplicate your efforts in social media promotion and other link building activities if you have a dedicated mobile website.

Going forward, responsive website design is going to be one of the most important trends for website development.