Friday, December 30, 2011

2012 SEO Tips & Strategies

As 2012 approaches, the SEO community will be looking for bigger and better ways to drive rankings in the search engine results pages (SERPs). 2011 brought algorithm updates that devalued some SEO strategies that had been relied upon for years, while stressing the importance of others that are still new to the industry. It will be important for all SEO professionals to recognize new trends as we move in to the new year. Here are some tips and strategies to get you started!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Link Building With Directories: Does it Still Work?

In the past, submitting your website to SEO friendly directories as a link building strategy was a great way to build your backlink profile and improve your rankings in the search engine results pages (SERPs). It didn't take a lot of time, effort, or critical thinking to get the job done. As a result, it was one of the most relied upon link building strategies for many years. And yet, as Google and other search engines improve their algorithms to better recognize quality backlinks and the value behind them, submitting to directories as a link building strategy has become less popular. This transition has a lot of people throughout the SEO community asking, "Does submitting to directories still work? Should directory submissions be a part of my building strategy?" Let's discuss what you need to know.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Duplicate Content Issues With Search Engines

Duplicate content has long been a problem for many websites, one that ultimately has prevented these sites from ranking well in different search engines' results pages. For this post, I want to focus primarily on Google, and how that search engine views sites that have duplicate content. One reason I want to narrow the focus to Google is the fact that their Panda algorithm update, which has been rolling out all year, was implemented to reward sites that had valuable, unique content, while pushing sites back in the search engine results pages (SERPs) for those that do not.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Optimizing Websites for Search Engines: Revisiting the Basics

I like to revisit the basic strategies one can utilize to optimize their website for search engines every few months or so. One of the reasons I like to do this is that things change, namely the search engines and what is factored in to their ranking algorithms, and it is necessary to account for those changes and make adjustments on the fly. With that in mind, there are also a number of basic on-site and off-site elements one needs to know as he or she attacks the problem of how best to optimize their site so it can rank well in the search engine results pages (SERPs). No matter how much things change, the basics remain constant, and ensuring that they are worked in to the process a must. Let's recap exactly what those basics are.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Rand Fishkin Questions Matt Cutts' Statement Regarding Encrypted Searches

Rand Fishkin has (albeit indirectly) appropriately called out Matt Cutts via Twitter - and because Rand garners the sort of respect throughout the SEO community, Cutts actually responded. As many of you know, and as I discussed earlier this month, Google is encrypting searches for those that are signed in to a Google account. As a result, the keyword data for these individuals is no longer available within the Google Analytics reports. Regardless of what Google's intentions were for doing this (was it truly to address privacy concerns?), Cutts had stated that the number of people searching online while signed in only makes up a single-digit percentage of the total number of searchers. And because of that, the implication was that it shouldn't have a negative impact on running a search marketing campaign as the keyword data lost would be minimal. 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

On-Page SEO Ranking Factors Update: A Fresh Take

Over the years, there have been a number of on-page SEO factors utilized to better optimize a web page for the search engine results pages (SERPs). Many of those on-page factors still play a prominent role in whether or not a page ranks well for the keywords that are being targeted. However, there has been a lot of debate as to which on-page factors are most important for ranking, how strong an influence each particular factor actually has on rankings, and what factors if any are no longer incorporated in to Google's ranking algorithm. My goal is to revisit these strategies, clear the air regarding which strategies are the most important, and make best-practice recommendations as to how each can be implemented.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Sponsored Reviews: Paid Link Forum Review

Sponsored Reviews is a forum that webmasters can access to find paid link opportunities. Back in June, I wrote a review on Digital Point, perhaps the most popular paid links forum, and since then have had some requests to give my input on Sponsored Reviews as well. As I always do when discussing paid links, it is necessary to point out that Google is not a fan of paid links, and if you are overdoing it, there is some risk involved a la JCPenney and While we know that buying links at times can be necessary depending on the industry and particular keyword phrase one is trying to rank for, it is best to respect the process and ensure that the links you are paying for are placed on related (and quality) websites. With that in mind, let's discuss some of the positive and negative factors associated with using Sponsored Reviews.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Google Now Hiding Keyword Data in Analytics

If you are signed in to a Google account, such as Gmail or Google+, and executing searches online, those searches will be encrypted moving forward. Google made this announcement on October 18th, sending the SEO community in to somewhat of an overblown frenzy. For those using Google Analytics, this means that the search query that person used to locate and eventually land on the website in question will no longer be available in the Keyword Report (assuming they are signed in). And while there is no doubting the fact that the loss of this data will create a few issues for SEOs and webmasters alike, Google has estimated that this should only effect 10% of the data compiled within Analytics. For now, I think it is worth addressing a few questions that have flooded the blogosphere, such as, "why did Google do this?" and "is this fair?"

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Google Analytics (New Version) & SEO Reports

Google has added SEO reporting to the new version of Google Analytics, which is currently in testing mode but accessible to anyone with an analytics account. Going against the traditional grain of holding their card close to their proverbial chest, it seems that Google to some capacity is making it easier for SEO professionals, webmasters, and company owners to analyze their campaigns and make adjustments based off of such analysis. Regardless of how these reports will be altered moving forward before Google eliminates the old version of analytics, this is certainly a step in the right direction regarding the oft tense relationship between search engines and the SEO industry.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Robots.txt or Meta NoIndex Tag?

For SEO professionals or webmasters that are managing their own online marketing campaigns, understanding what pages to greater emphasize to the search engine spiders is a key element in setting up a website to succeed in the search engine results pages (SERPs). Utilizing the robots.txt file and the meta noindex tag are two ways to do this, by indicating what pages should be blocked out from a search engine's index. Ultimately, the faster the search engine spiders are able to crawl and navigate a website the better. And a great way to do this is to send them to the most important pages of the site by indicating exactly where they don't need to be. The question becomes - what is a better way of doing this, blocking out pages by adding them to the robots.txt file or applying the meta noindex tag to the HTML coding of of the web pages?

Monday, September 5, 2011

Link Building Strategies: Improving Anchor Text for Better SERPs Rankings

It is well established in the SEO community that the number and quality of keyword rich anchor text backlinks that a website has is the number one determinate of ranking positions in the search engine results pages (SERPs). This is due to the fact that Google's algorithm is link based - meaning, their search engine robots crawl the web via links, and these robots arrive at websites by following these links.

The anchor text of those links (the link title that one clicks on) demonstrates to the robots what the page they are crawling to is all about. As such, when someone performs a search query, Google retrieves web pages from their index (that have been crawled by the robots) that may be relevant to what that individual is searching for. The anchor text directed towards a website allows the search engine to, generally speaking, assess the subject matter of the site's content, and how valuable it may be to online users (once they have actually crawled the site). While we know of many standard ways to go out and build links to a website, there are a couple of strategies that interestingly enough often elude webmasters and SEO professionals alike.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Hiring an SEO Company: What to Look For and the Questions to Ask

There are a number of important thing to consider prior to hiring an SEO company to manage your online campaign. As one would expect, digital marketing for most companies, small or large, has become essential in order to reach their target audiences. We no longer live in a world where consumers grab the Yellow Pages to look for a company, or grab their note pads and scribble down a business' information after listening to a radio ad. Why would they? People have become accustomed to the comfort of knowing that if they happen to forget a piece of information, a phone number, or an address, all they have to do is "Google it." For businesses, this means that ranking well in the search engine results pages (SERPs) for keyphrases that will generate valuable traffic and a steady revenue stream is absolutely vital. So what should these people be looking for in an SEO company to help them achieve those rankings?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Google Panda Update and SEO: A Fresh Take

The SEO community is pushing forward in the post Panda world that clearly attributes a greater value to unique and informative content online. It had been reported earlier this month that Google has rolled out Panda (and updated versions, most recently Panda 2.3) worldwide; prior to that, the seismic algorithm update was only relevant to English search queries. Businesses that primarily market online, primarily e-commerce sites, have been struggling to regain the loss in traffic and resulting sales as a consequence of the original Panda update. A lot of SEOs continue to question what it all means, while others want to identify effective strategies that can be implemented to optimize in this post Panda world, and what strategies should be eliminated altogether.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Using Google Analytics for Keyword Research

Back in May, I discussed the importance of conducting thorough keyword research as an integral part of any SEO campaign. Many rely on Google’s AdWords Keyword Tool to determine what keywords may be most beneficial to try and rank for based on search volume and competition. Others will supplement that initial work by researching what their competitors are trying to rank for. That is relatively easy, as all one has to do is analyze websites that are ranking well for the desired keywords and look for ideas.

But what if you have been running an effective SEO campaign for some time, and are ranking towards the top of Page 1 in the search engine results pages for your desired keywords? Where do you go from there if you feel like you have exhausted all of your resources? Assuming it is installed, Google Analytics may provide you with the additional keyword ideas that you may be looking for.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Yahoo! Site Explorer Shutting Down

For years, Yahoo! Site Explorer has been the primary backlink and competitor analysis tool for webmasters in the search engine marketing community. If you wanted to look in to the backlink profile of a client's or competitor's website, all you had to do was plug the URL in to the search box of the tool and it would return that data instantaneously. Earlier this month, however, Yahoo! announced that they would be shutting down Site Explorer, ultimately due to the recent merger with Microsoft (Bing). This news wasn't all that surprising for many, but has others scrambling to determine what backlink analysis tool they can rely on moving forward.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Google +1 Button and SEO Ramifications

It is widely accepted at this time that Facebook holds the reigns in the world of social media. Google, on the other hand, has monopolized search marketing but many feel the search engine mogul is inept when it comes to social media. In an attempt to catch up, earlier this year they rolled out the Google +1 button. Individuals in the world of search marketing and search engine optimization (SEO) have been debating what sort of impact Google +1 will have, and whether or not the signal will be incorporated in to Google's ranking algorithm.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Bing and Yahoo Merger Not Paying Dividends

In an effort to match Google's presence in the world of search marketing, Microsoft (Bing) and Yahoo merged so that each search engine displays Bing's results for a search query. At the time, for Yahoo this seemed like a step in the right direction, as Bing has made somewhat of a strong push so far in 2011 to capture our attention through advertising and increase their market share as quickly as possible. However, Yahoo announced recently that their second quarter revenue generated from search is down 15% from last year at this same time. And it turns out the reason why may be somewhat complex.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Is Google Voice Search Accurate?

IndOn June 14th at the Inside Search event, Google introduced a search by voice feature for their Chrome web browser. Essentially, the feature mimics the application that was developed for the Android smart-phone. The feature, which Google has dubbed "Search Out Loud," has been rolled out across the United States and is available on Chrome 11 and later versions of the browser. Understanding how the feature works is not extremely difficult, and in reality, it will not have a major impact on search engine optimization. The question is, does it work and how accurate is it?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Digital Point: Paid Links Forum Review

There are many sources that webmasters can use to buy links, and it is inevitable that more will pop up as the ever-changing world of link building continues to evolve. I have talked about paid links in posts that I have written in the past, but I think it is always important to reiterate the following - buying links is a risk, as it is a tactic that can be used to manipulate Google's algorithm, and any action taken to manipulate that algorithm can result in a penalty. As a result, it is important that webmasters who resort to buying links or selling link opportunities understand that notion and tread those waters with caution. I want to discuss Digital Point, a collection of webmaster forums that discusses all things related to search engines, online marketing, and the technical aspects of web development.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Duplicate Listings and Local Search

lI have discussed in the past my disdain for the local search algorithm that Google has yet to master. Unfortunately, there are a lot of problems with the algorithm itself that can lead to any number of headaches for business owners and online marketing companies managing local search campaigns for their clients. And while there are a number of things that can be done to prevent these issues, unfortunately, a lot of the time they are out of our control; rather, we simply have to roll with punches and make do with what we are given. I am going to explain why.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Importance of Keyword Research in Search Engine Optimization

I see it all too often - aesthetically appealing and well designed websites that are generating no traffic, and as a result, are not realistically serving any purpose. I agree that there are some companies that have chosen not to market online and as a result, their website serves as a reputation and legitimacy tool. For example, someone walks in to your store, you hand them your card (that has your URL on it) on the way out, and they return home to check out your site to make sure you are "legit." On the other hand, if you are attempting to use online marketing as a primary medium to reach potential customers, designing a beautiful website can be all for not unless that website can be found in the search engine results pages (SERPs). The first step to ensure that your site ranks for relevant search queries is conducting sound keyword research.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Anchor Text Links and SERPs Rankings

The key to ranking high in the search engine results pages (SERPs) is having a high quality backlink profile. The more websites that link to your website, the more of an authority Google's algorithm will perceive your site to be. The algorithm was constructed to solve a complex problem - how do we return the best possible information to an online user that is searching for something? Links are the exponential factor that help Google partially solve that problem.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Have Blog Commenting Links Lost Their Value?

Last week I discussed the process of purchasing links from blogs, what webmasters who are considering buying links need to look for, and what the risks are of buying links from websites that are entirely unrelated in content. Ideally, webmasters should be working hard to acquire non-paid, high quality links from other webmasters that maintain sites that are in the same niche or industry as their own. As Google's algorithm develops and becomes smarter, acquiring high quality unpaid links has inevitably become increasingly difficult. One tactic that most relied on, the acquisition of valued links through blog commenting, may not be as sound of an approach any more.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Buying Links from Blogs to Increase Rankings

There will always be two sides to the story of whether or not buying links is an effective strategy to increase your rankings in the search engine results pages (SERPs). All things being equal (quality of content, on-site optimization etc.), it is necessary to understand that a website that has a large number of high quality links will outrank a competitor that has a less impressive backlink profile. As a result, I don't necessarily think that whether or not you should buy links is the appropriate question to ask.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Google Tags Eliminated for Google Places Profiles

Two weeks ago, I discussed Google Tags advertising, an option that the search engine had rolled out recently that allowed businesses to increase their Google Places profile visibility in the map results. Well, merely ten days after writing that post, Google had officially eliminated Tags after a fairly short campaign. There hasn't been a whole lot of feedback from Google as to what caused them to remove the option for Places profile owners (no surprise here), however, I believe that there is enough information regarding local search to make an inference.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Google Tags Advertising

Most recently I have discussed the emphasis Google has put on Google Places, what businesses will benefit most from having a well optimized Places profile, and how the increased visibility of the map results in the organic results pages affects ranking positions. As the organic landscape continues to morph, it is essential that businesses trying to broaden their online presence understand and keep up with the supplemental features Google rolls out that can be incorporated in to a Places profile. One of the more recent features is Google Tags, and I want to address exactly what Tags are, what benefits may be realized from taking advantage of them, and finally, some of the potential drawbacks of using Tags.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Citation Building for Google Places Profiles

Over the weekend, I discussed the recent changes that have been implemented to Google's local algorithm and some of the issues that have arisen from those changes. Another topic that is coming to the forefront of the SEO community's consciousness relating to local search is citation building, and how that impacts a company's Places Profile rankings in the map results. It is important to address why citation building plays such a large role in local search.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Google Places Algorithm Changes

Google Places has become increasingly important from a search engine optimization perspective over the past 6 months or so. The Places algorithm changes that have occurred have been significant, and unfortunately not without flaw. Within this time frame, map results have been integrated in to the organic search results pages (SERPs), as opposed to being displayed on the side of the SERPs as they once were.

Monday, March 14, 2011

SMX West 2011: Takeaways for the SEO Industry

It was the search marketing event of the year. For two full days, people from the search engine marketing community gathered for SMX West in San Jose, CA to attend sixty sessions that featured more than one hundred speakers who discussed the latest trends in SEO. It was also an opportunity for many to try and come away with as much information as possible regarding the future landscape of the industry. As expected, Google's Matt Cutts was in attendance and was under siege with a multitude of questions surrounding the recently implemented farmer's algorithm change.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Google Farmer Algorithm Change - Who is Suffering?

Yesterday, I discussed the recent change to Google's algorithm that went live almost two weeks ago in an attempt to prevent content farms from appearing high up in the SERPs. There has been a lot of commotion since the update as many sites, including some that are not considered to be content farms, have seen a dramatic decrease in web traffic. Recently, Sistrix released statistics on a number of search queries that they maintained data for prior to and following the algorithm change to demonstrate who suffered the most from Google's most recent effort to improve their search results.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Google's Algorithm Attack on Content Farms

Only two months in to our new year, and the world of internet marketing and search engine optimization has undergone a fairly dramatic change. It was late January when Google first discussed that a major alteration would be made to their algorithm in an attempt to devalue content farms in the organic search engine result pages (SERPs). On February 24th, Google announced that the algorithm change had gone live. For those of you who may be unaware as to why Google would target content farms, it is necessary to know what these sites entail.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Google Penalizes JCPenney and Websites

Everyone in the world of SEO at this juncture is aware of the recent events involving JCPenney and and the penalties each company's website received from Google as a result of their actions. Essentially, Google determined that JCPenney and Overstock were using link-building tactics that violated their webmaster guidelines, thus dropping their rankings for queries that they had maintained listings on the first page of the organic search results for long periods of time.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Meta Description Tags: Are They Important?

As search engines continue to update and improve their algorithms, SEOs must continuously reassess what aspects of optimization remain important. The use of meta description tags, at one point in time, was an essential piece of the puzzle if a website was going to rank high for relevant search queries. And while I would suggest that they remain an important piece of that same puzzle, the impact that a well written meta description may have on rankings is not as significant as it once was.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Title Tag Optimization and Character Length

Title tags have always played a vital role in search engine optimization. It is widely agreed that optimized title tags give websites a greater chance at being ranked high on any search engine. In the past, webmasters abused this knowledge by stuffing their primary keywords in the title tag of each page, manipulating the search engines and gaining short term value from a rankings perspective. However, search engine algorithms, as we all know, have become more complex over the years and no longer value title tags that only display keywords. And while it is important to maintain keyword rich title tags across your entire site, it is also equally important to make sure that your title tags accurately describe the nature of the page.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Google's Search Engine Results Sting of 2011

Bing, owned by Microsoft, has recently come under fire after Google released allegations on the 1st of February that a sting operation conducted towards the end of 2010 revealed similar search results between the two engines. Google stated that they are convinced Bing has been copying certain search engine result listings.

The suspicions grew in May 2010 when Google noticed that Bing, without correcting the misspellings, was showing identical search results to those of Google for misspelled search queries. Over the next several months, Google claims that more similarities began to surface within the top 10 listings of the first page. Additionally, Google claims that the percentage of identical listings for the number one position increased also.