Archive for the ‘SEO’ Category

An SEO Playbook For 2012

Posted: December 9, 2011 by FMstereo in Market Trends, News, SEO
2012 SEO Playbook
Search Engine Optimization is growing up. I am not ready to say the Wild West SEO days are completely eradicated, but in 2011 good search engine optimization is less about trickery and more about engaging content and audience development than ever before.Over the years, quality optimizers have become more prone to avoid technical tricks like using CSS image replacement to inject keyword text or controlling the flow of PageRank by hiding links from search engines.

Search engines keep getting better at crawling and indexing. If you are unwilling to burn your website or risk your career, you follow the search engines’ terms of service.

During 2011 the conservative attitude toward code crossed chasm to apply to content. For years, websites churned-out poorly written, generic articles in the name of long-tail keyword optimization. It worked so well some people turned crappy content into startups.

Now, thanks to Panda, Google’s site-wide penalty for having too much low quality content, people are asking why anyone would put pages on a website that no one wants to read, share or link to? Without taking potshots at the past, most of those articles look juvenile and antiquated.

Made in Japan went from signifying cheap to marvelous. Made for the Web is growing-up too. It is this evolution which guides my SEO highlights for 2012. I separate things to keep in mind by code, design and content.

Code – Keep It Simple

While Google likes to tell us they are very good at crawling and understanding imperfect code, I prefer to assume search engines are dumb and help them every way I can. Simple code is honest code. It’s also easy to parse and analyze. Just because you can AJAX-up a page with accordions and fly-outs does not mean you should. The more code on a page, the more things that can go wrong from spider access to browser compatibility.

Follow standards and get as close to validated markup as reasonably possible. Make it easy for search engines to spider your site. Validating HTML and CSS does not automagically raise your rankings, but it will prevent crawl errors.

At the same time, don’t insist on validation since some perfectly good code will never validate. Follow search engine recommendations to Make AJAXXML  and Other Code Crawl able.

Make your CSS class and ID names obvious, especially for section div tags. Again, Google tells us they have gotten good at identifying headers, sidebars and footers. Part of that is almost assuredly knowing the most common div names.

  • Make it easy on Google and Bing by naming your header div header.
  • Name the CSS ID of your right sidebar div right-sidebar.

Why would you name a CSS Class xbr_001 when you can name it navigation? At the very least, it will make life a lot easier on your SEO team. They have enough work without the need to translate ambiguous naming structures.

Reserve h# tags for outlining principal content. I am amazed at the number of big brand websites that still use h# tags for font design. Tell your designers that h1, h2, h3, h4, h5 and h6 are off-limits and reserved for content writers and editors.

The only exception to this should be if your content management system uses h1 tags to create a proper headline. Embargo h# tags out of your headers, navigation, sidebars and footers too. They don’t belong there.

Web Design – Less Navigation Is More

Look at the Zen like efficiency of any Apple product. Steve Jobs was ruthless about eliminating the unnecessary and achieving clean Bauhaus efficiency.

By contrast, too many websites, especially enterprise sites, try to be all things to all people. Their administrators or managers fear they might miss out on a conversion for lack of a link.

Websites should have clean vertical internal linking. Every page should not link to every page. You do not need a site-wide menu three levels deep. As long as people feel that they are progressing toward their goal or the useful information they seek, they will click on two, three or four links to get there.

Look at your website analytics. Which pages receive the fewest visits? Are any in your navigation? If no one uses a link, why does it to be there?

A website’s most widely visited pages tend to be close to the homepage. Review your categories and sub-categories. Can you eliminate whole categories by merging or reassigning content? For example, does the management team need its own category or can you move it into the About section?

This is not just about eliminating distraction. It is a way to increase the internal flow of authority (PageRank, link juice, etc.) to SEO hub pages.

Content – Engagement & Agility

Emphasize Community and Conversation. If your business depends on the Internet and you have the budget to hire one more person, consider employing a community evangelist. High rankings require authority. Authority comes from off-site links and, to an extent, brand mentions.

Earning enough links to make a dent in your SEO requires a continuous stream of link worthy content combined with forging and fostering relationships with people who create links or influence lots of others through online conversation. This requires a large commitment of time to work with writers and designers and to network. Even when decentralized, this rarely works without a strong empowered leader.

Get out of the sales funnel. The people you want to buy your products or services are not going to blog about your company or mention it on Twitter. More likely, they are peers.

A good exercise to undertake is ask each employee, if they could pick one professional conference to attend, what would it be? Then look for the session speakers on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. Find which ones are active online and gauge their influence. Are people in your company qualified to write authoritatively about these topics or speak at conferences?

This is how to find content topics for the post-Panda Web, things people want to converse about and link to. For example, if you have a cutting-edge API team, an API development blog could be the key to higher domain authority.

Understand Social Technographics. It will help you to find influencers and create content that people will want to link to and talk about.

Social Technographics

Embrace Agility

Realign your content generation and approval process so you can create near-daily web content and, if necessary, respond publically to something within an hour.

With Query Deserves Freshness, trending topics, news search  and simply because of how social media conversations come and go, agility is important for getting noticed and getting links.

Update Your Content

If your website has older articles that read like Wikipedia or a hardcover World Book Encyclopedia, swap out old content for new. In the future, Panda will not get leaner, it will get meaner. If you have reason to worry, start fixing it now. Do not wait and hope Panda will not see your low quality content. I want to be very clear here:

  • If you have decent quality content that provides real value, keep it whether it is SEO optimized or not. Yes, get to work optimizing older content doing things like selecting hub pages, optimizing text and cross-linking. But do not delete your old content.
  • If you have content that seems overtly advertorial, is cheesy or reads robotic because it is so stuffed with keywords, begin the process of writing one-for-one replacements and update your old content over time. For the old-time SEOs out there, this brings new meaning to a page a day.
  • If you have been hit by Panda already, I suggest removing your poor quality content, set-up 301 redirects to salvage the link authority, then begin rebuilding with high quality, link worthy content. Panda is a site-wide penalty. It is not going to go away until the offending content is removed or replaced.

Those are my 2012 SEO playbook highlights. In the past, content creation and link building were too separated. We had writers covering every long-tail key phrase possible while, in another room, link ninjas emailed and telephoned soliciting for individual links.

That model is becoming less and less sustainable. The Web is too big. Too many people contribute content. Social media offers an entirely new world of context. Today, SEO means finding an audience you can connect with, become a part of the community, give them insanely awesome content and reciprocate. This is the new SEO arms race.

Originally posted on Dec 8, 2011 at 1:24pm ET by  in Search Engine Land.

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How Apple’s Siri Could Destroy Local SEO

Posted: November 17, 2011 by FMstereo in Apple, iPhone, Market Trends, SEO
How Apple's Siri Could Destroy Local SEO

Have you met Siri yet? If not, it’s worth taking the time to learn more about the iPhone 4S’s digital ambassador, as she could represent the future direction of local search engine optimization.

On the surface, Siri — the voice recognition app that allows iPhone users to control their cell phones verbally — seems like a cool party trick, sending text messages from your spoken instructions, checking the weather and setting up calendar reminders. But does this added functionality really mean the end of traditional local SEO as some experts are predicting?

In some ways, yes. The real impact of Siri isn’t just that she acts like a personal assistant. The potentially huge ramifications for local SEO come from the depth of information Siri is able to access and the range of actions she can perform.

For example, Siri can call you a cab after a night on the town by automatically processing information about local cab companies in response to the query, “Call me a cab.” Automating the search process means you never look up “cab companies in your area” in the search engines, avoiding the traditional search engine results pages and pay-per-click advertisements entirely, therefore limiting their importance and influence.

Little is known about how exactly Siri collects and processes information, although it’s reasonable to assume that the program is drawing on well-cultivated public data sources, including Google Places, Yelp and similar sites. If Siri is eventually able to pull information from third party apps — as many predict she will be — she could effectively eliminate traffic to some traditional websites. As an example, automatically checking people in to Facebook places eliminates the need to visit those places’ websites.

And when you take into consideration that the iPhone 4S has become the company’s best-selling iPhone in just a few short weeks, due in large part to the innovative Siri technology, local business owners should take note of this trend and invest time in optimizing their sites for mobile discovery.

Here’s what you need to do to make your business website as accessible as possible to Siri and related voice recognition tools:

Optimize your website for mobile. This isn’t new advice, as the rules for mobile SEO — and the idea of local SEO in general — have been around for years. But as some sources estimate that 30 percent of all searches could include a local component by 2015, it’s more important than ever to make local SEO a priority for your business.

In addition to thinking about how consumers access your website while on the go, consider whether or not Siri can access important information about your business as well. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Add a mobile site template. Having users land on a mobile version of your website willmake them much happier, and it isn’t difficult to do, as mobile-ready themes already exist for publishing platforms including WordPress, Joomla and Drupal.
  • Enhance your local SEO. Prominently feature your physical address, local phone number and operating hours on the home page of your site for maximum local SEO benefits.
  • Remove data obstructions. Yes, Flash graphics and Javascript are already “no-no’s” when it comes to mobile optimization, but also consider how easily Siri can access the information on your site. Burying pertinent information in PDFs and sub-pages could put your site at a disadvantage.

Enhance your digital presence. It’s no longer enough to simply set up profiles on Facebook and Twitter and call it a day. Instead, establish a profile on any of the following directories and review sites and encourage customers to rate your business there for maximum exposure.

• Foursquare
• Savings.com
• Retailmenot
• Judy’s Book
• Citysearch
• Superpages
• Yellow Pages

To determine which of these options are the best fit for your business, do a quick search to see which business sites in your geographic area and industry are ranking well in Google and create profiles on whichever of the following sites they’re using.

Implement microdata. If you’re savvy in the ways of SEO or have an IT manager who is you’ll want to consider adding “schema tags” to your website. Schema tags allow your site to incorporate relevant microdata — local business, address, telephone and open hours, for example — that could help Siri and the search engines process important information about your site more quickly.

While Siri on her own doesn’t necessarily spell the end of local SEO it’s worth taking note of the popularity this mobile data management system has gained in a relatively short period of time. As Siri evolves and other operating systems adopt similar technology, the businesses that benefit most will be those that best understand how their customers interact in a mobile environment and optimize their sites to engage them.

Originally published by: AJ Kumar on 17th November 2011, in Entrepreneur.

Google is testing a variation on AdWords display that has the URLs shown above the two lines of description, but under the headline. Representatives from the search giant would only say that they’re always experimenting with different ways of displaying information, but multiple members of Search Engine Land editorial team saw the experiment on Google.com for a variety of search terms.

The AdWords display test is, in some cases at least, being shown along with an experimental display for organic results that we reported on in May. That result format also places the URL just under the title, or headline, and above the snippets of text.

Originally published in Search Engine Land on Jul 19, 2011 at 4:31pm ET by 

In this industry, there’s no shortage of information around how and why marketers are using SEO, but to me, there seems to be a distinct lack of research which looks from the other side of fence at how we use search as internet users.

Best practice is extremely important, but so is understanding how people are actually using search engines.

So I jumped at the chance to check out some recent research out by Performics and ROI Research, where they had surveyed people’s motivations and behaviour when using search engines. The data is US-based, but in my opinion reflect trends that are globally applicable.

Natural search vs. Paid search

When asked if they know the difference between natural and paid search results…

  • 63% said Yes
  • 37% said No

The age demographics of those who did know the difference between natural and paid search results…

  • 18-29 – 80% said Yes
  • 30-39 – 59% said Yes
  • 40-49 – 63% said Yes
  • 50-59 – 58% said Yes
  • 60+ – 52% said Yes

When asked how often they click on natural and paid search results…

Natural results:

  • 37% Always
  • 42% Frequently
  • 15% Occasionally
  • 4% Rarely
  • 2% Never

Paid results:

  • 5% Always
  • 15% Frequently
  • 43% Occasionally
  • 29% Rarely
  • 8% Never
User search behaviour

4 in 10 respondents (40%) used a search engine more than twenty times in any given week.

The age demographics of those who used a search engine more than twenty times in any given week…

  • 18-29 – 54%
  • 30-39 – 53%
  • 40-49 – 36%
  • 50-59 – 28%
  • 60+ – 26%

88% of respondents will click on a result that has the exact phrase they searched for.

89% said that they will alter their search query if they don’t find the results they’re looking for.

89%  will ultimately change search engines if they don’t find the results they’re looking for.

79% will go through multiple pages of results, if their query isn’t answered in the first page.

Universal Search

53% of respondents said they’re more likely to click on a listing if it includes and image.

48% said that they click on a company or brand if they appear multiple times in the SERPs.

26% said they were more likely to click on a search result if it included a video.

Why users are searching

83% use search engines to find specific products or brands.

78% said that they did informational search queries after seeing an advertisement for a product or brand somewhere else.

80% use search engines for informational queries about a specific product or brand before purchasing online.

76% use search engines for informational queries about a specific product or brand before purchasing offline.

78% said that they used search engines to find the best price of a specific products or brand.

74% used search engines to find where they can purchase a specific product or brand offline.

Overall, these findings support what many in the industry have long suspected: that SEO is crucially important, as consumers not only trust natural search results more than paid search ones, but are also more responsive to organisations with greater visibility.

Taken from Econsultancy – 11 January 2011 11:54am article by Jake Hird