For our regular readers you’ll know that I’m a huge fan of Best Of The Web as far as general directories. In fact, it’s one of the only ones I recommend to most people based on cost and reputation. Well occasionally they offer discounts and this one’s a big one. They’re offering a full 50% off but only for Cyber Monday.
They have annual and one-time options. At this discount however it’s pretty safe to say that the one-time payment at $150 (after 50% promo code is applied) is the way to go. I know I’ll be submitting more than a couple sites.
Every once in awhile it would be nice if there was some construction on the information superhighway.
Some road work that caused folks oblivious to our websites to detour?
We all want some traffic to take a pass through our pages, even if it’s just for a few minutes.
Ideally we’d want the detour sign to read:
“Turn here for great deals on XYZ!”
…but more often than not folks go for something a bit more catchy like:
“If you like kittens and free bacon turn now before it’s too late!”
The problem with the former is that people don’t respect honesty as much as they should, after all, everyone has something for sale, tell us something we didn’t know.
The problem with the latter is that while totally successful, the traffic driven to the site won’t be on target at all, will likely bounce, and the best anyone can hope for is brand recognition. Unless the site actually has kittens and free bacon, but who would be reading this if they had all that? (Note to self, make a site with endless kitten pictures where the uploader is paid in bacon.)
Ideally we wish to find a ‘Goldilocks’ approach where we aren’t too off-putting with boring honesty, nor are we luring in people who have zero interest in the site.
So lets take a moment to look at two common approaches for traffic generation that I don’t see discussed often, one is very timely.
Google just launched a massive ARG called the Niantic Project and I am already 7 13 days behind on the clues/feeds..
The idea is that you become very curious about the game and subscribe to the daily clues. With luck this catches the eye of your friends, they get curious and sign on too. By the end of the game Google should have a large subscriber group waiting anxiously for their announcement.
Speaking of clues, one thing I seem to have discovered ahead of the crowd is the Interactive global Niantic XM (Exotic Matter) POI map that Google built:
If this game is an introduction to the recently released Google Field Trip app, then is it possible that Google associates have taken the time to embed ‘clues’ into major landmarks around the world that need local residents to ‘discover’ using an Android device and the Google Field Trip application.
With any luck Google will use Niantic to reach more people than they normally would, and the more people who know about field trip, the better/more interesting it will be.
Think Outside the Box
In this case, the box, is the web/online and thinking outside means creating web content that people will want to print/download and share.
All of our team is doing on-page optimization training so that all of us have some skills with on-page SEO. Even if we can’t have each member doing live A B tests and such, they should know why you would run one and be familiar with the current standards.
This means that each of us has an SEO cheat sheet pinned to our cork boards and each of these has branding on them that we’re fine with. In fact I’m very tempted to promote these as something all of you should print for your daily SEO but I need to check and see if they are still available to the public.
If your company has info pages that are getting a lot of traffic, I’d look at pulling together a PDF of the content for download with a quick-reference for printing.
Getting your brand out there and helping potential clients is a win win for you if the market you are in is something that you want to be recognized for.
Giving it Away
If you felt like making a resource and simply giving it away was too much for your time/budget, then you’ll be shocked by the next suggestion:
Give something substantial to a charity, preferably an example of your trade.
As an example: If you sell shoes and there’s a drive for winter shoes for the homeless, putting free footwear on people that cannot afford your product won’t cut into potential customers/sales, and it will remind people where to get shoes, and that winter is coming.
If there’s nothing you can do for charity that lines up with your company, you can always just give some money away, many sites thank donors with an ad or a link, and even micro loans are a nice way to help out with friendly options to get you started.
There’s a ton of ways to get unexpected traffic to your site in a manner that will have the visitors eager to explore, and potentially buy your product. Anything else and you risk the traffic bouncing off your site and telling Google that you aren’t offering interesting content.
Today’s Google Doodle
It’s with pride that I re-share the daily doodle for the Canadarm!
Google is celebrating 31 years of Canadarm use today with the above doodle.
After 90 missions the Discovery and Atlantis Canadarm installations will be retired with the shuttles for museum display. The Canadarm that was fitted to the Endeavour was given back to the Canadian Space Agency and it is currently on display in the Quebec headquarters.
SEO news blog post by Ryan Morben @ 11:54 am on November 13, 2012
While the topic of this post is “quality guidelines” it is perhaps the most misunderstood part of the webmaster guidelines as it is open to interpretation; however, the core of the guideline remains the same:
“Don’t engage in tactics that are questionable. If you would be hesitant to explain your actions to a competitor or to Google”
“How would you build and promote you site if there were no search engines?”
While I could go in to specifics on each point, this is an instance where it is best to get the information directly from the source. Google has not really updated anything here, but do state the following suggestions:
• Make your webpages for your readers; no for Google or other search engines
• Do not deceive your visitors
• Avoid tricks/schemes designed to improve you rankings.
• Focus on what makes your site unique, valuable, or engaging and make it stand apart from others in your field
• Actively monitor your site for hacking and remove hacked content as soon as it appears
• Prevent and removed user-generated spam from your site.
The clearest recommendations that Google makes to avoid the following practices:
• Automatically generated content
• Link schemes of exchanges
• Cloaking/hidden text or links
• Suspicious redirects
• Doorway pages
• Scraped content
• Load pages with irrelevant keywords
• Abusing rich snippets markup
• Send automated queries to Google
Once you have repaired your site and corrected and errors or errors, you can submit a reconsideration request to Google:
SEO news blog post by guestpost @ 12:42 pm on October 29, 2012
Do a search for ‘coinflation’ + ‘gold’ or really, almost any other keyword to see what Google considers an ‘improved’ result following the EMD update.
If you didn’t get something like the results above, please let us know!
Okay so that seems slightly silly, but how the heck did they pull that off? There’s clearly PPC/AdWords competition for the phrase, and EMD should either be a penalty or moot, shouldn’t it?
Well apparently not! In fact EMD can still clearly be an asset if the ‘quality’ scores are all above par!
This means that if you have an organic campaign, with ongoing back links/references from trusted sources, and you aren’t hitting other penalties, you really should be feeling no loss at all from the EMD update.
Indeed, if your competition was using non-organic approaches to EMDs they should have taken a trust hit, and you may see an improvement in position due to their failings!
So while I can show you some examples of the EMD apparently failing to work, we can assure you it’s working, and overall seems like a positive step for Google.
10″ Google Nexus from Samsung?
Last night CNET announced some ‘highly’ probable info that Samsung is manufacturing a new 10.1″ Nexus tablet for Google.
The article is more of a stub of hear-say but had some rather ‘exact’ details including the resolution of the display:
The 2,560×1,600 display will have a PPI (pixels per inch) of about 299, said Shim. That tops the 264 PPI on the 9.7-inch 2,048×1,536 Retina iPad.
Clearly this will be the ‘high end’ model for the Nexus line (currently manufactured by Asus), especially when you consider that Google will be releasing a 7″ Nexus subsidized down to a $99 price this December!
In fact since we’re pondering things to come more than talking facts, I’d have to assume this will be a dual or quad core device with GPU acceleration of some sort to assist with up-scaling video content and 3d games to that eye-popping resolution.
So if this high-end Nexus tablet is anything less than $399 I’d be really shocked and very worried for Apple.
Okay, perhaps more worried for Apple, would be more accurate given it’s current public affairs issues..
In case you’re wondering ‘who cares?’; Tim Pool goes to the streets and broadcasts unedited footage of protests/events.
I’d like to think Apple is patenting this to prevent companies from doing this, but in actual fact this is very creepy stuff from the overly litigious makers of the most expensive walled gardens on the planet.
It seems almost like Apple is testing how well their brand/product can weather bad public image at this point?
SEO news blog post by Ryan Morben @ 11:53 am on October 9, 2012
Is Matt Cutts just goofing around or is he really trying to scare us?
The statement in the title of this article, from Matt Cutts, has the SEO world looking for further information as to just how bad the next Penguin update will be.
During the SES in San Francisco this week Matt Cutts got a chance to speak about updates and how they will effect SEOs. One of the things he was quoted as saying really caught my eye:
You don’t want the next Penguin update, the engineers have been working hard…
Mr.Cutts has recently eaten some words, retracting his statement that “too much SEO is a bad thing“, and explaining that good SEO is still good.
Even with attendees saying that he spoke the words with no signs of ominous intent, how do you expect the SEO world to take follow up statements like:
The updates are going the be jarring and julting for a while.
That’s just not positive sounding at all and it almost has the tone of admission that the next updates are perhaps going to be ‘too much’ even in Matt’s opinion, and he’s one of Google’s top engineers!
My take is that if you are doing anything even slightly shady, you’re about to see some massive ranking spanking.
Reciprocal links, excessive directories, participating in back-link cliques/neighborhoods, pointless press releases, redundant article syndication, duplicate content without authorship markup, poorly configured CMS parameters, etc.. These are all likely to be things, in my opinion, that will burn overly SEO’d sites in the next update.
The discussion also made it’s way to the issues with Twitter data feeds. Essentially since Google and Twitter no longer have an agreement, Google is effectively ‘blocked’ from crawling Twitter.
On the topic of Twitter crawling Matt Cutts was quoted as saying:
..we can do it relatively well, but if we could crawl Twitter in the full way we can, their infastructure[sic] wouldn’t be able to handle it
Which to me seems odd, since I don’t see any other sites complaining about how much load Google is placing on their infrastructure?
Clearly the issue is still political/strategic and neither side is looking to point fingers.
With Twitter’s social media relevance diminished you’d think +1′s would be a focus point but Matt Cutts also commented on the situation stating that we shouldn’t place much value on +1 stats for now.
A final point was made about Knowledge Graph, the new information panel that’s appearing on certain search terms.
Since the Google Search Quality team is now the Google Knowledge Graph team Matt Cutts had some great answers on the topic of Knowledge Graph, including the data sources and harm to Wikipedia.
There had been a lot of cursing about Google simply abusing Wikipedia’s bandwidth/resources but it was made clear during the session that Wikipedia is not traffic dependent because they don’t use ads for revenue.
Essentially, if Wikipedia’s data is getting better utilized, and they haven’t had to do anything to make it happen, they are happy.
If you wanted to get more details there’s lots of #SESSF hashed posts on Twitter and plenty of articles coming from the attendees.
I’m personally going to go start working on a moat for this Penguin problem..
SEO news blog post by Ryan Morben @ 11:56 am on August 16, 2012
As someone who is fairly scientific, I look at this as more of a proof of concept than a discovery, and ‘God’ really needs to give Peter Higgs some credit for his theories.
I won’t dwell on the news surrounding the Higgs boson particle confirmation, but there are parallels between objects colliding and revealing previously unseen matters.
When Search Engines Collide
It’s been some time since Bing and Yahoo merged, so the data sets should be the same right?
No. That would really be a wasted opportunity, and Microsoft is clearly smarter than that.
By not merging the search data or algorithms of Bing and Yahoo, Microsoft can now experiment with different updates and ranking philosophies without putting all it’s eggs in one basket.
An active/healthy SEO will be watching the updates to search algorithms from as many perspectives as possible which means a variety of sites on a variety of topics tracked on a variety of search engines.
Say a site gets a ton of extra 301 links from partner sites, and this improves traffic and rankings on Bing, causes a stability of movement on Yahoo, and a drop in traffic on Google?
It’s possible to say that the drop on Google was related to a ton of different factors, untrusted links, link spam, dilution of keyword relevance, keyword anchor text spamming, you name it. This is because Google is always updating and always keeping us on our toes.
Bring on the data..
Lets now take the data from Bing and Yahoo into consideration and look at what we know of recent algo changes on those search engines. This ‘collision’ of data still leaves us with unseen factors but gives us more to go on.
Since Bing has followed Google on some of the recent updates, the upswing on Bing for position of keywords would hint that it’s neither a dilution of relevance or spamming on the keywords/anchor text.
Stability on Yahoo is largely unremarkable if you check the crawl info and cache dates. It’s likely just late to the game and you can’t bet the farm on this info.
What about the other engines? Without paying a penny for the data we can fetch Blekko and DDG(DuckDuckGo) ranking history to see what changes have occurred to rankings on these engines.
Since Blekko is currently well known to be on the warpath for duplicate content, and they are starving for fresh crawl data, a rankings drop on that service can be very informative especially if the data from the other search engines helps to eliminate key ranking factors.
In the case of our current example I’d narrow down the list of ranking factors that changed on the last ‘Penguin’ update and contrast those with the data from the other engines and probably suspect (in this example) that Google is seeing duplicity from the 301s, something Bing wouldn’t yet exhibit, but Blekko would immediately punish as badly or worse than Google.
The next step would be to check for issues of authority for the page content. Is there authorship mark-up and a reciprocal setup on the author’s end that helps establish the trust of the main site content? Does the site have the proper verified entries in Google WMT to pass authority? Barring WMT flags, what about a dynamic canonical tag in the header, even as a test if it’s not already setup?
Start making small changes, watch the results, and be patient. If you’re not gaming Google and you’ve done something accidental to cause a drop in rankings, you need to think your way through the repairs step by step.
It’s not easy to evaluate but the more data you can mash-up, and the better you understand that data, the closer/quicker you can troubleshoot ranking issues and ensure that your efforts are going to be gains.
SEO news blog post by Ryan Morben @ 12:12 pm on July 5, 2012
Over at Apple things are changing to give the company even more power, profit, and exclusive control over it’s customers than ever before.
The good news is that Apple has been charged and found guilty of misleading Australian consumers who purchased Apple’s advertised “iPad with WiFi + 4G” only to find it’s not compatible with the 4G networks in Australia.
In a nutshell the service would hide your real activities behind a wall of fake information. If you ‘like’ a Mars Bar™ then your clone would like a brand of chocolate bar that directly competes with your choices. In essence it’s like an electro-acoustic muffler that covers your on-line activity with white-noise.
There is some implication that Apple has a technique to confuse actions of the clone with your actions, but I’d have to see that in action to honestly discuss it.
At the end of the day this means that instead of Apple and ‘others’ knowing about your interests/habits, only Apple will have accurate information, and they can claim that all other ‘targeted advertisers’ are second to them in accurately promoting to someone’s interests.
To me, this reinforces that Apple customers are the sole property of Apple, including their information.
Apple has some great changes coming for loyal consumers. They are spending the time to remove the excellent Google Maps application, which is a free service, and replacing it with Tom Tom maps, which they likely had to purchase/invest in.
It’s also rumoured that the next update to Apple’s Siri app will focus on data from Apple partners like Yelp, Rotten Tomatoes, and OpenTable, instead of Google.
This was a brave move to protect Apple from Google’s growing competition in hardware markets. If Apple doesn’t limit Google growth with every effort they can muster, Apple consumers will start to see why so many people are switching to Android.
From a SEO perspective, the fact that Apple, and it’s users are getting away from Google is worth noting. When I am optimizing a site, I’m doing it for the good of the site/company, not my preferences in search engines.
So if I had a client who sold flower arrangements or something that is very likely to be searched for with Siri, I’d seriously be considering the competition and rankings over on Yelp as part of their external ranking strategy for coming months.
Spending your money for you…
These changes from free services to paid options won’t cost consumers too much more, at least not compared to the new 19pin iPhone interface that Apple is switching to starting with the iPhone 5.
You heard that correctly, all those accessories you have purchased over the years with iPad/iPhone connections are all going to be junk. Not to fret however, Apple’s authorized partners will sell you all new devices, and are already working on a new line of must-have add-ons featuring the new connectors.
This way, all the cheap knock-off adapters/accessories that aren’t making Apple any money are going to be worthless and Apple will be climbing back into your pockets to kick those imposters out.
And thus the walls of the garden appear to be growing, taller, thicker, and electrified on both sides.
Speaking of Power & Charging…
In more promising news the process of pulling solar power from infrared light is closer to ‘practical application’ with recent progress in the field of carbon nanotube research over at MIT.
If you look at a typical solar panel, exploring the reaction between light energy -> power conversion, you’ll note that infrared (non-visible) light energy is largely wasted.
This is especially troublesome when you realize that ~40% of the sun’s light energy that reaches our planet surface is actually in the infrared spectrum and isn’t being converted to electricity by traditional solar panel technology.
Plus this new research is pointing to a compatible technology that can be added to existing installations vs. replacing existing solar panel installations.
Here’s the relevant section from the original article:
The carbon-based cell is most effective at capturing sunlight in the near-infrared region.
Because the material is transparent to visible light, such cells could be overlaid on conventional solar cells, creating a tandem device that could harness most of the energy of sunlight.
The carbon cells will need refining, Strano and his colleagues say: So far, the early proof-of-concept devices have an energy-conversion efficiency of only about 0.1 percent.
So while the recent announcement is exciting, and very promising, we won’t see the results for some time to come due to efficiency/cost issues which need to be resolved first.
The real news is that folks worried about investing in current solar tech need not worry as much about the future if the next improvements are going to be complimentary to existing solutions.
SEO news blog post by Ryan Morben @ 1:10 pm on June 21, 2012
Admittedly, when I read the announcement that Google Advisor (Link removed – no longer available) was here to help me manage my money the first thoughts were about privacy and that last bastion of private information Google hasn’t touched yet: Banking.
Being wrong never felt so good!
Google Advisor is not (at the moment) a way to suck more private information from you, it’s actually more of a consulting service for comparing bank accounts, credit cards, certificates of deposit, and more.
As someone who’s setup review sites for various services/offerings I can tell you how handy/popular it is to break down competing services so the consumer can select something that meets their exact needs.
Google Advisor claims that the information it’s showing is based on my data, but a 0% intro rate on transfers for 18months? If that’s really available to me I’m going to have to send Google some chocolates.
Google bought QuickOffice
Google bought the mobile office suite ‘QuickOffice‘ which allows ‘App-Level’ access to office documents for mobile devices based on Android/iOS/Symbian.
This move seems redundant with Google’s ‘Docs’ suite offering even more connectivity to your documents/spreadsheets/presentations, but that is just a cloud service, not an ‘App’ and you can have more offline control of your work if you have an ‘App’ vs. a cloud service.
Plus you can’t argue with the users, they want ‘Apps’ and will pay for them.
Google bought Meebo
I’m not sure if this was related to Yahoo’s ‘Axis’ bar plugin that came and went with zero fanfare, but it’s an interesting purchase for SEO interests.
Meebo is a handy social media tool with some great options for ad placement and on-line marketing. SEOs not already dabbling with the tool should take a look, like yesterday.
If you’ve been managing your Twitter, Google+, Facebook, etc.., profiles without a management tool, aggregation sites like Meebo are really what you’ve been missing out on.
We know that Google owned properties have more relevance and trust on the web than similar services/products. After all, if you can’t trust yourself, who can you trust?
So if you were using some other social aggregation tool, and were doing it solely for SEO awareness, you can safely assume it’s worth the effort to try out Meebo for a potentially improved result/relevance from your efforts.
We will be doing some testing (as we always do) and will blog about our results to further expand on what the service offers over others. This may even warrant an article or two?
SEO news blog post by Ryan Morben @ 12:42 pm on June 5, 2012
Our regular blog readers will have heard repeatedly from me that I’m a huge fan of Best Of The Web. BOTW is a now 18 year old directory that holds some very solid SEO value. One of the niceties of BOTW is that their review fee is (if you want it) one time. Another of the great things about this directory is that they’re turn you down if your site sucks. Why is this a good thing? It’s good because directories that include everyone who pays hold very little weight in the eyes of Google and for good reason. A directory that will turn you away if your site is sub-par is naturally going to be a better vote in Google’s eyes when they do choose to accept a listing.
Well … today being their birthday they’re offering 50% off listings. I don’t think I’ve ever seen them give this big a discount so today’s the day to submit that’s for sure. You just need to use the code “SINCE94″ when submitting. It’s good for all their submissions from web to blogs, etc.
Thanks to the recent (April/March) Google updates, ‘tread lightly’ has never been better advice to anyone in the SEO industry.
Between extra offers in my inbox to ‘exchange links’, ‘sell links’, ‘purchase links’, that all seem to be coming from GMail accounts, and reports of simple Java-script causing pages to drop from Google’s index, I’m about ready to dig a fox hole and hide in it.
First off, lets talk about how dumb it is to even offer to sell/buy/exchange links at this stage of Google’s anti-spam efforts.
Even if the offer came from some part of the universe where blatantly spamming services, using GMail of all things, was not the most painfully obvious way a person who SHOULD be hiding every effort could get detected, it still doesn’t bode well for the ethics of the company trying to sell you some ‘success’ when they can’t even afford their own mail account and have to use a free one.
Further, if the offer came from someone who was magically smart enough to send out all the spam and not have it tracked, if they are at all successful what you’ll be doing is adding your site to a group of sites ‘cheating’ the system. The more sites in the ‘exchange’ the more likely it is to get you caught and penalized. So technically, any success there is to be had, will also be your successful undoing.
Secondly, lets consider how you would try to catch people buying/selling links if you were Google? It’s an invasion of privacy to snoop through someone’s GMail to see if they bought/sold links, but if Google sends you and email asking to purchase a link on your site, is that an invasion of privacy or just a really accurate way to locate the worst spam sites on-line? The same would go for selling a back link to your site, just send out an email, wait for positive responses from the verified site owner, start demoting the site. Talk about making it easy for Google.
Heck as an SEO trying to do things the right way, if I get enough offers to sell/buy links from a particular spammer, wouldn’t it be worth my time to submit a report to Google’s quality team? I think the ‘lack of wisdom’ of these offers should be very obvious now, but they still persist for some curious reason; Perhaps they are all coming from those relentless Nigerian email scammers?
The next issue is on-page Java Script with questionable tactics. I know Google can’t put a human in-front of every page review, even if they actually do a LOT of human based site review. So the safe assumption for now is that your site will be audited by ‘bots’ that have to make some pretty heavy decisions.
When a crawler bot comes across Java Script the typical response is to isolate and ignore the information inside the <script></script> tags. Google, however, seems to be adding Java Script interpreters to their crawler bots in order to properly sort out what the Java Script is doing to the web page.
Obviously if a Java Script is confusing the crawler the most likely reaction is to not process the page for consideration in SERPS, and this appears to be what we’re seeing a lot of recently with people claiming they have been ‘banished’ from Google due to Java Script that was previously ignored. We even did some tests on our blog late in 2011 for Java Script impact and the results were similar to what I’m hearing from site owners right now in this last update.
So, the bottom line is to re-evaluate your pages and decide: is the Java Script you’ve been using is worth risking your rankings over?
If you are implementing Java Script for appearance reasons, using something very common like jQuery, you probably have nothing to fear. Google endorses jQuery and even helps host an on-line version to make it easier to implement.
On the flip-side, if you are using something obscure/custom, like a click-tracker/traffic Java Script which is inserting links to known ‘SEO’ services, I’d remove it now to avoid any stray rounds from Google’s anti-SEO flak-cannon.
I did toss some Minecraft demo map videos on-line last night/this morning, but they didn’t turn out so swell for a bunch of reasons and I’m just going to re-record them with better software. Stay tuned!
SEO news blog post by Ryan Morben @ 12:42 pm on March 22, 2012