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Beanstalk's Internet Marketing Blog

At Beanstalk Search Engine Optimization we know that knowledge is power. That's the reason we started this Internet marketing blog back in 2005. We know that the better informed our visitors are, the better the decisions they will make for their websites and their online businesses. We hope you enjoy your stay and find the news, tips and ideas contained within this blog useful.


April 29, 2011

Make Your Site More Legitimate…or “PROPER!”

I came across a great post on Michael Gray’s blog (aka “GrayWolf”) where he gives some great advice on how to make your website appear more professional and legitimate by instilling visitors with confidence in your brand. I would like to expand upon some of his points and offer some other techniques for you to consider in order to bring your website to a whole new level of professionalism.

  1. Get a Real Address
  2. Get yourself a real world address and phone number and use it everywhere. Invest in a real world mailing address. Indications show that Google does give a ranking bonus to websites that have real world addresses that match their WHOis information. If you work from home and are concerned about privacy, you can obtain a mailbox rental at a local mailbox rental service such as the Mailboxes Etc. or similar.

  3. Get a Real Domain Name
  4. Nothing says “unprofessionall” like a url that is linked to your ISP. Anyone trying to promote themselves as a legitimate business with an address such as: http://members.shaw.ca/username, is not going to be successful in portraying themselves as a legitimate business. For only a few dollars a year, invest in a real domain name that accurately reflects your business.

    It is worthwhile to enlist the help of a qualified SEO to do some preliminary keyword research to ensure you are choosing an appropriate address. You can change it later, but it is always best to leave it as is from the beginning.

  5. Use Your Domain Email Addresses
  6. Once you have a real domain name, stop using you ISP email address. mycompanysales@yourisp.com is wholly unprofessional and does absolutely nothing to instill confidence in the person viewing your site. It also shows a lack of understanding of basic web hosting principles. Most people that do this are usually not aware that emails can be forwarded from you ISP to your domain email address.

    By using sale@mydomain.com or contact@mydomain.com not only makes you look more legitimate, but allows you to track incoming volumes of mail and to change the routing to recipients. It also allows for distribution lists so that multiple users can receive the same emails. For instance, you can add/remove recipients to staff@mycompany.com as employees change.

  7. Use Boiler Plate Pages
  8. It is vitally important to have pages on your website for the areas that people expect to see when visiting a business’s website. Ensure that you have an about us, contact, privacy policy, terms of service, disclaimers and similar pages where necessary. These “boilerplate” pages go a long way in proving that your site is legitimate. It is also important to make sure that you have sufficient content on these pages and clearly show you company name and logo.

  9. Brand Marketing
  10. When you factor in the value of instant product recognition that a well designed logo provides and the amount of advertising opportunities it can offer, the cost of hiring a professional designer to develop a quality logo become less of a financial concern. Once you have a professional looking logo, use it consistently in your favicon, your social media profiles and in all of your communications. You should make it easy for others to use and share your logo, but at the same time take steps to protect against trademark infringement and reputation management.

    Your company logo is a graphical representation and a declaration of who you are, what your company provides and can reflect your company’s values. It is without a doubt the single most important form of social recognition that you can employ. Even if you can say or spell McDonald’s, almost every man, woman and child understand what the golden arches represent.

  11. Use Quality Content
  12. If the content on your site does not win over your visitors, it is all for naught. You can have a great website, a winning logo and a great domain name, but well written content is still of paramount importance and by far the most effective method of instilling your customers with a sense of your company’s legitimacy.

    Develop well written content and make sure to place it on appropriate pages. Information about the company’s history and mission statement go on the “About Us” page, contact information goes under the “Contact Us” section, etc. Good content is even more crucial after the Panda algorithm update from Google. Regardless of whether or not you think your viewers read the content, nothing drives away a potentially converting client faster than poorly written copy.

  13. Update Your Website
  14. By engaging in updates to the content of your site, it shows visitors that you are an active participant and that you are committed to providing an interactive customer experience. Actively engaging your audience through company blogs and other site content gives life to an otherwise static environment. This reassures the viewer that there is an actually organic and human component to the website and that it is not being run by a faceless corporation.

  15. Clear Navigation
  16. This may not seem like a significant factor to make your site look legitimate, but having shoddy navigation will not only infuriate and frustrate your viewers, but it will cause them to leave as well. Make the site’s navigation easy to follow and ensure that customers do not get confused. If you are selling products on line be sure not to hid access to your shopping cart section. It is also important that you do not bury your critical content five levels down. Anything that you want a customer to see or experience should be up front and no more than two clicks away.

  17. Press Releases and Media Kits
  18. Inform the public about the things that your company engages in that are "press-worthy." This helps to attract people to your site and can help to build links back to your site which is helpful for search engine ranking purposes. Incorporate press releases into your ongoing marketing campaign. Submit these press releases to a select number of high-quality, relevant news websites.

    Press Kits, often referred to as a Media Kits are pre-packaged sets of promotional materials for your business that can be distributed to members of the media for promotional usage. They are often distributed in conjunction with a press release or news conference. Create a professional looking media kit and embed links to your web content. Have a media kit comprised of PDFs; promotional materials, logos, company information and affiliate programs. Press Kits help to increase your company’s profile to media, businesses and the public.

  19. Social Media Profiles
  20. Having a company website alone is insufficient. You need to be actively engaging you viewers and customers. Using social networking sites such as Twitter or Facebook are not meant to replace your website, but are used to promote your company. Learn about different social networks and use only the ones that are most relevant to you and your business. Use a select few social networking sites and syndicate great content among them. It is not worth the expenditure of your resources to spread yourself too thin across too many. Good syndicated content will propogate itself.

    Specialize in your area of expertise and promote your strengths as a business. Try to keep your focus on what you know. This portrays you and your business as an area of expertise. A business that neglects the importance of social media will not be realizing their full marketing potential.

  21. Ads and PPC Campaigns
  22. There is a large temptation by online businesses to try and subsidize their revenue by engaging in sponsored ad campaigns. Use these tactics with caution. They may generate some extra income, but they look tacky and do little to portray the legitimacy of your site. If you decide to use ads, make sure the not obtrusive, are relevant to your site or products and do not any cause confusion in navigation or design.

A great site with a strong design that provides a great customer experience, not only instills confidence and trust in you and your product, but makes your visitors want to tell everyone else about the great site they have discovered! You can also read this post for further tips on surviving the Panda update. As M.C. Hammer would say, make your site:PROPER!

SEO news blog post by @ 6:57 pm


 

 

April 28, 2011

Last Day to Get 25% BOTW Directory Submissions!

This is you last day to get 25% off on the Best Of The Web (BOTW) directory submissions.

For our regular blog readers – you’ll know that rarely do we tout the wares of others. We don’t make recommendations lightly and rarely stick our necks out
on the offerings of others. You’ll also know that every time BOTW offers a discount – we are one of the first to blog about it and one of strongest proponents of signing up.

Since DMOZ basically died, BOTW has become my favorite directory. Yahoo! is obviously a good one but pricey. For the same price (or 25% less right now) you can get a permanent listing on BOTW as an annual listing on Yahoo! If you only want to commit to a year – you can get an annual listing on BOTW for less than half the price of Yahoo!

So my recommendation to you is to get yourself a listing on BOTW – but only if you have a good site. They will decline you if you don’t. If you do however you can get a good trusted vote/link with BOTW.

The BOTW promo code is: BDAY25

SEO news blog post by @ 6:24 pm

Categories:Uncategorized

 

 

April 27, 2011

Google Grapples Groupon

Just a few short months ago, Google offered approximately 6 billion dollars in a buy-out offer for the deal-of-the-day online coupon giant Groupon. Groupon declined the unprecedented offer and stated that they would be conducting an IPO soon afterwards.

Groupon stated that they could raise as much as $1 billion in the IPO, which could come in the second half of 2011, although the exact size had not yet been determined. Groupon is likely to pick Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley to lead a second-half IPO that could value the fast-growing daily deals site at $15 billion to $20 billion. Considering the size of the buy-out offer, it was clear that Google had plans to launch into the deal-a-day enterprise with or without Groupon.

Google announced that they will be launching their new Google Offers service. The online coupon site is still in Beta form and is currently only offering deals in Portland, Oregon but will be releasing the service next in New York and to the San Francisco Bay Areas.

At this point in time, Google has no plans of launching the service outside of the US. Clearly Google is waiting to see how much of the market they can pull away from Groupon before expanding too quickly.

It will certainly be an interesting battle as Groupon and Google faceoff to see who will end up dominating the online coupon market. Considering the value of the companies and amount of revenue involved, it looks to be quite entertaining. One thing is for certain. Google does not like competition…There can be only one.

If you are a business in the Portland area, you can sign up for this service here: https://services.google.com/fb/forms/googleofferscontact/ Drop us line with your comments regarding the service. We would love to hear about your experience with the new Google Offers.

SEO news blog post by @ 5:23 pm

Categories:Google,Uncategorized

 

 

April 19, 2011

Panda Puts “Hit” on ciao.co.uk

In a follow up to the post I published yesterday on the Top 20 “Losers” from Google’s Panda UK Update, one of the worst hit companies was Ciao.co.uk, a Microsoft owned company that was leading an EU competition case against Google. Accusations from Microsoft state that Google is purposely using the Panda algorithm update to attack Ciao in an effort to reduce its rankings.

Ciao.co.uk was involved in initiating an EU investigation into Google in November 2010. Microsoft claims that Google has used its dominant position to limit rivals products. The Panda update was designed to lower the overall positioning of content-farms and other low-quality websites and is part of a larger effort to reduce the amount of webspam that has permeated the search results for years.

Google’s head of search evaluation, Scott Huffman, said the accusation was “almost absurd” to suggest that the results were rigged. Of course "almost absurd" is no quite the same as “completely absurd.” Google and Microsoft have a great deal of animosity towards each other and are no strangers to the enmity that has existed between the two corporations for years.

Looking at the list of site that have been negatively affected by the Panda appears to show that most site on the list have been legitimately penalized by Panda. Panda was specifically designed to attack product comparison sites, reviews sites and voucher code sites; and Ciao is no different.

After taking just a precursory look at the Ciao website, the site is found to publish duplicate reviews on multiple pages and sites. Ciao is continually regurgitating massive amounts of content. This is exactly what Panda was targeting site for. One of the reviews on the site that I checked was republished in its entirety on over 30 individual pages and on no less than 3 other websites.

Majestic SEO reports 23 200 000 backlinks coming from 63 000 unique domains, which is an average of 368 links from each domain. Even when looking at the single domain: http://www.ciao.co.uk/, there are 157 049 backlinks coming from 1027 unique domains.

That averages 153 (157 049/1027=153) links form each domain.

From the backlinks analyzed from Majestic, this was the data over 10 000 incoming backlinks grouped by IP block.

IP Block # of Links
92.122.217.* 109,721
94.245.123.* 45,810
65.55.17.* 45,588
69.175.60.* 32,634
66.216.1.* 28,385
207.218.202.* 21,540
212.227.159.* 13,800
178.79.137.* 11,100
95.154.211.* 10,428
69.163.188.* 10,266

One of the worst offenders was http://small-business-service.com/ which has over 10974 links pointing to ciao.co.uk from a single IP.

On the site, a visitor can see the huge proliferation of spammy, low-quality links that this site engages in. The total number of links to all pages on the ciao domain including sub domains and redirects was even more astonishing:

Pages Indexed: 19,174,884
# of Backlinks Links: 23,199,785
# of Unique Domains: 62,886

It would appear that the newest iteration of the Panda algorithm update form Google is doing a great job on catching the low-quality sites and dealing with them quite justly. The new algorithm certainly needs some tweaking as many quality sites took penalties as well.

As lesser quality sites are displaced, those sites that do offer a quality user experience, use legitimate linking strategies and can offer quality content will begin to see their potential rankings increase.

Beanstalk is currently in the process of testing organic vs. non-organic strategies in an attempt to challenge the effectiveness of Panda’s filtering capabilities. Watch for our 3 part blog series on this topic coming soon!

SEO news blog post by @ 10:16 pm


 

 

April 18, 2011

Don’t Panic!…Panda’s UK SERP Attack

It has been a week after the Panda was released upon the UK and other English-speaking countries. The Panda Algorithm update was released internationally last Monday and created some much expected “panda-monium” in the rankings for many thousands of sites in the UK and the world. Data from Search Metrics compiled a list of the biggest “losers” and the 20 biggest “winners” of the update.

At first glance, it looks that the update did what it was intended to do by attacking many product comparison sites, reviews sites and voucher code sites. Many of these “low-quality” sites fared poorly in the wake of the Panda.

Ciao’s UK site lost 94% of its online visibility while the user recommendations site Qype lost approximately 96% of its search engine visibility following the update. Other sites saw some incredible gains. Tech Crunch realized a 41% increase in its rankings and site like Mirror.co.uk, ITV.com and Metro.co.uk all saw an increase of about 20%.

Top 20 “Losers” from Google’s Panda UK Update

Domain New visbility Old visibility Change %
moneypage.com 25 39231 -39206 -99.94
pricedash.com 127 55141 -55014 -99.77
njobs.org.uk 92 30693 -30601 -99.7
voucherstar.co.uk 126 38748 -38622 -99.67
osoyou.com 96 26668 -26572 -99.64
zath.co.uk 161 39768 -39607 -99.6
shoppingvouchers.co.uk 134 30056 -29922 -99.55
discountshoppinguk.co.uk 491 66270 -65779 -99.26
just-food.com 293 39282 -38989 -99.25
webdevelopersnotes.com 583 54948 -54365 -98.94
netvouchercodes.co.uk 1935 152376 -150441 -98.73
pocket-lint.com 2128 165956 -163828 -98.72
killerstartups.com 869 52717 -51848 -98.35
wakoopa.com 1334 71525 -70191 -98.13
aceshowbiz.com 907 46188 -45281 -98.04
everydaysale.co.uk 3822 175800 -171978 -97.83
hotfrog.co.uk 1124 44863 -43739 -97.49
phonesreview.co.uk 864 33418 -32554 -97.41
electricpig.co.uk 1678 60882 -59204 -97.24
kgbanswers.co.uk 1009 31427 -30418 -96.79

 

Top 20 “Winners” from Google’s Panda UK Update

domain New visibility Old visibility Change %
ebay.co.uk 1469346 1034302 435044 42.1
techcrunch.com 174797 124220 50577 40.7
national-lottery.co.uk 292053 209357 82696 39.5
econsultancy.com 186175 135804 50371 37.1
thisismoney.co.uk 234717 180377 54340 30.1
siteslike.com 175869 140279 35590 25.4
mirror.co.uk 275876 220937 54939 24.9
blogspot.com 1006719 819832 186887 22.8
mashable.com 295137 240714 54423 22.6
itv.com 345470 282300 63170 22.4
metro.co.uk 181507 149271 32236 21.6
independent.co.uk 471896 388280 83616 21.5
mozilla.org 146282 122471 23811 19.4
youtube.com 8856696 7446902 1409794 18.9
vimeo.com 168979 142182 26797 18.9
wordpress.com 331836 279738 52098 18.6
laterooms.com 150533 127297 23236 18.3
dailymotion.com 577590 490328 87262 17.8
soundcloud.com 150998 128569 22429 17.5

 

 

Some sites are not happy with the numbers being reported by Search Metrics. They feel that the numbers do not accurately reflect what certain they have experienced. Doug Scott from discountvouchers.co.uk has refuted these numbers saying that:

If anyone wished for me to send them an image of our analytics then please contact me. Our traffic levels have not changed.

I am pleased to say that our staff and customers are no longer worried. After Search Metrics published some false data I have had to calm fears. Maybe their data is not what they are stating. Check your facts guys.

Doug Scott, MD

Search Metrics explains how they arrived at these numbers and the criteria that was used to arrive at their findings

Despite some possible discrepancies, preliminary evidence shows that the Panda appears to be doing what was intended by attacking low-quality sites and penalizing those that warrant an adjustment of their rankings the most.

If what we saw in the US, in any indication of what is to come, there will undoubtedly be many fluctuations continuing over the next few weeks as the SERPs are reorganized in an attempt to level the playing field for all. The biggest thing to take away from this post is to remember: “Don’t Panic!” …SERPs should settle down soon.

SEO news blog post by @ 6:57 pm


 

 

April 14, 2011

Surviving the Panda-mic

As most of us know, the Panda update launched by Google in the US in February and this week in the UK has cause a lot of confusion, a lot of ranking drops and a lot of people scratching their heads wondering what to do to recover from it.

The Panda was designed to attack sites that spit out and aggregate low-quality content based on the most searched keywords on Google. The update caused a lot of shifts in the search results and helped to remove a lot of spam farms from the first page search results. This was great for publishers who were honestly trying to produce quality content. We also saw many splogs removed from Google’s index and many spun content sites lose their rankings, which in turn increased more legitimate sites up in rankings.

I have put together a few tips for webmasters that may help to offset the effects of the Panda and should help repair the loss in rankings.

  • We know that sites with duplicate content got hammered by the update. Produce only original high-quality, editorial or factual based content.
  • Domain age is important. Do not switch domain names if possible. If you do need to register a new site, then go for keyword specific terms that directly relate to your industry.
  • Google has clearly stated that social media is becoming increasingly important. Sites that were tied to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts fared better.
  • Sites with embedded video content seem to do better

Sometime the best approach is to make the most of a situation. To get the most from the Panda try the following:

  • Install a utilize a blog on your site. Write fresh, quality content at least 2-3 times a week. This causes the Google bots to closely monitor your site for new updates.
  • Add in feeds from your social networking accounts. The more links you get coming in from Facebook, Twitter and other social sites, the better.

For those sites that took a large ranking hit from the Panda, try some of the following recommendations.

  • Don’t ignore you rankings in other popular search engines such as Yahoo and Bing. The ranking drop you experienced in Google should not have affected your ranking elsewhere.
  • Setup a Google Webmaster Tools account and use it to analyze each section of your website. This tool not only helps you analyze and correct problems, but it also gives you a clear indication of the factors that Google is looking at when assessing your site.
  • Study and ensure that your site adheres to Google’s well established quality guidelines.

Once you have completed these steps, and you are certain that you have performed an exhaustive and thorough repair of your site, you can ask Google to take another look at your site for a reconsideration request.

Panda is by far, the largest most far-reaching changes to the algorithm in the last decade. Reports indicate that as much as 16% of all search queries have been affected. By keeping abreast of the guidelines established by Google and employing best practices, you will should be able to recoup your loses and regain your former ranking status.

SEO news blog post by @ 6:44 pm


 

 

April 12, 2011

Google says: “Release the Panda”

Last week we stated that there was some buzz in the Webmaster Help forum from UK webmasters speculating that the Farmer/Panda had been released upon them. It looks as those the people were just experiencing "regular" fluctuations. Google announced yesterday that they have "rolled out this improvement globally to all English-language Google users," such as Google.com, Google UK, Google Australia etc. Thousands of sites were negatively impacted in the US when Google unleashed the Farmer/Panda updates in February of this year.

The main purpose behind the original Panda/Farmer algorithm updates was to directly combat the copious amounts of web spam that have been permeating the SERPs for years. By reducing the amount of low-quality and content-scraped content, the update was intended to let the cream rise to the top through the removal of low quality or offending sites that did not adhere to Google’s quality guidelines.

Google said that the new version of the Panda algorithm is designed to incorporate user feedback signals to help searchers find better results. Google also stated that they will begin factoring in the sites that people block as part of a site’s quality score. "In addition, this change also goes in deeper into the "long tail" of low-quality websites to return higher-quality results where the algorithm might not have been able to make an assessment before." Google stated that the additional updates to the Panda algorithm should only affect approximately 2% of US search queries, whereas the original update effected more than 12% of US queries.

In the press release, Google states that they are getting great feedback from searchers. They are finding better, more relevant results from many great publishers and that are getting more traffic from the original update in February. From the results that we have seen in our corner of the SEO world, we have witnessed many sites dropping significantly with very few regaining their former rankings. It may be a scenario where site owners are hesitant to say that there rankings have improved. Most are still feeling shell-shocked from the effects of the first update and are concerned of what may occur with it’s global implementation.

Google has been fairly forthcoming about what qualifies as a quality site in their webmaster guidelines. Yet in spite of the valiant efforts by many SEOs and webmasters to reach the new status quo, we still see low quality sites ranking well and high quality sites doing poorly after the update; leaving us all feeling a uneasy.

SEO news blog post by @ 7:03 pm


 

 

April 11, 2011

Overstock’s Sales Drop 5%

In the wake of the Farmer and Panda algorithm updates early in the year, Google has publicly penalized several large companies such as JC Penny, Forbes and Overstock for participating in practices that violates the Google Guidelines.

In a story we first told you about on February 24th, "Google Spanks Overstock," it seems that since the penalty was incurred, Overstock has suffered an approximate 5% drop in sales. One can speculate as to the validity of the reported figures, but a 5% drop in sales for a large company like Overstock is certainly more substantial then when compared to a small shop or business incurring a similar penalty.

Overstock.com was penalized for utilizing link exchanges that violated Google’s policies in an effort to effectively game the Google SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). While it is not the only site to incur such penalties, Overstock is certainly one of the biggest name brand stores accused of such tactics.

Overstock allegedly offered 10% discounts to teachers and student in exchange for links on highly searched phrases such as "futon" and "vacuum cleaners" and asked them to embed links in their college and university .edu websites.

Exchanging links for a discount clearly violates the Google’s Guidelines. Google has been very clear that they penalize sites that participate in link schemes.

However, some webmasters engage in link exchange schemes and build partner pages exclusively for the sake of cross-linking; disregarding the quality of the links, the sources, and the long-term impact it will have on their sites.

The fact that Google penalizes for such activities is not new, but the post-update Google seems to be following through on their decision to crack down on webspam by making an example of well known companies such as Overstock, JC Penny and others to considering such unsavory practices.

SEO news blog post by @ 5:35 pm

Categories:Uncategorized

 

 

April 7, 2011

Refuting Debunked SEO Practices

I came across an interesting blog post from ISEdb.com that was titled: "16 SEO Tactics That Will NOT Bring Targeted Google Visitors" where Jill Whalen was discussing strategies that she felt were no longer valid seo tactics. I have reposted some of the points here and have added in my comments on each. Jill’s posts are in green italics.

Individually these tactics amount to very little; on this point I agree. However, add them up together and they become significant to your rankings. Being so absolutely "Google-centric" in your tactics is going to hurt you in the long run. Suppose there was no Google? (scary I know…) then you would have to redesign your sites for other search engines that may put more weight on these signals.

Meta Keywords:

"Lord help us! I thought I was done discussing the ole meta keywords tag in 1999, but today in 2011 I encounter people with websites who still think this is an important SEO tactic. My guess is it’s easier to fill out a keyword meta tag than to do the SEO procedures that do matter. Suffice it to say, the meta keyword tag is completely and utterly useless for SEO purposes when it comes to all the major search engines and it always will be."

There is sufficient evidence to show that Yahoo and Bing do use the keywords tag to help categorize and index pages. Google has been clear that they do not use the meta keywords tag as a ranking factor. The fact of the matter though is that unless it is totally deprecated from the W3C it is still best practice to include the tag. Just don’t expect that it will put you up to number 1 based solely on your use of it. There are many other search engines that are used that may or may not use this tag to index your page. Again this is a case where being too "Google-centric" can harm you in the long run. Ignoring all other search engines, seems irresponsible and is poor business sense.

XML Site Maps or Submitting to Search Engines:

"If your site architecture stinks and important optimized pages are buried too deeply to be easily spidered, an XML site map submitted via Webmaster Tools isn’t going to make them show up in the search results for their targeted keywords. At best it will make Google aware that those pages exist. But if they have no internal or external link popularity to speak of, their existence in the universe is about as important as the existence of the tooth fairy (and she won’t help your pages to rank better in Google either!)."

I agree that proper site architecture is of vital importance to have your pages indexed properly. The fact that Google gives you the ability to upload xml sitemaps through their webmaster tools indicates that it has some import. It can be debated as too how much weight it carries but the clear fact is that anything that helps the bots crawl your page, is not a bad thing.

Link Title Attributes:

"Think that you can simply add descriptive text to your “click here” link’s title attribute? (For example: Click Here.) Think again. Back in the 1990s I too thought these were the bee’s knees. Turns out they are completely ignored by all major search engines. If you use them to make your site more accessible, then that’s great, but just know that they have nothing to do with Google."

This is another case where I don’t necessarily disagree. If the W3C states that best practice is too include the title tag in images, then it should be there. Google has clearly stated time and again that W3C validation IS a ranking factor and as such it makes sense to follow W3C Validation practices. What I do not recommend is using the generic "click here" on your page as this ends up building densities for "click here" which you do not want either.

Header Tags Like H1 or H2:

"This is another area people spend lots of time in, as if these fields were created specifically for SEOs to put keywords into. They weren’t, and they aren’t. They’re simply one way to mark up your website code with headlines. While it’s always a good idea to have great headlines on a site that may or may not use a keyword phrase, whether it’s wrapped in H-whatever tags is of no consequence to your rankings."

This one I absolutely disagree with. These are of significant value, especially when used in conjunction with keywords in the page title, meta description and in the Heading Tags. Google absolutely uses these factors as signals for indexing and determining relevance to search queries….which in turn affect your rankings.

Keyworded Alt Text on Non-clickable Images:

"Thought you were clever to stuff keywords into the alt tag of the image of your pet dog? Think again, Sparky! In most cases, non-clickable image alt tag text isn’t going to provide a boost to your rankings. And it’s especially not going to be helpful if that’s the only place you have those words. (Clickable images are a different story, and the alt text you use for them is in fact a very important way to describe the page that the image is pointing to.)"

While this does not have a direct affect on rankings, it is again part of creating a W3C validated page….which Google uses as a ranking factor. This is also an important consideration in keeping your site accessible to those with visual impairments or using a text based browser.

Keyword-stuffed Content:

"While it’s never been a smart SEO strategy, keyword-stuffed content is even stupider in today’s competitive marketplace. In the 21st century, less is often more when it comes to keywords in your content. In fact, if you’re having trouble ranking for certain phrases that you’ve used a ton of times on the page, rather than adding it just one more time, try removing some instances of it. You may be pleasantly surprised at the results."

Certainly there is a balance to be had. I agree that over doing will cause problems. The best practice is to write valuable, concise content that is not spammy or of low value. Google wants you to write quality content and your readers want clear, valuable content. Doing so should organically place the appropriate amount of keywords within the textual content.

Linking to Google or Other Popular Websites:

"It’s the links pointing to your pages from other sites that help you with SEO, not the pages you’re linking out to. ‘Nuff said."

Again this is another instance, where it may not help your rankings, but if you can serve your visitors better by sending them to an external link then you should do so. It is of paramount importance to provide a quality site experience for your viewers. If you have a great site that serves your visitors well, then rankings will follow.

IMHO, it makes sense as an SEO to employee best practices always. It covers all your bases and will never hurt any of your SEO efforts.

SEO news blog post by @ 9:38 pm


 

 

April 6, 2011

the Power of the Meme & SEO

What is a MEME?

You have probably seen several and may have even used them before without even knowing it. Wikipedia defines a meme as a "unit of social information. It is a relatively newly coined term and identifies ideas or beliefs that are transmitted from one person or group of people to another. The memes can be said to transmit idea and belief information."

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To brush up on some of the currently popular memes, you can check out: knowyourmeme.com. You can create new memes from pop culture references, or revive an existing one by breathing new life into it. A great example of a popular meme that most people have seen is the Antoine Dodson’s Bed Intruder song. This is a great example of using popular media to work for you. Another popular meme is the LOLCatz. This is an example of a meme that has been reused in a unlimited number of iterations.

The term meme has often incorrectly been used to refer to internet fads; even though many internet fads are in fact memes. SEO, in some respects could be considered a meme since you are manipulating the positioning of a website in search engines which also spreads the specific ideas that improved the rankings themselves in the first place. So how can memes be used to improve search engine rankings?

Creating a Successful MEME

For a meme to be of value, you need to think of visitors to your website as "carriers." It is up to the carriers to pick up on the available meme content and spread it for you. The only memes that survive are those that get picked up and spread by those carriers. Carriers can be your website, your visitors, search engines, social media…anything that gets your meme distributed.

In much the same way as a virus attaches to a host and is transmitted through the public, the more people it is exposed to, the more successful the virus is. In this respect, this is how a meme goes "viral" on the internet. Memes don’t have purpose or motivation. Memes spread because of what the carriers do.

MEMES & SEO

Memes should not be thought of as a link building tool per se. More correctly it can be thought of as an effective marketing tool. It is also an effective way to create an online following and a way to build trust between you and your visitors. If the visitor can identify with the meme you are using, it will create an intrinsic value and an amount of "trust."

The meme can reinforce that the visitor is on a site they can relate to, or that the site has a certain amount of social relevance pertaining to them. Moreover, a successful meme builds up social popularity and will increase the time spent on site for people visiting to see your meme. In this context, a meme can be akin to "viral marketing."

A meme is a self-replicating idea and as such, means that it only works when it is copied and shared with others. By its very definition, a meme cannot exist in only one place; meaning that your website will not be the exclusive carrier of the idea. So how can a site benefit if the ideas/memes are allowed to spread without keeping ownership of them?

When you are recognized as the source of the meme, the very act of people sharing it benefits you the most. Every new Google search regarding the meme should bring a new visitor to your site. This is because searchers tend to gravitate towards the source of the information. Give the meme a very distinctive name and spend time optimizing your site to rank for those keywords in the meme before distributing it.

Being the creator of a popular meme is always best. The closer you are to the originating source of the meme, the better as viewers like to link to the originating source. Memes can encourage links, visits and increase mentions of your site through the use of social networking.

Memes take time to spread. Making use of popular social networking sites will help to promote your meme. Use Facebook to share it with friends and to recruit followers. Uploading your meme to sites like imgur.com and reddit.com is a great way to help it go viral. You can use these sites as a test bed for the potential success of the meme by tracking viewer’s comments and reactions to it. Also watch for the number of views your meme receives and the number of upvotes it gets.

SEO news blog post by @ 4:54 pm


 

 

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