Why Is My Mobile-Friendly Label Missing in Google Search Results?

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Why Is My Mobile-Friendly Label Missing in Google Search Results? was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

As the April 21st deadline to make your site mobile-friendly approaches, many sites are checking to see if their pages get the “mobile-friendly” annotation in Google mobile search results. Those two words are Google’s promise to searchers that a result meets a certain standard of usability that mobile surfers are starting to expect.

What’s concerning is that sometimes the label doesn’t show up — even though Google’s own Mobile-Friendly Test declares “Awesome! This page is mobile-friendly.” In working with clients and through research, we’ve uncovered little-discussed reasons why a mobile-friendly annotation may not show up despite a page’s being fully optimized for mobile browsing.

First, here’s what you’d hope and expect would happen if you’re running a website today. Step one, you work to make your pages mobile-friendly by checking your mobile usability report in Google Webmaster Tools and remedying any issues flagged there. Then you run your URLs through Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to confirm: “Awesome! This page is mobile-friendly.” Finally, you query Google on your smartphone to see your page in the results with a happy little note that the result is mobile-friendly, like this:

mobile SERP for "happy"

A happy Google mobile results page with plenty of “mobile-friendly” annotations. :)

When Mobile-Friendly Annotation Is Missing

We’ve worked hard with multiple clients to make their sites mobile-friendly, only to find that ecommerce category and subcategory pages are frequently not showing the mobile-friendly annotation. Where you’d hope to see a mobile-friendly annotation, these listings have annotations only for the number of product pages or “results.” Yet these pages pass the Mobile-Friendly Test and have no mobile usability errors in Google Webmaster Tools.

For example, below is a screenshot of the Google mobile results for “camping tents.” The Coleman.com camping tents category page gets an annotation “Results 1 – 8 of 8” rather than a mobile-friendly annotation, as the REI.com result does below it:

Google mobile results for camping tents

In a Google mobile SERP for the query “camping tents,” some results get the mobile-friendly annotation while other results show the number of products on the page.

You might think the first page isn’t mobile-friendly, but it is:

coleman-mobile-friendly-test

The results of a Google Mobile-Friendly Test for the tents category page on Coleman.com. (Click to enlarge.)

This issue with the missing mobile-friendly annotation is happening on many category type pages with product listings. Interestingly, this doesn’t seem to be an issue with product review information, where both rating reviews and the mobile-friendly label are displayed.

Another example we can point to is the Target.com mobile site. A search for “target coffee makers” shows the store’s coffee makers page without the mobile-friendly annotation:

coffeemaker-mobile-results

A mobile SERP listing for Target’s mobile site shows the number of results on the page rather than the mobile-friendly annotation.

But this page does pass as mobile-friendly on the Mobile-Friendly Test. Again, the “Results 1 – #” annotation is shown where “mobile-friendly” might instead.

So What’s Happening?

Earlier this week we got word that Maile Ohye from the Google Developer Programs team points to on-page markup as the cause of the issue — including pagination for results, as seen on the example pages shared in this post.

From Grant’s comment on a StoneTemple.com post highlighting the missing annotations, it looks like pagination markup, video thumbnail markup and “jump to app” markup get priority over the mobile-friendly annotation. Under the current order of annotation priorities, SEOs and site owners scrambling to make their sites mobile-friendly may not be getting the full benefit of their efforts. Let’s hope that the talks behind Google’s closed doors do ultimately result in a reordering of the annotations displayed.

Have you seen any problems with the mobile-friendly label not appearing in Google SERPs? Would you rather Google prioritize the mobile-friendly annotation over other labels? Let us know in the comments below.

April 16th 2015 Google, SEO

How To Increase Conversions Of Your Inbound SEO Leads

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Earlier this year, I conducted a survey of around 120 digital marketing consultants to understand the kind of leads they were seeking for their business. Not surprisingly, nearly 70% of the respondents had more than 25% of their leads coming from online search. Beyond these organic leads, Adwords, word of mouth referrals and content marketing were all extremely popular marketing channels to secure inbound leads for business.

Inbound lead generation is often regarded a better alternative to cold calling and cold-emailing. This is because the leads that you receive are from targeted prospects who are looking to hire a marketing agency. On the other hand, cold calling requires experience with sales and is often a numbers’ game.

However, such inbound leads are not as easy to convert as they appear to be. For one, prospects looking to hire a consultant seldom send out feelers to just one company. They often fill out enquiry forms on multiple websites that they come across on Google. This way, it is not only easy to evaluate the various bidders, but thanks to competitive bidding, they can often extract a sweet deal. As a marketing agency, you have to hence compete with other providers for the client, although it is technically an inbound query.

So how do you convert these leads better? Here are a few tips to remember.

Always capture phone numbers

Your customers are spoiled for choice today thanks to the internet. But even today, a number of marketing agencies do not bother displaying a lead generation form on their website and simply wait for the prospect to call them for appointment. Prospects do not call up agencies as much as they used to. The onus is on the agency to call the prospect and fix an appointment. So the first thing to do is display an enquiry form and gathering the prospect’s phone number.

Call back immediately

Think of this from the perspective of the prospect. They have just realized that their website needs work and they are spending a lot of time evaluating various providers to identify good agencies to work with. If you call them back the instant you received an enquiry, you are likely to catch them at the very moment they are seeking an agency. Waiting for it to be business hours or getting back “within 24-48 hours” is not really something that a prospect wants.

Set up appointments to discuss audit reports

One reason why agencies take the cliched ’2-4 working days’ to respond to enquiries is in order to thoroughly study the prospect’s website and provide them with useful inputs while talking to them. While this is noble by intent, it does not help converting clients. Instead, the strategy that works is to call the prospect immediately after receiving an enquiry and asking for an appointment date. This way, you can demonstrate to the lead that you can be trusted and is “always available”. Also, setting up an appointment ensures that the prospect does not go ahead and finalize another agency before they talk to you.

Discuss face-to-face whenever possible

The points mentioned above are not “strategies’ in the sense that they are the bare-minimum that an agency must do in order to be seen at least as qualifiable as the rest of the agencies that the prospect is talking to. For higher conversions, you must however walk the extra mile and see if you can set up a face-to-face meeting. Nothing establishes credibility and trust like a physical meeting does. In doing so, you shall be able to establish a personal rapport with the prospect; something that other agencies may not have. This typically helps with raising your conversion rates. However, do realize that this is only helpful if the expenses in meeting prospects justifies the project costs.

Do you rely on inbound leads for your SEO business? What tips do you have for fellow marketers looking to increase their lead conversion rates?

The post How To Increase Conversions Of Your Inbound SEO Leads appeared first on SEO Chat.

April 11th 2015 Google, SEO

How is your site’s SEO doing?

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How is your site's SEO doingOne question we get quite often in our website reviews is whether we can help people recover from the drop they noticed in their rankings or traffic. A lot of the times, this is a legitimate drop and people were actually in a bit of trouble. However, more often than not there wasn’t anything wrong with either the traffic or the rankings.

So today I’ll be explaining where you should and should not be looking when checking whether your site is doing well or not.

My traffic dropped!

We’ve seen quite a few clients who claimed to see a drop in their traffic. On investigation, we could not find any such drop anywhere. When checking your traffic, there’s only one place you need to go: Google Analytics. I don’t really trust any other tool to give me the right analytics or data.

However, Google Analytics isn’t that straightforward, so let me tell you where to look, when looking for a drop due to bad SEO. When looking at overall traffic related to SEO, this is the most important place you need to check (read this post for a more info on SEO in Google Analytics); the Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels section:

Channels Google Analytics

This will give you a line chart of your site’s total traffic as well as a complete overview of this traffic divided into different “channels”. A channel is basically a couple of sources (where your visitors come from) grouped into one. So any traffic from either Bing, Google, Yahoo, Yandex or any other search engine will be combined in the channel “Organic Search”. Any traffic from Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. will be combined in the channel “Social”.

Do you see a drop in the line chart this metric gives you? If not, you’re probably doing fine. If you are, don’t panic just yet. There are a few things you can do to make sure this drop is actually related to SEO.

Organic Search

Google Analytics gives you the ability to see just the traffic from search engines. There are two ways of doing this. The first is probably the easiest: you just click “Organic Search” in the list:

Channels_-_Google_Analytics

You’ll now get a line chart and statistics from just this channel. This can be useful, but it also makes it impossible to compare the traffic from this channel with traffic from other channels. So my personal preference is to select the checkbox before the traffic channel I want to view and then click that “Plot Rows” button at the top. This will give you a second line in the line chart, like this:

So the blue line is the total traffic, and the orange line is the traffic from search engines. As you can see, there are some spikes in our total traffic that have nothing to do with our traffic from search engines. So they don’t have anything to do with SEO efforts on our part. These spikes actually came from newsletters and social media.

And it works the same way the other way around: you might have a drop in traffic that has nothing to do with your SEO efforts. Something could’ve gone wrong in your social media, or maybe your newsletter wound up in everyone’s spam folder. So always check for the source of the drop, before blaming it on bad SEO.

Check the right timeframe and period

As you can see in the above screenshot, the graph is set to one point per day and covers a timeframe of about 1,5 month. This is fine if your traffic is steady. However, if your business (and thus your traffic) is more seasonal, this might not be the best timeframe. Put it up to a year or half a year so you can see if your traffic is actually lower than usual around that time.

Also, if your timeframe includes the current month, day or week, please be aware that the last point in your line graph will always be lower. You see the same thing happening in the last screenshot; the last point drops off. This is not because our traffic dropped, this is simply because the last point is today, and today is still not finished and will accumulate a lot more traffic. The same thing goes for weeks and months.

My ranking dropped!

This one is a bit harder to check, unfortunately. The thing is, Google has personalized search. So what shows up for you when you search a specific keyword won’t show up for me. The results are based on your personal browsing behavior and a lot more which I won’t go into here.

We’ve had clients stating they were already ranking #1 for everything they wanted. This can actually happen if you google yourself a lot and only click through to your own site. Long story short, it’s pretty hard to use Google to find out how your rankings are doing. Of course, using Google in a private browser session can give you some indication. In fact, most tools aren’t much more than that; an indication.

PageRank

A lot of people still cling to the idea of Google PageRank. However, this doesn’t mean anything. Google has deprecated the entire thing as far back as 2009. Google always tried to encourage people to look at other metrics such as Google Analytics. These simply give you far more insight into how your site’s doing.

So simply put: a drop or rise in Google PageRank doesn’t mean your rankings have dropped or risen. It doesn’t really mean anything.

Ranking trackers

At Yoast, we’re not fan of ranking trackers which give you a very general idea of how your ranking is doing. It doesn’t matter what number website you are in the world compared to all other websites, it matters how you’re doing in your field of work.

Another issue these trackers have is they track all your rankings. This won’t be an issue for everyone, but for us it means that our rankings fluctuate a lot. The cause for this is that we rank well for the term “Google Analytics”. These rankings tend to fluctuate quite a bit and there’s a lot of searching going on for these terms. So every time we drop or rise a bit, the rankings in these trackers shoot up or down as well, even though the users weren’t looking for us.

These tools can give a general indication, but should not be used as anything other than that.

Google Webmaster Tools

Google Webmaster Tools (GWT) is one of the tools that I would recommend using to check how your site’s doing. We explained GWT in detail a few weeks ago, but I’ll just quickly show you where to find the most important metrics:

Webmaster Tools Search Queries https yoast com

The Search Queries section shows you how many impressions your site has had and how many clicks resulted from those impressions. An impression is every time your website shows up in the search results the user is looking at. If either of these metrics is going down, you’ll know something is up. Obviously play with the timeframe here as well, so you know for sure it’s not a temporary drop.

Next is the Index Status section:

Webmaster Tools Index Status https yoast com

This metric will show you how many pages are actually indexed in Google. This is obviously an important metric as well, so a steady or rising line is what you’re looking for. If this line is dropping (without you having disallowed pages, for example), this is definitely something to look into.

Conclusion

When you want to check your site’s SEO yourself, I recommend only paying attention to Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools. Other tools are fine for giving a general idea or indication, but nothing more than that. Be sure to check the things I’ve told you to check so you know for sure it’s an SEO problem. Of course, you could also order a Website Review and have us analyze your website for you ;)

Do you think I’ve missed anything here? Or do you just have some more questions? Let me know in the comments!

This post first appeared as How is your site’s SEO doing? on Yoast. Whoopity Doo!

April 10th 2015 Google, SEO, SEO Tools

Search Share: JackThreads

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Clothes

Image from: JackThreads / Shutterstock

For this Search Share feature piece we will analyze search marketing data for JackThreads.com. In a previous analysis and blog post of the online men’s retailer, we found that the website was very successful in attracting, retaining, and getting its visitors to interact over the past few months. Now we will do another deep dive into the site’s digital presence with search share analysis, which is particularly important for a company that only operates on the digital platform.

The Process

We will take the top 100 search referrals, which are the keywords or phrases that lead search engine traffic to the website JackThreads.com, and upload them into the Search Share feature in Compete PRO. Once uploaded, the Search Share feature will provide information on SEO and SEM success with paid and natural share and rate information over the past 4 weeks to tell a story about JackThreads’ performance against its competitors.

Nonbranded Clicks

Keep in mind that this list of search referrals includes the terms or keywords that are driving the most traffic to JackThreads, and it is a mix of branded and nonbranded terms. The branded keywords consisted of terms like “jackthreads” or “jack threads” that are extremely specific to the site. But a lot of keywords were nonbranded terms like “men’s fashion,” and “cheap clothes for men.” Why is this important? It can show how JackThreads compares against its competitors. If JackThreads comes in the top 10 clicks for nonbranded terms then it probably has a successful SEO or SEM strategy and people are finding it through searches for “men’s fashion,” and “cheap clothes for men”- which are relatively accurate to what the company portrays itself as.

JackThreads.com lands 5th on the brand paid clicks for this list of keywords, with 1.8% share of total paid clicks. This means that for the terms on this list, around 2 in every 100 paid clicks go to JackThreads.com. This speaks a lot to the success of its paid search strategy relative to its competitors. However, JackThreads does have some clear competition.

Oldnavy.com was one competitor on the list of top 10 brand paid clicks. It had 11.2% of the paid share, significantly more than JackThreads. In other words, when people search for “men’s fashion” they are more likely to click on an ad for Old Navy than JackThreads. This means that Old Navy most likely bids on similar keywords and is successful at attracting more clicks. The clothing stores do operate in relatively similar spaces, but Old Navy is a much larger company that has established brand strength, unlike the fairly new JackThreads.

Brand Paid Clicks

Final Thoughts

Much like my conclusion in the last post on JackThreads, things are definitely exciting for the website. It is still relatively young, but most signs look positive. It will be interesting to see if JackThreads continues to build up its brand and how that will impact search marketing results. If you want to see how your search marketing stacks up against the competition, check out Compete PRO.

April 10th 2015 Search, sem, SEO

Search operators

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Search OperatorYes, you want to rank first in Google. And yes, you think you have optimized a site for that. But have you ever been playing with Google to see how your site is doing? Probably not, but let’s do that right now.

Have you ever used search operators in your Google queries? Search operators are parameters to narrow down your search results. It’s an ‘extra’ to add to your search query. Let me illustrate that by giving you some examples of search operators we frequently use while reviewing a website.

The site: search operator

“I’m using your plugin, but my site still isn’t indexed in Google.” If only we got a penny for every support email that starts like that. You can easily check if your site is in Google or not, by using this search operator:
site:yoast.com

Yes, our website is indexed. Now there are a number of reasons why you are not ranking very well, but your site definitely is in Google. Now let’s take that to the next level and see if the right page is ranking for that keyword we want to rank for:
site:yoast.com WordPress SEO plugin

The result:

Using a search operator to find the best ranking page

Using a search operator to find the best ranking page

Nailed it. What do you need to look for in these search results?

  • Is your homepage ranking first? Unless you searched for your brand name, you probably want to set up a cornerstone page for the keyword and make that one rank first.
  • Is the page you expected to rank first not ranking first? Compare that page to the page tha is ranking first. What does the WordPress SEO Page Analysis tell you? Perhaps you’ll also find that the other page has a lot more backlinks. That might be a reason to further optimize the currently ranking page instead, for instance.
  • Is a taxonomy page ranking first? That could make sense, with all the post linking to that category or tag page. But is that page optimized? Do you think it qualifies as the main page for the topic? Does it have a nice introduction or just the post excerpts? If not, please read WordPress Archive Pages: the tutorial.

The intitle: search operator

I like this search operator. You can check just about anything with it. Let’s start with open directories. I always really dislike ending up on an Explorer like folder overview. These pages shouldn’t be indexed in the first place. A simple check for your own website is:
intitle:"Index of"

I used the double quotes just to make sure the exact phrase is found. If you want to take that a step further, you could even make it intitle:"Index of" Last Modified, which searches for Last Modified on any page that has Index of in the title.

If we combine both search operators, we can narrow this down to our own site:
site:yoast.com intitle:"Index of /" Last Modified

Pfiew, no open directories indexed.

The inurl: search operator

Have you ever wondered what these WordPress attachment pages are for? It’s a bit like automatically generated thin content for your website. We advise against using these, and even have an option to prevent these in our WordPress SEO plugin. Just go to SEO › Advanced › Permalink (tab) and check “Redirect attachment URL’s to parent post URL.” This will make sure that any visitor that ends on a specific attachment page, is redirected to the page where the (f.i.) image is used. Just make sure all images are attached / uploaded to a certain page or post. That can be easily checked by visiting your media library and enabling the Uploaded to column at Screen options.

Back to the inurl search operator. That one comes in handy when you want to check if any of these attachment pages is indexed. The thing is, that every attachment page URL has ‘attachment_id’ in it. The search query we are looking for is obviously:
inurl:attachement_id

Note that I skipped a number of results, as the first results on that query are WordPress.org pages telling us we have these pages and what they do. Not much :) Find these on your site using a combination with the site: search operator and make sure to redirect them to the parent posts and pages they are used on.

Your turn

That’s just three of a number of search operators that are available. Use these to your advantage. Looking forward to any creative uses you have found for these search operators. Please share them in our comments!

This post first appeared as Search operators on Yoast. Whoopity Doo!

April 9th 2015 Google, SEO

Introducing SEOToolSet Lite: A Free SEO Tools Suite

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Introducing SEOToolSet Lite: A Free SEO Tools Suite was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

You may have heard of the SEOToolSet®. SEOs have been using it for technical and organic search engine optimization since 1997.

But have you heard of the free SEOToolSet — SEOToolSet Lite?

In March we rolled out the newest generation of the SEOToolSet, built from the ground up and full of new tools our SEO analysts asked for and vetted. SEOToolSet 6 has two tiers — Lite and Pro, and today we want to introduce you to the tools available to you for free in SEOToolSet Lite. There’s no credit card required to sign up for SEOToolSet Lite, and there’s no software to download. Just create a username and password, supply an email, and get instant access to four diagnostic tools for a single website project.

About the Tools in SEOToolSet Lite

Here are the tools you can use on your website project for free in SEOToolSet Lite.

1. The Single Page Analyzer (SPA) is the most used tool in the SEOToolSet and has been historically because our analysts and subscribers find it to be the most comprehensive on-page content analysis tool on the market. The full-featured version of this powerful content analysis tool is now available for free with the release of SEOToolSet 6. The SPA thoroughly analyzes the on-page optimization of your web pages and HTML files, one at a time. It’s an excellent tool if you’re looking to analyze keyword usage and distribution; the strength of meta tags, headings and anchor text; content readability; potential cloaking issues; and much more.

SEOToolSet Single Page Analyzer tool

Run the Single Page Analyzer on your URL or your competitor’s and you’ll get reporting of keyword use, tags present, cloaking in place, links to a page, readability analysis, and a visualization of keywords on the page seen as a topographical map. Click to enlarge.

 

Here’s one new feature of SPA in SEOToolSet 6. Within the Single Page Analyzer you’ll find a content score that helps you gauge the quality, accessibility, and optimization of your content, benchmark a starting point, and measure improvement.

SEOToolSet Lite Content Score tool

Click to enlarge.

 

2. A Link Graph that can expose the strength or weakness of your website’s internal linking, organization and silo structure in a visual diagram. Plug in a URL of your website and see the web of links that follow from that page to make sure you’re strategically linking within themes and linking to your site’s key pages.

SEOToolSet Lite Link Graph tool

Click to enlarge.

 

3. A Meta Details report that lets you analyze all the titles, meta tags, H1 tags and canonical tags used throughout your website in one place.

SEOToolSet Lite Meta Details tool

Click to enlarge.

 

4. A Site Checker that analyzes your server header, checks for user-agent cloaking, looks for follows and redirects, and exposes technical performance issues. In the Site Checker report you will also see your robots.txt file displayed. This technical SEO tool can be referenced during routine site maintenance checks, or used to examine the health of your competitor’s website during the competitive research process.

SEOToolSet Lite Site Checker tool

Click to enlarge.

 

 

New Project Dashboard

Also included in the SEOToolSet Lite suite is an intuitive dashboard that shows recent project activity, and allows multiple users to contribute to projects through the single interface. For both SEOToolSet Lite and Pro, projects allow for an unlimited number of users.

SEOToolSet Lite project dashboard

Click to enlarge.

 

How to Access the Tools

Accessing the SEOToolSet Lite suite of tools is an easy process. Sign up for SEOToolSet Lite with your email address and log in. Once in your SEOToolSet Lite account, you’ll be asked to start a new project. Your project is the primary website you would like to analyze.

SEOToolSet Lite Project List

Click to enlarge.

 

With your project created, you’re ready to start using the keyword research, site analysis, and page analysis tools! With a free Lite account, you will only be allowed to work with one project at a time, but you will be able to analyze an unlimited number of your own web pages, and the web pages of your competitors, using the Single Page Analyzer tool and the other tools in SEOToolSet Lite.

SEOToolSet Lite Suite Interface

Click to enlarge.

 

Want More Power Tools?

The SEOToolSet is a suite of optimization tools created by SEOs for SEOs — and SEOToolSet Lite is the tip of the iceberg. Try SEOToolSet Lite for free, then if you like what you see in SEOToolSet Lite, check out our full professional tool suite designed for the needs of our own SEO analysts, SEOToolSet Pro.

Learn more by comparing the features of SEOToolSet Lite and Pro or dive right in to try SEOToolSet lite hands-on for free. There’s no credit card required, no software to download and no strings attached.

Happy optimizing!

April 8th 2015 SEO

Smart Alternatives to Dangerous Link Building Strategies

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Last December, we wrote about all the things that you should take in account when cleaning up bad backlinks. We asked Christoph at LinkResearchTools to check all of the information in there to make sure we were not missing anything.
When going over that post, we felt that we should elaborate on the subject of link building on our website, although link building is not the same (trade) as website optimization. And that is why we are pleased to present you with this post Christoph wrote for you.

In this article, you will find practical tips and smart alternatives to dangerous link building strategies.

Link building today: “Sweat plus creativity”

Smart Alternatives to Dangerous Link Building StrategiesBefore the first Google Penguin update in 2012, people just wanted to build as many links as possible, using any available means. In the Penguin era the focus has shifted to white hat SEO; building trusted and powerful links. Is this easy? Of course it’s not!

Building high quality links is no easy job. As Matt Cutts said (SMX, June 2014) it’s possible to do white hat SEO, but this takes “Sweat plus creativity”. All of a sudden link building stopped being an easy thing to do, because Google’s search algorithm grew more complex, easily detecting any attempts of manipulation.

Avoiding dangerous link building strategies and understanding how you can build links the right way is really important if you want to keep your position top in the search engines.

Industrial “Penguin Proof” link building. Really?

There are hundreds of thousands of agencies that offer link building services. It’s cheap, it’s fast, you don’t have to struggle at all and they often claim that the links they build overnight are “Penguin proof”. It looks like you found the perfect deal. What else could you wish for? It sounds too good to be true and most probably, it is.

Quantity is not quality and a link building strategy that doesn’t add value to anyone is something that Google calls spam:

“Any links intended to manipulate PageRank or a site’s ranking in Google search results may be considered part of a link scheme and a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. This includes any behavior that manipulates links to your site or outgoing links from your site.”

Bad link building strategies and smart alternatives

1. Buying or selling links

Google clearly states that buying backlinks to improve your rankings is against their webmaster quality guidelines. They see links as votes and it’s not ethical to pay for votes. Links bought from sites that openly state that they sell links, are your ticket to a Google Penalty!

Smart solution
Focus on links in high quality content, to high quality content
Instead of buying links, you can invest in creating high quality content that will attract natural backlinks. Taking this approach doesn’t cost you more than buying a bunch of bad links, and you can ultimately achieve much better results, it just requires more patience, “sweat plus creativity”.

The secret to success is placing a link inside high quality content and making sure it leads to high quality content.

Here’s what Google says about links and content:

“The best way to get other sites to create high-quality, relevant links to yours is to create unique, relevant content that can naturally gain popularity in the Internet community. Creating good content pays off: Links are usually editorial votes given by choice, and the more useful content you have, the greater the chances someone else will find that content valuable to their readers and link to it.”

If you want a risk-free approach to SEO then don’t buy links. If you ever bought some, get rid of them now!

2. Excessive link exchanges

Exchanging links with people you know just for the sake of cross-linking will negatively impact your website’s ranking in search results. Here is an example of how reciprocal linking can go wrong: You have a website about legal services and you link to a bakery and have that bakery website link to you, then you may have just created a worthless link. Imagine that you continue by linking to coffee shops, clothing stores, computer repair businesses, garden equipment and so on and they all link back to you. This reciprocal link exchange may cause Google to penalize your website.

Smart solution
As long as reciprocal linking is not done excessively and these links make sense and are relevant to the users of both websites, there is nothing to worry about.

If the website of a Court Office links to a legal website and the legal website has a link to the Court Office, this link is not harmful. It may not have great value for boosting a website’s ranking, but it surely provides value to the users of both websites.

3. Massive article marketing or guest posting campaigns with keyword-rich anchor text links

Focus on natural anchor textIt’s great that people write about you and link back to your website, but just as long as they create links in a natural way. Stuffing the anchor text with money keywords is far from natural and will surely get you in trouble.

Smart solution
Using brand keywords or navigational phrases is a good option in this case. Obsessing about money anchor text is wrong. It’s important to have anchor texts that are relevant to your website, but keep in mind that using money keywords as anchor text for all your inbound links is a bad practice and it may put you on Google’s blacklist.

4. Adding links to any link directory

Adding your site to any web directory just to get a backlink will have a negative effect on your website’s ranking. Most web directories out there provide no real value to the Internet users and Google has excluded them from its search results. You don’t want your website to be in there!

Smart solution
Search for trusted directories. There are a few for every niche. These directories provide useful information to you, your target audience and your potential customers.

The new PageRank is relevancy, therefore building links in niche directories and directories belonging to informative websites relevant for your industry are beneficial for you.

5. Optimized links placed in unhelpful forum or blog comments

Participating in forum discussions and adding random comments to any blog out there, overusing money keywords in your anchor texts is completely wrong and spammy.

Smart solution
Participate in an active discussion on a forum or blog that is relevant to your business and make sure that your comment provides contextual value to the discussion. Now you don’t have to worry about sharing a relevant link.

6. Web directory listings

Adding your site to any web directory just to get a backlink will have a negative effect on your website’s ranking. Most directories provide no real value to the Internet users and Google has excluded them from its search results. Again, you don’t want your website to be in there.

Smart solution
There are some good directories that also provide useful information for you and your potential customers and are closely related to your industry.

For example a business web directory that specializes in legal services and lists lawyers all over the world. With listings organized by practice area and location, this would be a place that would help a user find the best lawyer for their case.

At the same time the directory can contain a knowledge database with the most recent legal updates in the world. This web directory is both valuable for people that need a lawyer and for lawyers themselves.

In conclusion

Real link building is no easy job. Creating great links takes a lot of time and requires effort, but building links that create value for both your users and the Web is what great link building is all about.

This year I revisited my 7 Golden Rules of Link Building, first presented to the world at the A4UExpo 2009 in Amsterdam.

A lot has changed in SEO and Link Building since then and looking at the rules in the light of the Google quality guidelines in 2015, I was surprised how well they still match the requirements today!

Never buy backlinks! They will only hurt your website.  Focus on people, focus on value and spend your SEO budget wisely.

High Quality Content and Natural Anchor Text images used with permission of LinkResearchTools.

This post first appeared as Smart Alternatives to Dangerous Link Building Strategies on Yoast. Whoopity Doo!

April 2nd 2015 SEO

Intro to Search Engine Optimisation: Auckland Workshop

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google-keyFor the past several years, I’ve been running digital marketing training workshops in conjunction with the Institute of IT Professionals (IITP) here in New Zealand.

Our first round of workshops for 2015 kick off this month, with the first topic for the year being Introduction to Search Engine Optimisation.

These full-day training workshops will show you step-by-step how to optimise your or your clients’ web sites to get noticed by Google and other engines. It will be a fun day, with some group activities, random audience questions for chocolate and (if time permits), live analysis of the web sites of willing attendees.

Whether you’re an IT manager, marketer, programmer, website coordinator or business owner, getting well placed for your key terms on search engines is hugely valuable and important.

At the end of the course attendees will be able to:

  • Understand how Google and other search engines rank pages.
  • Understand what makes a web page search engine compatible.
  • Understand what type of content search engines love.
  • Research and select appropriate keywords to target.
  • Successfully integrate search keywords within web site copy.
  • Create effective and optimised web pages.
  • Learn why social media can improve their search rankings.
  • Monitor their search positions and report meaningful data to stake holders.

Below are the details and booking links for Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch events, so please share with anyone you know who might benefit from attending:

Introduction to Search Engine Optimisation – Auckland
Date: 20 April 2015
Time: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Venue: CBD Office
Executive Boardroom
Level 4, 17 Albert Street
Auckland City

Introduction to Search Engine Optimisation – Wellington
Date: 21 July 2015
Time: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Venue: NZICA
Meeting Room 4
Level 7, Tower Building
50 Customhouse Quay
Wellington

Introduction to Search Engine Optimisation – Christchurch
Date: 26 October 2015
Time: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Venue: Airport Gateway Motor Lodge
45 Roydvale Ave
Burnside
Christchurch

Thanks for your support.

 

April 2nd 2015 SEO

7 SEO-Boosting Tactics You Might Be Neglecting

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by Jayson DeMers

When thinking about SEO, it’s tempting to concentrate on what’s occurring behind-the-scenes and neglect better ways to increase exposure. Whether you’re directly dealing with SEO or looking to compliment your existing SEO presence with tactics for additional exposure, it’s important to continually focus on developing and growing your digital marketing strategy. 

On-Page vs. Off-Page SEO Factors
When you look at SEO, it’s important to understand the difference between on-page and off-page factors. While these two groups work together for the greater good of increasing rankings and driving traffic, they’re unique ventures. According to this handy infographic that divides SEO success factors into a periodic table design, on-page elements refer to content, HTML, and site architecture, while off-page elements include links, trust, social, and personal
On-page factors. When the average marketer or amateur thinks about SEO, things like keywords, HTML structure, meta descriptions, headlines, site speed, and crawlability come to mind. These are the on-page factors and are very important; however, you can’t forget about off-page elements.
Off-page factors. These are largely related to brand awareness and exposure and include things like backlinks, site and brand authority, social reputation and shares, and geographical location. 
Being successful at SEO and maximizing exposure requires you to pay attention to both sets of factors.
7 Ways to Boost and Enhance SEO Efforts
With the goal of enhancing brand awareness and SEO prowess in mind, let’s take a look at some of the best SEO-boosting tips to pursue: 
1. Produce high-level content. The number one tip is obviously to produce high-level content. What that means is writing content that satisfies both human readers and the search engines. When you’re able to do this, you can affect both on-page elements like content quality and keyword relevancy, as well as enhance off-page elements like authority, trust, and identity. While you never want to let keywords dictate your entire content strategy, it can be helpful to start with a group of relevant terms and use those niches as launching points for more in-depth content. 
2. Craft sleek landing pages. If you’re not tapping into the power of custom landing pages, you’re missing out. They provide a great opportunity for driving targeted traffic to your website and building trust with a specific audience. Thanks to user-friendly tools and plugins, even those with little design experience can craft sleek, high-converting pages. The goal for landing pages is to keep the message brief, while using relevant content and interactive elements to engage with readers. 
3. Earn quality links. Authoritative backlinks have always been an important off-page factor for SEO. While purchasing links can lead you down a slippery slope, investing in highly relevant guest blogging opportunities and industry partnerships can allow you to enhance brand awareness and increase exposure over an extended period of time. In addition to guest blogging, there are plenty of other ways to earn backlinks. These include joining and participating in blogging communities, answering questions in message boards and social communities, linking to your blog in forum signatures, commenting on other blogs in order to build a reputation or enhance thought leadership, and more. 
4. Target long-tail search queries. The competitive nature of SEO and Google’s affinity towards semantic search means long-tail keywords are more important than ever. Instead of focusing on basic two or three word search queries, identify very specific four, five, or six-plus word terms. Not only will this help you enhance your rankings, but it also attracts more relevant traffic.
5. Prepare for mobile audiences. It’s no surprise that local mobile traffic will become increasingly important in the coming months and years. This point is further solidified by Google’s recent focus on rewarding mobile-friendly sites in the search results. In order to satisfy the demands of varying devices, the best SEO investment you can make is transitioning to responsive design. 
6. Invest in rigorous A/B testing. The only way to truly know if your on-page SEO strategies are working is to invest in A/B testing. In fact, you should rigorously approach A/B testing and begin analyzing anything and everything you can get your hands on. With dozens of feature-rich, cost-effective testing software solutions available, there’s no reason not to.
7. Build a loyal social following. Anyone who tells you social media and SEO are completely independent isn’t telling you the truth. Social networks like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest help you enhance awareness, attract valuable backlinks, increase shares, and grow trust. In fact, it’s arguably one of the most important off-page factors. 
Developing a Balanced Strategy
Whether you’re looking to attract more leads, increase conversions, boost search rankings or enhance overall brand awareness, these seven tips can get you closer to where you need to be. As you move forward in 2015 and beyond, focus on a balanced approach that keeps both on-page and off-page factors in mind.

Be sure and visit our small business news site.

Oh, the Challenges SEO Tools Can Solve – Announcing SEOToolSet 6

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Oh, the Challenges SEO Tools Can Solve – Announcing SEOToolSet 6 was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

SEOToolSet user

The SEOToolSet® is a suite of organic optimization tools built by SEOs, for SEOs. We created these SEO tools to help us do our jobs better and we hope, in turn, they can help you do your job better, too.

Today we’re launching SEOToolSet 6, the sixth generation of our tools. From the first-ever web page analysis program that Bruce Clay himself wrote in 1997 until now, our SEO software has always had a singular goal: Give SEOs the tools they need to increase a website’s visibility in search.

The SEOToolSet is unique because it focuses entirely on search engine optimization. These tools are for advanced SEOs and marketers who want exportable, in-depth data and presentation-quality reports regarding on-page and off-page optimization. We say the SEOToolSet is “the deepest dive into SEO data available on the market.” These tools help solve the challenges SEOs face every day.

I sat down with our SEO analysts to find out what I should say here to get you as excited about the usefulness of these tools as we are. To get you acquainted with how we’re using the SEOToolSet every day to serve our clients, we came up with three challenges to spotlight. There are so many more power tools in SEOToolSet 6, consider this merely a taste of what’s offered for the advanced SEO.

  • Challenge 1: Prove SEO progress with reports that monitor objective rankings.
  • Challenge 2: Figure out what’s “natural” among top-ranked competitors.
  • Challenge 3: Efficiently find missing meta tags, duplicate titles, and problems with canonical elements.

Challenge 1: Prove SEO progress with reports that monitor objective rankings

SEO is a long-range proposition. It can take a long time to see results, and clients or bosses (depending on who writes your paycheck) can grow impatient waiting for results. While webmaster tools and analytics can show you traffic increases and revenue growth, it’s helpful to have a way to monitor your site’s rise to prominence in the search engine results pages (SERPs) in an objective way.

Solution: The Ranking Monitor

The Ranking Monitor is one of the SEOToolSet’s most powerful tools. Using authorized APIs, the monitor grabs unbiased, non-personalized rankings for lists of keywords — across Google, Yahoo and Bing and for dozens of markets around the world. Because we want to see for ourselves whether pages are moving up or down the SERPs, we built the monitor to run on a schedule, store historical ranking data to watch progress over time, and also keep track of competitor rankings to use for research or comparison.

The data can be exported as CSV (to work in Excel). We also output print-quality Domain Ranking reports to send regularly to our SEO services clients, showing ranking changes either by market, page, keyword or competitor.

View unbiased rankings by market, page or keyword in the SEOToolSet Domain Ranking Report

What’s new and cool about Ranking Monitor reports: Whenever some hotshot new competitor comes onto your radar, the Ranking Monitor in Version 6 lets you add the new competitor along with its past rankings for your keywords retroactively. So even though you just realized they’re a threat, you can include their history in your stored competitor data as if you’ve been watching them all along.

Track competitors retroactively with the SEOToolSet Competitor Ranking Report

Click to enlarge.

 

Challenge 2: Figure out what’s “natural” among top-ranked competitors

On-page optimization requires understanding what the search engines find most relevant. It would be easy if there were hard and fast rules to follow, but every keyword query waves the starting flag for a SERP contest that’s unique unto itself. To know how to best optimize a web page, SEOs have to look at the sites that are ranking to see what Google is currently rewarding.

This is not so easy, either. No one can stare at a web page and mathematically figure out its word count, frequently used words, keyword placement, content reading level and so on. Moreover, to find what’s natural among all the top-ranked sites, you’d have to do this analysis across many pages. We need SEO tools for this kind of thing from beginning to end.

Solution: The Multi Page Analyzer

SEOToolSet 6 lets you discover what’s natural for a keyword in three quick steps:

  1. Pull up the unbiased top-ranking web pages for any keyword or phrase using the Research Summary tool.
  2. Choose the pages you want to analyze (the top five are checked by default, but you can select any you want).
  3. Run the Multi Page Analyzer tool to see data about each of the top-ranked sites as well as combined statistics.

The statistical recommendations reveal where the sweet spot is for all kinds of on-page attributes, including the average length and keyword usage in the title, meta tags, heading, alt attributes and overall body section, as well as the average content reading level, among the top-ranked sites.

See recommended lengths for on-page elements and keyword usage in the SEOToolSet Multi Page Analyzer

Click to enlarge.

 

What’s cool and new in the MPA: This SEO report was improved in Version 6 to handle more URLs — not just 5, but 10, 15 or as many as you want! The ability to analyze many competing pages at once can make the resulting information extra accurate.

Challenge 3: Efficiently find missing meta tags, duplicate titles, and canonical elements

Our SEO analysts wanted a way to quickly look throughout a website to find missing or incorrect elements — pages with no title, meta description, or Heading 1, for example. The SEOs also asked for a way to search for any snippet of text to find where it appears in meta information sitewide, to avoid duplication. And for ecommerce sites and others, they needed a way to review canonical link elements and locate inconsistencies.

Solution: SEOToolSet 6’s proprietary site spider

The site spider crawls a website automatically, just as the search engines do. For SEOToolSet Pro subscribers, that gives you almost complete crawl data for your site — down to five clicks deep. The various reports produced by the site spider are custom-designed to give SEOs their dream data.

One of those dream reports, called the Meta Details tool, lets you:

  • Sort by any column so you can easily identify missing or duplicated titles, meta descriptions, meta keywords, Heading 1 tags, URLs or canonical elements.
  • Search for text in any of these important page elements sitewide.
  • Export the data as CSV.
Sort pages found in a site crawl by any attribute using the SEOToolSet Meta Details Tool

Click to enlarge.

 

What’s exciting and new: The rich data that the site spider collects fuels some other power tools, as well. One is the new Link Graph, which has all of our analysts buzzing. This tool lets you see the site’s linking strategy as an interactive, visual link map. Use this to confirm your site’s link architecture and siloing strategy at a glance.

SEOToolSet Link Graph

Click to enlarge.

 

Ready to try some new SEO tools?

I hope you’ve seen enough to know that these tools are created by SEOs, so they might work to solve some of your challenges, too. There are many more tools than the few I’ve sampled in this article. An SEOToolSet Pro subscription also includes tools and reports for link analysis, keyword research, competitor research and technical site errors, to name a few.

It’s easy and risk-free to sign up for SEOToolSet Pro. I encourage you to try these power tools out on your own site. If you decide you don’t need this much data, cancel within 30 days and we’ll refund your subscription fee entirely. After that, you pay as you go. For $89/month you can run two website projects with an unlimited number of users. If you need to optimize more sites, additional projects cost just $30/month per website. And you can cancel your subscription to our SEO power tools anytime.

Want more details? See our SEOToolSet Features page. Then try it out and let me know what you think.

March 31st 2015 SEO, SEO Tools