The Long-Anticipated Real-Time Penguin Is Live

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The Long-Anticipated Real-Time Penguin Is Live was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

Editor’s note: We’re updating this post as we get more news and comments.

Big news in the world of search this morning. Google released a major update to its link analyzing algorithm, Penguin, today. This latest update is the long-anticipated upgrade that will help sites previously penalized by Penguin get out from under the SEO shadow of spammy paid links.


If you’re an SEO services or penalty assessment client of Bruce Clay, Inc., expect to hear from your analyst with a Penguin Update impact report ASAP.


The announcement was made by Google Webmaster Trends Analyst Gary Illyes this morning on the Google Webmaster Blog.

As the fourth significant enhancement since its initial launch in 2012, Penguin 4.0’s most noteworthy upgrades include:

  1. Real-time data refreshes as part of the core ranking algorithm and
  2. A more granular approach to the way it filters spam.

Bruce Clay, Inc.’s VP Duane Forrester‘s response to the Penguin update? “About time! But now the real work for many begins. Those working hard on managing their link profiles or cleaning up old link building programs have reason to be optimistic. Those thinking old tactics will still work are about to fall on hard times.”

What a Real-Time Update Means

“With this change, Penguin’s data is refreshed in real time, so changes will be visible much faster, typically taking effect shortly after we recrawl and reindex a page,” writes Illyes.

With real-time data refreshes, Penguin becomes part of Google’s core algorithm, which “also means we’re not going to comment on future refreshes.”

We turned to Duane again for comment: “A real-time factoring of link quality into the mix means as soon as they see it, they decide. Everything is on the fly, so it’s the algo at work here, making the call on good, bad and ugly as it sees links. If you’re still thinking buying links works, you’d better be careful. Those days are behind us.”

What a Granular Filter Means

In his blog post, Illyes writes: “Penguin is now more granular. Penguin now devalues spam by adjusting ranking based on spam signals, rather than affecting ranking of the whole site.”

SEO industry news outlet Search Engine Land requested further comment from Google on what “granular” means in this context.

Previously, Penguin was a sitewide penalty. So, does being “more granular” mean that it’s now page-specific? Yes and no, it seems. We asked Google for more clarity about this, and we were told: “It means it affects finer granularity than sites. It does not mean it only affects pages.”

More Answers on the Penguin Update

Illyes took to Twitter to answer SEOs’ questions about the latest Penguin update.

On how many pages are affected by the Penguin Update:

On whether the roll-out of Penguin is complete:

On how manual actions are now handled:

Stay tuned as we learn more on how Penguin 4.0 is affecting our clients’ sites.

September 24th 2016 SEO

Your Blog with an Eye on the Needed SEO (Right from the Start)

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We all know that we need to pay attention to SEO (search engine optimization) whether we are experts or not (or whether we want to be experts or not!). So, how do we start a new blog, equipped with the needed SEO foundations, without losing our head or losing our enjoyment of creating the blog?

Let’s discuss that!

A blog is one of the most powerful digital marketing tools you have at your disposal, but only if you know how to reach your target audience. Blogging is one of the quickest ways to increase your following and build your brand.

Even though there are millions of blogs online, it’s easy to make yours stand out even in the midst of the competition. In fact, even if you are like me and already have quite a few blogs online, that doesn’t mean that you cannot venture out and create yet another unique and brilliant blog!

We could probably sit down and list all of the fun aspects of the creation of that new blog, especially if it is one for which we feel passion. However, if no one is listening, it can get a bit lonely, eh? That is why it is so important to ensure that we are getting the word out, or more accurately, that we are drawing traffic to our blog, so that we have that audience.

By having that audience, it can help us to grow our passion even more and that will come out in the quality of the content that we produce on our blog. What is one of the most foundational aspects to growing that audience? It is ensuring that our blog is SEO optimized, right out of the starting gate.

Ok, have I really told you something that you don’t already know? After all, that is likely one of the reasons that you visit seochat.com, eh?

Ok, back to our topic… we can always “get the word out” at intermittent, strategic, and/or consistent intervals (preferably), but if we don’t start with a blog that has the basics, when it comes to SEO, we have a lot more work ahead of us. And, who wants to work when we can be producing content with all that brilliant passion, instead?

So, let’s get it started correctly, eh? In other words, it is easier to work “smart” than to work “hard,” right?

Getting Started… First Steps

Getting your blog up and running is much easier than one may think. In less than 30 minutes, you can have your blog up and running. So, without further adieu, let’s have a look and see how we can set up a blog in a few quick steps. Then, we will come back and talk a bit more about that SEO.

Choosing a Platform or Approach

Deciding where you want to create your blog is step one. If you are looking to save money, WordPress.com is an option. By far, it’s the largest blogging platform in the world, with an endless array of plugins and add-ons. You pretty much have an infinite amount of choices when it comes to designing your blog. There is also an option to host a WordPress installation in a self-hosted environment.

To Host or Not to Host (Also, To Register or Not to Register… a Domain)

Before we go any further, you need to decide whether you want to self-host or go with a free alternative. While there are pros and cons of both options, take note that with a free service, you won’t be able to have your own domain name.

If you are just blogging for fun, that’s okay, but for businesses trying to make a name for themselves, it is much better to go with a paid service where you can “own” your domain. (Technically, you are registering a domain name and leasing it, but many times people confuse that with ownership and it is called “owning” a domain, in slang terms.)

Along with SEO, this (“owning of the domain”) can increase website traffic by leaps and bounds. You see, having your own domain establishes your brand and your credibility. It helps to build trust in your business.

Design Your Blog

Designing the blog is where you get to choose your theme. Before jumping in with both feet, think about your business and what type of vibe you want people to get when visiting your blog. While creativity is key, you want to make sure whichever theme you choose goes hand in hand with your product and/or the service you will provide.

Even if the service is “only” the delivery of content (no shame in that!), it is still a service and the delivery of the product of your digital content. So, keep that in mind when deciding what you want your site to look like.

For an excellent in-depth discussion of these topics, visit this article on setting up your blog: “How to Start a Blog.” Then, come back here and we will continue our discussion on getting those SEO foundational blocks in place.

SEO is King

After you have set up your blog and brainstormed some ideas of what you want to blog about, it’s time to hone in on SEO. Remember, we are still putting together the framework for our search engine optimization foundation even as we build our blog (site), so this is just the right time to do it, remember?

Like we said earlier, SEO is what brings visitors to your blog. It is what keeps the conversation going. It is essential to your success as a blogger, as a publisher of digital content.

Due to the fact that every blog post you write actually becomes a web page, you need to make the most of the SEO opportunity. Write about keyword-rich topics that you would search for online if you were a consumer. SEO is far more than a few strategically placed words throughout your blog.

It is a matter of knowing which words to use, and when. It is also a case of knowing why these keywords and keyword phrases work so well (in drawing traffic). Now, use that knowledge!

The Successful Strategy and Use of Keywords

When used properly, keywords (and keyword phrases) should have the following characteristics:

  • They are only used a handful of times in your post. Overkill of keywords will only have your post flagged as spam by Google.
  • They flow naturally throughout the conversation of the blog post.
  • They are a combination of several words or a single word that directly relates to what you are blogging about in that post (or series of posts).

Continuing Your Success

In the world of online marketing, your focus needs to be on developing a relationship with your visitors. Proper and strategic use of SEO can get the traffic to the site, but you also need to ensure that you keep your audience combing back to the blog/site for more brilliant and entertaining digital content.

This is done through your effective relationship-building process and keeping the conversation going. That is why a well-written blog combined with strategically placed keywords, combined with that personality of YOU, will help build your online reputation and over time, increase traffic to your website. It is like a well-oiled circle. Then again, who oils circles?

The post Your Blog with an Eye on the Needed SEO (Right from the Start) appeared first on SEO Chat.

September 21st 2016 blogging, Keywords, SEO

Possible Google Mobile Update Causes Widespread Drop In Rankings

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Few things can cause such a stir in the SEO world as a significant change in Google rankings, not least because such changes are so unusual. However, this is exactly what many commentators are reporting to have happened on 1st or 2nd September 2016. But what exactly has happened, and what does it mean for SEO professionals and businesses that rely heavily on their online traffic?

Was there a Google update?

While Google has not commented definitively, many experts are convinced that two different updates took place around the date in question.

The most significant was thought to be around core web search. A number of threads sprang into life on Twitter and other fora discussing significant changes in ranking, with sites seeing shifts of more than 100 places up or down from specific keyword searches.

The second issue was around local Google rankings, where similar SEO discussions reported the biggest change to local rankings that had been seen in a long time.

Google has not confirmed that any update took place at all, and this in itself is causing further debate within the general search community. What is certain is that something caused some significant changes to rankings and that it was seen across all industries and verticals.

Or was it something else? Ask Google!

If it was not an update, then what else could have caused this phenomenon?

Three days after all the excitement, Google reported that a system error dropped all Search Analytics data from 01 September to 06 September. But while some experts were still forming the words “That explains it!” others were quick to point out that this issue could not be related to the fluctuations in rankings.

Google also confirmed categorically that the rumoured update was not Penguin related. Google’s John Mueller stated on both YouTube and Twitter that Google is constantly updating, but that in terms of any update on 1st or 2nd September, Penguin could definitely be “ruled out” – the penguin is sleeping!

How much does it matter anyway?

While the updates, non-updates or system errors have provided plenty of fuel for speculation, some in the community feel that the whole thing is a non-issue.

Marketing professional and online commentator Larry Madill noted that the majority of Search Engine Results Page (SERP) results that he monitors returned close to their previous positions after a few days.

He felt that the incident followed a familiar pattern that he had seen many times before following an update (whether acknowledged as such or not). The phenomenon he reported was that the SERPS “get tossed around for about four days then slowly go back to normal.”

Bizarrely, Madill noted that it was the larger names in retail that took the biggest hits from the phenomenon, with companies such as Home Depot and Amazon losing several places on two significant SERPs.

This has led to some giving the phenomenon the nickname “The Big Brand Update.”

The only thing that is known for certain is that chatter was still rife long after the effects had all but disappeared.

The post Possible Google Mobile Update Causes Widespread Drop In Rankings appeared first on SEO Chat.

September 14th 2016 SEO

Why You Don’t Need that Link to Get the SEO Benefit from an Online Name Drop: The Power of Linkless Mentions

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Why You Don’t Need that Link to Get the SEO Benefit from an Online Name Drop: The Power of Linkless Mentions was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

We talk a lot about links in the SEO industry.

Here we’re going to talk about the absence of links.

How a mention without a link is good for SEO.

What is linkless attribution?

Linkless attribution is the mention of your business or brand without a hyperlink. An instance of linkless attribution is sometimes called a linkless mention.

Links have proven an easy target for spammers. Search engines have made efforts to break the dependence on links as a ranking signal.

The diverse set of clues the engines use to determine a site’s E-A-T (expertise, authority, trust) and relevance include a lot more than links:

  • Links
  • Domain/page age
  • Freshness
  • Relevancy
  • Social signals
  • Traffic volume
  • Usefulness
  • History
  • Internal linking
  • Mentions

Examples of linkless mentions include:

  • A brand or business named in a news story without a link
  • A brand or business mentioned in a review
  • Consumers in forums or blog comments
  • Podcast and video transcripts

Mentions of your business or brand, even mentions without links, can send signals to search engines. If the mention is positive, good for you. If it is negative, pay attention in case you have an issue to clean up.

And let’s be clear here. I’m not talking about spam mentions. None of that shady stuff. Comment spam is not transferring credibility to your business. Search engines likely use the same quality assessment filters on linkless mentions as they do hyperlinks.

Why Linkless Mentions Are New-Era SEO #Goals: It’s about the Customer Touchpoint

Since the search engines’ crackdown on manipulative link spam, SEOs have adjusted strategy.

Links have always been the means to an end. When Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin published “The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Search Engine,” they cited links as providing “a lot of information for making relevance judgments and quality filtering.” Calculating link popularity via PageRank, they argued, “corresponds well with people’s subjective idea of importance.”

That’s a long way to say: The end goal of the search engine is to accurately judge the pages people think are important.

Linking to a business is just one thing people do when we think a business is important. Primarily we talk about the business. Enter mentions.

Gary Illyes’s top piece of simple SEO advice is to get people talking about your business:

“You want to make sure that people know about your website. You want to talk to people about your website. (…) The more people start talking about your business, the more visitors you get and potentially more customers. And they’ll also be more targeted.”

He’s talking about the value of people mentioning you in reviews and in social media.

Here’s another quotable. David Amerland sums it up when he says that people’s comments “help create validation independent of your own website.” Yes and yes.

In similar realms, linkless mentions share a border with the land of nofollow links; neither counts for link juice, and they have similar benefits. A mention is just more subtle than a nofollow link.

Here’s a snip from The Blogger’s Guide to Nofollow Links:

It’s no secret: Word-of-mouth marketing is one of the most important forms of marketing there is.

And the majority of word-of-mouth marketing on the internet is done through nofollow links.

I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to fear the nofollow link or the linkless mention.

The True Value of PR for SEO & Customer Reach

Years ago, using press releases to drive links and boost rankings became a popular SEO work item. Its merit is debated even today. Businesses were built around providing press releases for link building and SEO boost, and the practice still has a dedicated following today.

Search engines devalued links in press releases, but the value of PR is still huge.

Done correctly, a well-designed and executed PR program can yield the exact results you think you seek.

But what if, after all your care and diligence, that article doesn’t drop a link? What if the publisher only links to paying sites (a common practice with the popular big names these days)? What if they just mentioned your name once or twice in the article? No URL, no domain and no link … Was it all for naught?

Relax. There’s still plenty of value in a linkless mention.

All that effort you put into crafting the plan, executing it, reaching out to the right people, answering the questions and so on … it all still helps you.

The next step for anyone reading about you in an article, when there is no link, is to search for you. If they are interested, they’ll search.

Now brand search comes into play for you. How well you rank for your products plays a role at this stage. All those past efforts to improve rank now come into play to secure that new visitor.

Then your UX plays a role to converting them into a customer.

Then your email program steps in to help keep them coming back for more over time.

All of that because you got the mention in an article.

But the benefits don’t end there. If the brand is searched enough, it can become an addition to the predictive search drop-down, potentially furthering engagement.

If the product is new or unique, the same action can happen. These can work to cement your position in rankings if searchers are finding you and clicking through to you.

When you take off the link blinders, you remember to pay attention to marking up your content or products, allowing the engines to start using your content in knowledge panels, including rating data and so on.

The truth is that with repeated, non-linked mentions across multiple trustworthy sources, your business can see benefits.

You might not see direct traffic from sources mentioning you, but the longer term benefits can easily outweigh the short-term traffic bumps.

Linkless mentions are a long-term investment that spreads your name far and wide. The engines can see this happening, and they’ll wonder why your brand or product is becoming more important. Then they start testing you in results to see if you please searchers.

That’s the ultimate goal. Pleasing the consumer. The engine wins and so does the business.


Want to explore how our experts can help with your SEO goals? Request a conversation or call us today.


 

September 2nd 2016 SEO

5 Strategies for Better Team Coordination in SEO

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by Jayson DeMers

When most entrepreneurs and marketers think about refining their SEO strategies, they focus on the conventional best practices that constitute a successful optimization approach, such as their on-site optimization, ongoing content marketing strategy, and link building campaign.

However, there are also more collaborative, qualitative, and personal factors to weigh when it comes to execution of your campaign. For example, how can you make sure every member of your team stays coordinated with the rest in their mutual efforts to optimize your site?

Why Coordination Is Essential in SEO

Depending on the size of your organization, SEO could theoretically be executed by a single person. In a small business, building a foundation with on-site optimization, content, and an introductory link-building campaign could be handled by a single person doing full-time work.
But it’s more common to see several people working together in close coordination to achieve exceptional results on behalf of a firm. That coordination could make or break your campaign in the following ways:

  • Deadlines and execution. First, the obvious: SEO is an interconnected series of tactics, and if you’re going to execute them in conjunction with other people to achieve a final goal, you need everyone to work on the same interim deadlines and benchmark goals.
  • Cross-disciplinary coordination. Even if you don’t have both generalists and specialists in the SEO field working together, your SEO will still be influenced by people in multiple departments. For example, your designers will need to know how to design websites with SEO in mind.
  • Camaraderie and workload balancing. It also pays to keep your SEO team working close with one another so everyone maintains high morale. This will be beneficial when one specialist inevitably gets saddled with more work than another: You can bring the departments together to rebalance the individual workloads.

How to Stay Better Coordinated

Now let’s take a look at how you can help your team become better coordinated in practical terms.

1. Use more efficient forms of communication.

Modern technology offers a ton of advantages, and you need leverage as many of them as you can for your team. As pointed out by Dialpad, millennial workers tend to be closer to the cutting edge of new communications technology, but that doesn’t mean the rest of your team has an excuse to stick with older technologies. Whether you’re using an in-house team or some members are working remotely, give yourself flexibility by keeping your team using multiple forms of communication, from phones to cloud-hosted management and collaboration platforms, and chatting apps.

2. Set both individual and team goals.

Focused teams are able to work more productively because they know what they’re aiming for. It’s crucial to establish both individual and team-based goals. For example, you might encourage your entire team to work toward a certain rate of growth in organic visitors, with individual goals for your team members, such as getting featured on a number of new publishers or developing a certain kind of content. This will help keep things moving toward a destination while compensating for any individual weaknesses you encounter.

3. Identify and document consistent brand standards.

Some areas of SEO get pretty technical, but much of the ongoing work–such as content development and guest posting–will rely on the strength and consistency of your brand to succeed. Because of this, it’s a good idea to document your brand standards formally and make those available to everyone on your team.

4. Have overflow policies.

An oversized workload can depress anyone; when one individual has too much to do and another not enough, your team can’t possibly function efficiently. To avoid this potential hitch, it’s a good idea to have overflow and workload balancing policies in place. For example, you could encourage your team to openly admit when they have too much on their plate and have a line of delegation in place to coordinate task reallocation efforts.

5. Cross-train your workers.

Every member of your team, both in the SEO department and in surrounding sections, will have an area of specialty. But it’s worth making the effort to cross-train everyone on what all (or at least some of) the rest are doing. This approach allows outside workers to step in and take over the tasks of others (and thereby assist your workload-balancing efforts). It also keeps each worker abreast of what the others are doing and leads to a heightened sense of group awareness and focus on team goals.

Together, these strategies can help your team remain in closer coordination, and working harder on the goals that will drive your business forward.

You’ll also need to be prepared for a degree of difficulty; it’s never easy to coordinate an entire team of differently minded and differently skilled people, so you’re bound to run into difficulties trying to keep everything and everyone together. Try to remain as adaptable as possible.

Be sure and visit our small business news site.

August 25th 2016 Search Engine Optimization, SEO

Google To Lower Mobile Search Ranking of Sites with Interstitials

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Google announced that on January 10, 2017 they are going to lower the mobile search ranking of sites with interstitial ads popping up in front of content. This is something that many mobile searchers will applaud and many publishers will not be too happy about.

“To improve the mobile search experience, after January 10, 2017, pages where content is not easily accessible to a user on the transition from the mobile search results may not rank as highly,” posted Google Product Manager Doantam Phan . “Pages that show intrusive interstitials provide a poorer experience to users than other pages where content is immediately accessible. This can be problematic on mobile devices where screens are often smaller.”

People have become very upset over intrusive popups on mobile devices because it significantly degrades the user experience. “I can’t stand all this stuff popping up on my phone,” commented Bonnie Akridge. “I wish they would get rid of it all. Much of what I read is already mobile friendly but I get the question box do I want to switch to mobile friendly. All this crap is so flipping annoying. I didn’t sign up for this and I hate it being force on me.”

An internet marketer had a somewhat different reaction. “I’ve always hated those popups that come up and block the page (especially on mobile),” stated S. Kyle Davis. “Now it seems that Google has made the use of “interstitials” a ranking point. Good to hear! Of course, any time Google does something like this, the opposite reaction is that it is making things harder for advertisers (thus making it harder for content producers to make money and continue producing content). However, I always hope that it pushes us to find better, less obtrusive and more effective ways to communicate paid messages to audiences.”

Although this initially applies to only mobile search rankings, its a reasonable prediction that Google will extend this to desktop rankings as well in the future, effectively killing interstitial and popup advertising on the internet.

“Although the majority of pages now have text and content on the page that is readable without zooming, we’ve recently seen many examples where these pages show intrusive interstitials to users,” says Phan. “While the underlying content is present on the page and available to be indexed by Google, content may be visually obscured by an interstitial. This can frustrate users because they are unable to easily access the content that they were expecting when they tapped on the search result.”

Google specifically does not want sites to show a popup that covers the main content either immediately or delayed, they don’t want any ads that have to be closed by the user and they consider large top ads to be effectively the same as an interstitial. So they are going to penalize sites where ads dominate above the fold space.

Screen Shot 2016-08-24 at 12.51.41 PM

They did offer exceptions where they won’t rank lower sites with interstitials that are a response to a legal obligation such as age verification, are part of a login process or small top banners.

Screen Shot 2016-08-24 at 12.52.29 PM

“Remember, this new signal is just one of hundreds of signals that are used in ranking,” said Phan. “The intent of the search query is still a very strong signal, so a page may still rank highly if it has great, relevant content.”

The post Google To Lower Mobile Search Ranking of Sites with Interstitials appeared first on WebProNews.

August 25th 2016 Google, Search, SEO

How to Properly Implement a 301 Redirect

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How to Properly Implement a 301 Redirect was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

What is a 301 redirect?

A 301 redirect is a command used to tell the search engines that a page has permanently moved, and that you want them to index the new page and drop the old one from their index.

Think of it as a change of address card for the web. As long as everything is done correctly, a 301 redirect will ensure that you keep the rankings earned by the old page and prevent duplicate content that could arise if the engines were to index both versions of your site.

Read on for information about:

How to Implement 301 Redirects Using .htaccess for Apache

Make sure you have access to your server and your Apache configuration file, and that you can use your .htaccess files. The ability to use .htaccess files will reside in a command called “Allow Override” in the Apache config file. If you do not have this access, you’ll have to first call your hosting company and get access.

Once you know that you have access to this file, your next step is to locate it. The .htaccess file is a control file that allows server configuration changes on a per-directory basis. It controls that directory and all of the subdirectories contained within. In most cases, this file will be placed in the root web folder for your site. If there’s no .htaccess file present, create one.

To begin using the .htaccess file to redirect page(s) on your site, open up your FTP and log in to your site. Work your way into in the root web folder in order to access your .htaccess file.

(Note: The dot in .htaccess makes it a hidden file, so make sure your FTP browser is enabled to view hidden files.)

When you start editing the file, use a UNIX style text editor rather than Notepad. Typically, an HTML editor or code editor such as TextPad works just fine. To 301 redirect pages using the .htaccess file, you will add a line to the file that tells the server what to do.

To 301 Redirect a Page:

RedirectPermanent /old-file.html http://www.domain.com/new-file.html

To 301 Redirect an Entire Domain:

RedirectPermanent / http://www.new-domain.com/

Once you have inserted the commands to 301 redirect your pages, you need to make sure that there is a blank line at the end of the file. Your server will read the .htaccess file line by line, which means at some point you’ll need to throw it an “endline” character to signify that you’re finished. An easy way to do this is to put a blank line at the bottom of the file.

How to Do a 301 Redirect Using IIS on a Microsoft Windows Server

Navigate your way to Internet Information Services (IIS) Manager, which is found with Administrative Tools within the Start menu. From there, you will find a panel on the left-hand side that lists all your sites. Choose the site you want to work on.

Once you select it, several modules come up. Verify the URL Rewrite module is present. If it is not, you can install it here.

Once you have it, double-click to open the module. On the right-hand side, you will see an option to Add Rules. Click it and then select Blank Rule under the Inbound Rules section. Hit OK. This will take you to an Edit Inbound Rule page. Type a name for the rule, such as Old Domain Redirect or Old Page Redirect.

Go to the Match URL Panel. Set the requested URL at “Matches the Pattern” and then Using as Regular Expressions. Now you will specify if you’re redirecting a single page, a group of pages, or an entire domain:

  • To redirect a single page, type in the page name under Pattern. For example, if we were redirecting this blog post, we would input blog/how-to-properly-implement-a-301-redirect/ in the Pattern field.
  • To redirect the entire site, we would input (.*) in the Pattern field.
  • To redirect all the pages on BruceClay.com within the SEO folder, we would input seo/(.*)

Make sure “ignore case” is checked.

Skip down to the action panel and select Redirect within the Action Type drop-down menu. In the Action Properties, type in the new URL. If it’s a single page, input the single page. If it’s the entire domain or a group of pages, type the new destination with a back reference, which is {R:0}. The back reference will keep all page URLs intact with the new domain.

For example, if we were changing BruceClay.com to BCI.com, we would input http://www.bci.com/{R:0}

If you use tracking parameters and you want them to carry through, check Append Query String.

In the Redirect type field, select Permanent (301).

Click Apply at the top right in the Actions column to save the redirect.

(If you want to review the redirect, hit back to rules in the Actions column.)

After you save this redirect, the rules you created are saved into the web.config file, which you can edit in the future.

Alternative Methods to Implement a 301 Redirect

If you don’t have access to your .htaccess file or your Windows Server Administration Panel, you can still implement 301 redirects with code on your old pages. If your pages are in PHP, ASP, Java, or any other language that allows you to modify response headers, simply place code at the top of each page to do the permanent redirect.


Redirecting pages is just ONE skill an SEO has to know. At BCI, we help clients with not just the how-tos, but also the strategy questions they need to optimize their online revenue. Want to explore how we can help you? Request a conversation or call us today.


Why You Might Need to Implement a 301 Redirect

There are many times a 301 redirect makes sense. Here are a few of the most common:

  • You’re changing your entire root domain.
  • You want to reorganize pages by changing or removing a directory.
  • Let’s say CNN posted a link to this blog post, but the URL was incorrect. We’d still want to capture the traffic that is going to a 404 page. So we’d put in a 301 redirect to direct users from the bad link to the right URL.
  • You want a vanity URL.

Note: If you’re concerned you might lose PageRank through a redirect, know that any fluctuations will be temporary. Google Webmaster Trends Analyst Gary Illyes recently gave this assurance:


Have any questions about implementing a 301 redirect? Ask us in the comments and we’ll be happy to help you.

This post, originally written in 2007 by Lisa Barone, is among our most-visited blog posts of all time, so we keep it up-to-date and accurate. Thanks for visiting, and hope it helps!

August 19th 2016 SEO

Changes in Google Ranking Factors – 2016

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What is and isn’t a ranking factor in search? Here are the latest thoughts by industry experts on search ranking factors and particularly Google Ranking Factors as they are in 2016.

Content & Links Are the Two Most Important Ranking Signals

Eric Enge noted in a post that he participated in a Hangout with Google’s Andrey Lippatsev, Search Quality Senior Strategist, who was asked about the top 3 ranking signals, noting that RankBrain was announced as the third most important. “I can tell you what they are. It’s content and links going into your site,” answered Lippatesev.

“When you aren’t facing page relevance or quality issues, links can, and do, continue to significantly impact rankings.” said Enge.

“Backlinks remain an extremely important Google ranking factor,” said Brian Dean founder of Backlinko in a recent blog post on Google Ranking Factors. “We found the number of domains linking to a page correlated with rankings more than any other factor.” Read more on the Backlinko Ranking Study at the end of this article.

RankBrain – Third Most Important Factor

Danny Sullivan of SearchEngineLand wrote an interesting piece on how RankBrain has now become the third most important ranking factor behind content and links. According to a report onBackChannel RankBrain is being used on almost ALL search queries helping determine the most relevant results and their order:

Google is characteristically fuzzy on exactly how it improves search (something to do with the long tail? Better interpretation of ambiguous requests?) but Jeff Dean says that RankBrain is “involved in every query,” and affects the actual rankings “probably not in every query but in a lot of queries.” What’s more, it’s hugely effective. Of the hundreds of “signals” Google search uses when it calculates its rankings (a signal might be the user’s geographical location, or whether the headline on a page matches the text in the query), RankBrain is now rated as the third most useful.

 
Click-Through Rate (CTR) is Not a Ranking Factor

“I think we can establish that CTR is not a direct ranking signal for Google. At the same time, it can have an indirect effect,” said Eric Enge in a recent video (below) they posted on their marketing website Stone Temple Consulting. “Lots of people clicking on a certain result might indicate a real interest in it, and that might mean it’s a better result than the result above it. Notice I said might there. That will be important later. Anyway, many people have assumed that search engines like Google would use such a signal, of course, bouncing it off against other signals that it uses in ranking.”

So with that answer, one wonders why isn’t then CTR a ranking signal? Primarily because Google has told us they don’t, commented Enge. He noted that it’s simply too easy to game and that it doesn’t necessarily mean the user was satisfied with the result. Google uses it internally for studying search behavior but it is not a ranking signal. He provided this chart in a recent blog post. Enge wrote another article about CTR as a (non) ranking factor here.

Screen Shot 2016-07-27 at 10.24.57 AM

Google Confirms 301, 302, 3xx redirects Do Not Lose PageRank Value

“30x redirects don’t lose PageRank anymore,” Google’s Gary Illyes said in a tweet yesterday. Eric Enge asked Illyes in a Twitter reply if the redirects are “not even a dampening factor?” Illyes replied, “@stonetemple for PageRank, no.” Barry Schwartz of Search Engine Land has more.

Local Business Ranking Factors

2016 Quantitative Local Search Ranking Factors Study: If you want your business to rank better in local search results, focus on building popularity for your business, as the results of the study indicate that business popularity seems to outweigh all other factors, most importantly in the form of reviews and quality backlinks to your site. Google Review and Profile View are by far the two most important local business ranking factors.

Dan Leibson, Vice President of Local & Product at Local SEO Guide, made a presentation on this study at SMX Advanced 2016:

Mobile-Friendliness – a Ranking Signal on Mobile Searches

Last year, we started using mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal on mobile searches,” said Klemen Kloboves, a software engineer at Google, in a Google Webmaster blog post. “Today we’re announcing that beginning in May, we’ll start rolling out an update to mobile search results that increases the effect of the ranking signal to help our users find even more pages that are relevant and mobile-friendly.”

Google Now Ranks Mobile Page Speed Separately

Jennifer Slegg of The SEM Post noted that Illyes mention of this at Search Marketing Summit Sydney was the first time that Google confirmed that it indeed plans to make page speed a factor in its next mobile friendly update. Illyes told Jennnifer that the update will be in a matter of months. Illyes has been hinting at mobile friendly sites ranking higher for months.

Google Updates Search Quality Guidelines

“We recently completed a major revision of our rater guidelines to adapt to this mobile world, recognizing that people use search differently when they carry internet-connected devices with them all the time,” said Mimi Underwood, Sr. Program Manager of Google Search Growth & Analysis. “You can find that update here (PDF).”

More Causes for Lower Ranking

Enge also says that there are other factors contributing to less appearance of a site on the first page of a Google search result, which is in effect a lower ranking:

  1. More real estate allocated to paid search
  2. More content from other sources, such as image search, YouTube, and the other factors I mentioned above
  3. Some pages that have less than 10 web results
  4. Portions of the web results that are clearly less driven by links, such as local web, query deserves diversity, and in-depth article results

Backlinko Study

The Backlinko Study is unbelievably helpful in understanding all ranking factors, not just the new ones that happened in 2016. Backlinko analyzed 1 million Google search results to answer the question: Which factors correlate with first page search engine rankings?

Backlinko identified 11 main ranking factors that I’ve summarized below:

  1. Backlinks are still the number one factor in determining search ranking.
  2. Site Authority correlates to ranking.
  3. Tightly focused content ranks better.
  4. Longer content ranks higher.
  5. Sites using HTTPS do better than equal sites using HTTP.
  6. Schema markup doesn’t help.
  7. An image in content raises ranking.
  8. Small correlation with title tag keyword optimization and ranking.
  9. Speed is now a huge ranking signal. It matters a lot.
  10. Exact match anchor text has a strong influence.
  11. Low bounce rate  improves ranking.

The post Changes in Google Ranking Factors – 2016 appeared first on WebProNews.

July 28th 2016 Search, SEO

Advanced Search Operators for Yahoo, Bing and Google

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Advanced Search Operators for Yahoo, Bing and Google was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

When you search, do you find exactly what you’re looking for the first time?

Have you ever used advanced search filters to find everything the engine knows about a specific subject or website, efficiently?

If not, it’s time to raise your search skills. Search like a robot ninja with search engine operators.

advanced search operators social image

Advanced Search Engine Operators

Digital and search marketing professionals (aka ninjas) routinely use search operators to filter results from the search engine (aka robots). Search ninja skills are useful for wrangling the robot when:

  • Researching a site you’re optimizing.
  • Locating something specific online.
  • And investigating the competitive field.

What are search operators? A prefix or addition to a query in Google, Bing or Yahoo that limits the results set. One common example: You can put quotation marks around your query to find results with the exact phrase. We use exact match search to find sites that are duplicating our clients’ content, for example.

I use the site: search operator daily to limit results to a specified domain. It helps me find articles published on this site on a topic I’m writing about so I can strategically link internally, or to locate the URL of the exact post I need to answer someone’s question.

Each search engine has its own set of advanced search operators. Here’s the official documentation from today’s three major engines, Yahoo, Bing and Google.

In the table below you’ll find the search engine operators that we routinely use in SEO research.

(It’s not an all-inclusive list, so if you’re really looking to up your ninja robot search skills, explore those links above to learn about search operators like stocks:, which serves up stock information for ticker symbols.)

When you get comfortable with a few of these commands, you can find what you’re looking for faster. Below the table we explain how we use the advanced operators in our own SEO ninja research to plumb the depths of the search engines’ bots.

Google Bing Yahoo Result
cache: Shows the version of the web page from the search engine’s cache.
related: Finds web pages that are similar to the specified web page.
info: Presents some information that Google has about a web page, including similar pages, the cached version of the page, and sites linking to the page.
define: define: or definition: define: or definition: Provides a definition of a keyword. You must insert a space between the colon and the query in order for this operator to work in Yahoo and Bing.
site: site: site: Finds pages only within a particular domain and all its subdomains.
allintitle: Finds pages that include all query words as part of the indexed title tag.
intitle: intitle: intitle: Finds pages that include a specific keyword as part of the indexed title tag. You must include a space between the colon and the query for the operator to work in Bing.
allinurl: Finds a specific URL in the search engine’s index. You must include http:// in the URL you enter.
inurl: Finds pages that include a specific keyword as part of their indexed URLs.
link: Presents a selection of pages that link to the specified page.
meta: Finds pages that contain the specific keyword in the meta tags.
+ Requires that the word following the plus sign is in the results. An example use is [cats +musical] where there is no space between the plus sign and the keyword that is required in the results.
Removes results that contain the word following the minus sign. This search operator is added on to the keyword or phrase being searched for. It should follow the search query. For example, the query [cats -musical] will give you results about cats without the word musical on the page.
“search term” “search term” “search term” Finds instances of the exact phrase within the quotation marks everywhere it appears within the search engine’s index. Substitute [search term] in the search operator with the exact phrase you’re searching for.

 

How to Use Advanced Search Operators for Marketing Research

Here is how we use the search commands above for SEO research. In the example queries below, the searched phrase is in square brackets.

The cache: command (example query: [cache:http://www.bruceclay.com]) shows you a search engine’s cached version of a page. This is how the search engine actually sees your page. Cache shows what page content the search engine considers relevant to retrieve, making this Google search operator a valuable SEO diagnostic tool.

The related: operator (example query: [related:http://www.bruceclay.com]) gives you a glimpse of competitor content. You’ll see a small selection of what Google considers to be similar content, which you can analyze against SEO metrics — including word count, keyword use, meta data and inbound links — so that you can make your page equal to and then better than its competition.

Using the info: command in Google (example query: [info:http://www.bruceclay.com]) will result in links to a collection of these advanced search operators. It’s a one-stop shop to access the cache:, related:, link:, site:, and quotation mark exact match results.

In cases where you’re using a search engine as a dictionary, you can remove ambiguity and irrelevant search results and get straight to the definition with the define: operator (example query: [define:Boolean]).

Use the site: command (example query: [site:bruceclay.com]  to see how many web pages from a domain and its subdomains the search engine has indexed. Combine the site: operator with a keyword following the domain and you’ll see all pages on that site that are relevant for your search phrase. For example, [site:bruceclay.com 301 redirect] finds all the pages on this site with indexed content about 301 redirects.

With the search operators allintitle: and intitle: (example query: [allintitle: SEO keyword research]) you find who is your competition using your keywords in title tags. Similarly, the commands allinurl: and inurl: let you identify the competition using keywords in URLs.

The Google advanced search operator link: (example query: [link:http://www.bruceclay.com]) shows you the number of pages linking to a URL, whether your client’s or your competitors’ sites. You might devise new linking opportunities from this insight.

The Bing search operator meta: (example query: [meta: personal injury lawyer]) lets you view the pages in Bing’s index with your keywords in the meta description and meta keywords tags, helping you to identify your competition.

In Yahoo, you can use the + sign before a keyword to make sure that a word is in the results. It’s a tool to refine results when a query might otherwise be ambiguous. For example, the query [cats +musical] will help filter out results about cats the animal.

Another refinement tool, the sign before a keyword will remove results with that word. Again, it’s a tool to help refine results when a query might otherwise be ambiguous. If you’re looking for info about cats the animal, but there’s a showing of Cats the musical in your town, you can search [cats -musical] to remove results about the theater production.

Include a phrase in quotes (example query: [“Here is how we use the search commands above for SEO research”] to find that exact phrase within the search engine’s index. One reason you might search for an exact string of text is to check for duplicate content that may be causing your content to be filtered out of results (i.e., how many pages does Google have in its index containing that exact phrase). Another reason you might search for an exact phrase is to see if the search engine has indexed a page that contains that phrase.

Did You Love This Search Operators Cheat Sheet?

Feel like a robot ninja yet?! We’re full of hacks for digital marketing! (It’s what we do!) Learn more ways to get better rankings, better PPC performance, and better digital ROI by subscribing to our blog.

July 15th 2016 bing, Google, SEO, yahoo

5 Technical Factors to Check When Your Search Rankings Take a Dive

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by Jayson DeMers

In an ideal world, your SEO strategy would be on a constant, steadily forward-moving trajectory. As you invest more time and effort into your online presence, your rankings would gradually increase–with no interruptions. However, this is almost never the case. Eventually, no matter how careful or experienced you are, you’ll run into a ranking drop that leaves you frustrated and confused.

The problem is, SEO and online visibility are such complicated topics that they’re impossible to reduce to single variables. Everything, from the type of hosting you use to the type of social media marketing you pursue, can affect your organic search rankings.

Where do you start when troubleshooting a ranking dive?

Technical vs. Non-Technical Issues

Generally, there are two categories of factors that can cause a dive:

  • Quantitative, technical factors. Sometimes, there’s a simple, technical factor affecting how your site is ranking. On many levels, Google’s algorithm is simple and mathematical in its approach. For example, if your site isn’t structured in a way that Google can see and readily interpret, it won’t be able to index your site, and your rankings will drop. These tend to be obvious once spotted, but they require a degree of technical expertise to solve.
  • Qualitative, non-technical factors. Other times, you’ll be dealing with more subjective, non-technical factors. Google has a number of qualitative evaluating segments to its algorithm, such as Panda, which evaluates the quality of your content, and Penguin, which evaluates the quality of your inbound links. Sometimes, a drop in content quality–which is hard to objectively identify–can be responsible for your ranking drop.

Technical Factors to Check When Your Rankings Drop

Your first course of action, after seeing a major drop in your rankings, should be to check for technical factors that might be affecting your positions. These are plain to see and often simple to fix–and once repaired, there’s a good chance your positions will be restored quickly (if not instantly).

Here are things to check:

1. Your hosting.

The first place you should look is your hosting. A lot of things can happen with your hosting provider–your site may be temporarily unavailable, or your site may not be served properly. You might even be experiencing page loading problems because of your hosting provider. Run an audit on your hosting situation and consider switching if you’re not receiving consistent service.

2. Your robots.txt file.

The robots.txt file is a meta data file that instructs Google how to view and index your site. You can use it to prevent certain pages from being indexed, which is highly useful for canonizing duplicate content pages. However, many people end up making mistakes in the robots.txt file, masking the entire site (or entire sections) from being indexed.

3. Improperly set up 301 redirects.

301 redirects are an important and powerful tool in online visibility, but they’re often misused. If you set up a 301 redirect improperly, it could result in a number of different errors, such as duplicate indexing or the complete loss of certain pages of your site. Be sure you’re actually using 301 redirects, and not 302 (temporary) redirects or any other means of forwarding traffic.

4. A content loading issue.

Sometimes, technical hiccups are simple and easy to identify. If some of your content isn’t loading properly, it could cause your rankings to tank. For example, if none of the images or videos on your site are loading on mobile devices, you could suffer a massive blow to your mobile rankings and traffic.

5. Functional errors.

You may also find functional errors throughout your site, which can influence how your site is ranked. These can range from very small, such as broken internal links, to very large, such as entire sections of your site that aren’t loading or running properly. Some of these functional errors can bleed into qualitative factors, such as pages not loading quickly enough, or poor user experience factors. Run performance tests on multiple devices to check for these errors proactively.

If none of these technical factors seem to be affecting your site, you’ll have to start looking for qualitative, non-technical issues that might be wrong with your site. Or, if there’s a specific type of ranking drop you’ve seen (like a drop in local rankings), you can seek your next troubleshooting targets accordingly.

Be sure and visit our small business news site.

July 12th 2016 SEO