cjbarber/ToolsOfTheTrade

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cjbarber/ToolsOfTheTrade

Epic collection of links to tools of the trade for folks who work on the web.

July 24th 2014 SEO, Tools

Is Your Authority Site Safe From Negative SEO? A Look At PRWEB And PRNewswire

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[Disclaimer: Contributors' views are their own. They do not necessarily represent Devshed views ]

Last month I wrote an article about Google’s payday loan update which seemed to hit several sites but bypassed YouTube.

This month I have decided to go and take a look at two of the most popular press release sites and see if they have recovered from the penalty.

The 1st site I looked at was PR Newswire, who was getting an estimated 441,000 organic visits per month in May before the penalty. As you can see in the image below they are now driving an estimated 47,800 organic visits per month to the site after the penalty.

 pr newswire traffic

The 2nd site I have been monitoring is PR Web, one of the other big players in the Press Release niche. PR Web was getting a whopping 760,000+ estimated organic visits per month in May and since the penalty they are getting just over 34,000 estimated organic visits.

prweb traffic

Due to these penalties both press releases companies have made sweeping changes to what they will allow to be covered in their releases moving forward.

For instance neither agency will allow releases to be published about HCG, Green Coffee Beans, Raspberry Ketone, Garcinia Cambogia, Electronic Cigarettes or Payday Loans.

Most of these products Google will happily to advertise for profit, as seen in the image below.

 garcinia

If you think about the implication of these penalties it should also make it pretty clear that negative seo can be applied to most anyone, regardless of the size, age or reputation of the site in question.

Let’s put this in perspective, both of these sites have millions of existing links pointing to them over the course of several years in the business. The behavior of a few black hat SEO’s out there caused the sites to lose rankings and traffic for keywords which resulted on up to a 90% drop in estimated organic traffic.

While it is unlikely this was an intentional negative SEO attempt the result was the same, the sites were penalized due to behavior outside of their direct control and links they did not build themselves.

How difficult would it be to replicate this same pattern of bad behavior and victimize other, smaller sites that are standing in the way of your rankings?

Matt Cutts put out a YouTube video discussing how negative seo is easily combated through the disavow tool and how webmasters might just find it a minor inconvenience to disavow links.

Below is a snapshot of PR Web’s 26 MILLION links across nearly 200,000 domains I am not sure about you, but I would think reviewing even 1% of those links to be more than a “minor” inconvenience, even if you are lucky enough to have a full time webmaster on your staff.

prweb links

The point is no matter what you do it is in your best interest to regularly check your backlink profile in Google Webmaster tools and 3rd party tools such as Majestic Seo. Many times the penalty is not applied right away and by the time you figure out you have been a victim of negative SEO you may have to go back months to see where those links have come from.

What do you think; do you think Google has made it too easy to use negative SEO as a tactic?

The post Is Your Authority Site Safe From Negative SEO? A Look At PRWEB And PRNewswire appeared first on SEO Chat.

July 24th 2014 Google, SEO

Q and A: What are some typical daily tasks of a SEO business?

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QuestionHello Kalena

I have read a handful of your blog posts and LOVED THEM. I’ll get to the point. I was looking to see if you could write a post on daily tasks of an SEO business if you had ONE client (to keep it simple).

I have about 60 domains that I use to test SEO techniques, I own two businesses with I SEO myself, I attend many webinars, buy books etc to keep my SEO skills sharp. I pretty good with SEO and running a business.

My problem now is I’d like to run an SEO business but I don’t know what a client wants from me on a day today basis for results. Could you possibly email me or write a post about what I would do day-day for a client. Almost like a checklist. Of course I would have to do many other task that randomly come at me (problem solving).

My brain gets a little jumbled when it comes to organization. Since I’ve never run an SEO business yet, I have no idea what my days would look like. I have my web/graphic design business down perfectly!

I understand you are very busy but if you could give me a little boost I will definitely pay it forward.

Thank you!

Chris

————————————–

Hi Chris

You might be interested to know that our SEO Advanced course includes a whole bonus lesson dedicated to setting up your own SEO business, including recommended tools and checklists.

In the meantime, I actually wrote an article a couple of years ago that might help you. Although it might not be quite be written as the day in the life of a SEO, it IS written as a diary of typical SEO tasks that you need to perform over several weeks. It’s called The 10 Week SEO Diet and there is even a video version.

Hope this helps!

——————————————————————–

Need to learn SEO but not sure where to start? Access your Free SEO Lessons. No catch!

 

July 18th 2014 SEO

Could Disappearing Author Photos in Google SERPs Signal Coming Author Rank?

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Could Disappearing Author Photos in Google SERPs Signal Coming Author Rank? was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

When John Mueller announced Google was “simplifying the way authorship is shown in mobile and desktop search results, removing the profile photo and circle count,” he asserted that this change was simply an effort to de-clutter the search results page (SERP). Prominent Internet marketers, however, had their own theories on Google’s latest bold move.

Here we evaluate some of the theories posed by industry thought leaders about why Google has cut author photos from SERPs. We also explore how the removal of author photos from SERPs may actually portend Google’s intent to add author reputation as an algorithmic ranking factor.

Background on Google Authorship and Author Rank

Google may be moving toward authorship as a more trusted ranking signal.

So many authors, such a spammed signal. With these latest changes, though, Google may be angling to clean up authorship for a trusted ranking signal.

First, a refresher on the Google Authorship program and when to apply authorship code to a web page.

The only place authorship markup should appear is on pages that offer educational, unique or otherwise useful information, created by a true author. Authorship markup should not appear on product pages, for example. Think of a magazine — bylines don’t belong on advertisements; they belong on articles. Google has historically used authorship markup to create a special display, or rich snippet, in its search results that may include an author’s name and headshot.

For more on what Google authorship markup is and how to correctly implement it on a website, read Claiming Your Authorship on the Web.

It’s also necessary to understand how Google may now or eventually use an individual author’s reputation as a ranking signal. Author Rank is industry jargon for an algorithm that gauges the authority of an author so that higher rankings can be given to content written by more authoritative authors. This concept is called “Agent Rank” in one Google patent for a system that quantifies author authority.

Google confirmed that author authority was a ranking signal within In-Depth Articles results. It’s not known if author reputation is used as a ranking signal in other contexts, but there has been indication from Google reps that the search engine would like to use author authority in appropriate contexts if it can be trusted as a clean signal — that is, if the ranking factor can’t be easily spammed.

Abuse of Authorship Markup

author-trust
Since Google authorship photos debuted in 2011, there have been many reports of increased click-through rates (CTR). A Catalyst Search Marketing case study, for example, found SERP results with author photos saw a 150% CTR increase.

History has shown that known ranking signals become targets of spam and abuse. Ecommerce sites have inappropriately implemented authorship markup on product pages that don’t qualify as “authored” content.

In December 2013, Matt Cutts announced a change that would reduce the appearance of authorship photos in SERPs by 15 percent. This was likely motivated by Google’s interest in cleaning up the signal, weeding out unauthoritative and inappropriate authorship markup. Some have theorized that the latest removal of author photos altogether can also be viewed as a move by Google to stop abuse of authorship markup.

“Google has a vested interest in eliminating people who are using authorship markup just to get their picture in SERPs for an enhanced CTR — people who aren’t really authors or interested in writing true content,” said Bruce Clay, Inc. Senior SEO Analyst Rob Ramirez. “Now that Google has removed photos, i.e., the reward, we’ll see a cleaner SERP.”

In a nutshell, by removing the incentive to abuse authorship markup, Google may be moving closer to using author authority as a ranking factor.

Consider also how Google has experimented with including photos and bylines and a mix of not having one or the other. Google has been selective when including photos and bylines, not always including author bylines despite proper authorship markup implementation. Yet, since Google removed photos completely, we now see author bylines in SERPs consistently. That is, while author photos have been removed altogether, we can now trust that bylines will show up (where authorship markup is set up). Before, it was up to Google’s discretion whether a result would be enhanced with any author info.

Noted Google-authorship expert Mark Traphagen reported:

“Qualification for an authorship byline now is simply having correct markup. This was a bit of a surprise given Google’s move last December to differentiate and highlight authors with better quality content who publish on trusted sites. But in a Google Webmaster Central Hangout on June 25, 2014, John Mueller indicated that now as long as the two-way verification … could be correctly read by Google, a byline would likely be shown.”

With the return of bylines for all authors and the removal of authorship photos, it seems like Google is experimenting with authorship rich snippets as it moves toward an increased emphasis on authorship and a fully realized Author Rank.

Ramirez expects that moving forward, SEOs will continue to see changes within authorship:

“The next thing that we might see Google do is clean up those authors who aren’t really publishing content. How often someone publishes content might start to become a factor. If, for example, authorship is set up one time and it hasn’t budged since that date, that might indicate to Google that this ‘author’ is not, in fact, a real author. In such cases, the user might lose any kind of benefit of authorship. Now that they’ve gotten rid of the photo enhancement in the SERP, they have the problem of cleaning up the people that were spamming it before. That has to be a next step before they go to Author Rank.”

Did Google Remove Author Photos Because the Images Competed with Ads?

On the day of Mueller’s announcement, noted search industry speaker Rand Fishkin (of SEO tools company Moz) tweeted: “the compelling explanation for Google removing profile pics from search is that it distracted from ads, and cost advertisers clicks” and that he was “frustrated [by John Mueller] saying that it will not cost CTR. Either Google lied about the increase in CTR with photos, or they’re lying now.”

In his announcement regarding the removal of authorship photos, Mueller said experiments indicated that CTR would remain steady despite the change to the SERP. Fishkin was not alone in his disbelief; Larry Kim of search advertising software company WordStream tested the theory by turning to analytics data. By his analysis, the CTR of a WordStream ad targeting “negative keywords” gained a 44% increase after the removal of author photos.

“We tested this data rigorously, and the difference we observed is statistically significant with 99% confidence due to the high number of daily ad impressions (thousands) for this keyword,” Kim wrote. “It’s clear to us that based on this data, it’s not realistic to say the deletion of Google authorship photos has no impact on the CTR of other elements on the SERP.

Even if the removal of authorship photos impacts CTR on ads, Ramirez doesn’t think ad revenue was Google’s main catalyst for this change.

“Things are rarely that black and white when it comes to Google’s motives. I don’t think that Google is hurting for money — they don’t need to make those kind of decisions,” Ramirez said.

Instead, Google’s motivation is most likely tied to improving results and encouraging a cleaner signal for author authority. In the following video, Ramirez shares more of his thoughts on the changes in Google authorship in an exclusive interview:

July 17th 2014 Google, SEO

SEM Synergy Returns to WebmasterRadio.FM

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SEM Synergy Returns to WebmasterRadio.FM was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

After almost three years since its last episode, SEM Synergy is making a comeback to WebmasterRadio.FM. It’s the Internet marketing podcast you don’t want to miss hosted by leading search marketing expert Bruce Clay, president and founder of Bruce Clay, Inc.

SEM Synergy Internet Marketing PodcastWith new episodes starting July 16 (THAT’S TODAY!) at 11 a.m. Pacific time, 2 p.m. Eastern time, Bruce Clay will be joined by co-hosts Virginia Nussey and Mindy Weinstein. Together, the trio will bring Internet marketers and business owners a weekly dose of news and commentary with interviews from the brightest minds in SEO, like next week’s guest Duane Forrester of Bing and past guests that have included Matt Cutts, Bryan Eisenberg and Avinash Kaushik.

Picking up right where they left off in 2011, Bruce and hosts will be talking about all the different puzzle pieces that make SEO come together synergistically from branding, content marketing and social media to paid search, analytics and conversions. In the first episode of the relaunched radio series, listen in as they discuss Panda 4.0, updates to Google’s Quality Rating Guidelines, the disappearance of author photos in search results, and Matt Cutts’ leave of absence.

Panda 4.0

Described as a kinder and gentler version of Google’s latest algorithm update, Panda 4.0 targets sites with little content or low-quality content on their web pages. In a Google+ Hangout on Air recorded shortly after the news of Panda 4.0 broke, Weinstein discussed why this was a good thing for Internet marketing. On today’s show the discussion turns to how SEO strategies have transformed over the past several years and how Bruce approaches website rankings in a post-Panda world.

New Quality Rating Guidelines

A sixth generation of the Google Quality Rating Guidelines was just recently “leaked.” The guide is given to human reviewers to give Google feedback on the quality of pages in relation to search queries. SEOs can use this document to evaluate the quality of their site and pages as Google might. Bruce, Mindy and Virginia discuss what the new guidelines entail. They also answer questions like: How will these guidelines affect your rankings? And if Google doesn’t trust your website, will your visitors?

Vanishing Authorship Photos

There has been speculation from many in the industry on why Google removed author photos from appearing in search results. One theory is that author photos weren’t a valid sign of authority as originally intended. But is this true, or is there something bigger at play going on here? Get the scoop on how to approach authorship markup moving forward on today’s episode of SEM Synergy.

Matt Cutts Takes Personal Leave

Google’s leading spokesperson to the search marketing industry is taking a leave of absence. After 15 years of working with Google since the very beginning, this will be the longest amount of time he will be taking off from his role as head of Google’s webspam team. But where will we get our all-important SEO updates during his absence? Bruce, Mindy and Virginia look at life outside of SEO and SEO news without Matt Cutts.

It was interesting to learn while listening to the show that Bruce Clay has been doing SEO since 1996; meanwhile Google didn’t hit the scene until 1998! SEM Synergy aims to offer weekly coverage of the newest marketing strategies, emerging technologies and search marketing news affecting the daily work lives of Internet marketers and business owners across the globe.

Tune into SEM Synergy with Bruce Clay and co-hosts every Wednesday at 11 a.m. Pacific on WebmasterRadio.FM or through the WebmasterRadio.FM mobile application for iOS and Android devices. Listen to past episodes of SEM Synergy on-demand by visiting the archives under the Search Engine Optimization channel at WebmasterRadio.FM.

July 17th 2014 SEO

8 Common Mobile Website Pitfalls to Avoid for SEO

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8 Common Mobile Website Pitfalls to Avoid for SEO was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

With mobile Internet usage at an all-time high, Google has been cracking down on websites with poor mobile experience. Mobile web design and user experience must be addressed as part of any effective online strategy.

The way a site handles traffic from mobile devices can directly affect that business’s presence in search results. Just this month, Google announced it was adding a disclaimer beneath mobile search results that redirect smartphone users from the page they click on in the SERP to that site’s home page. From Google’s perspective, this disclaimer improves its mobile experience; meanwhile webmasters should be concerned if their mobile websites are ill-equipped to handle the growing number of mobile queries.

Update: Hours after this post was published, Google announced another change to SERPs related to warning mobile users about sub-optimal user experience. Websites that use Flash will include a disclaimer that the site listed in the results “Uses Flash” and “May not work on your device.”

The pressure is on for websites to provide a user-friendly mobile experience as the number of mobile queries surpassed desktop queries this year.

search result redirect

Google’s example of how it will handle mobile SERPs when a site listed in results may redirect users to the home page.

Mobile browsing isn’t a here-today-gone-tomorrow fad. The mobile web has given rise to a new way of life for consumers. Mobile design is no longer an option, but a necessity in a world where mobile-friendly websites turn visitors into customers.

According the Pew Research Center:

  • 90 percent of American adults own a cell phone.
  • ⅔ of Americans with cell phones use their phones to go online.
  • ⅓ of Americans with cell phones use their mobile device as their primary access point to the Internet.
  • Since 2012 smartphone adoption has grown by 69 percent.

 

mobile-friendly website conversions

So, is your mobile website experience up to par? To help business owners and Internet marketers stay current with mobile trends, lead SEO analyst at Bruce Clay, Inc., Ty Carson, reports the most common pitfalls in mobile website design.

Mobile Website Technology

Avoiding the most common pitfalls in mobile web design begins first and foremost with choosing the right technology to build your mobile website. Without an IT or web developer background, how do you know which technologies are more search-engine friendly than others?

Carson suggests business owners consult with an SEO company first before deciding on which technology to use. He also recommends building mobile websites using crawlable, static HTML pages rather than AJAX-based technologies. If AJAX happens to be your preferred technology, you can help Google properly index your website by following Webmaster Guidelines for making AJAX applications crawlable. But know that, as Carson says, “Search engines have trouble accessing dynamically-served JavaScript, so you’re better off avoiding AJAX or JS technologies altogether.”

Mobile Web Design Options

Once you’ve decided on which technology you’re going to use to build your mobile website, the next important factor to consider is which of the three smartphone configurations that Google supports works best for your website:

  1. Responsive web design
  2. Dynamic serving
  3. A separate mobile site

BCI SEO Analyst John Alexander covered the pros and cons of each option in a BCI blog post titled A Cheat Sheet for Mobile Design. Read the full post for details on the benefits and drawbacks of each, but at a high level know that:

  • Responsive design is Google’s preferred smartphone configuration for mobile websites. However, this may not always be a practical solution depending on the size and layout of your website.
  • Dynamic serving is another great option for mobile web design, but it can be a little tricky to implement and may result in unintentional cloaking issues if not implemented correctly.
  • A separate mobile site is a fairly common option, particularly among websites with lots of pages, but requires double the maintenance with a whole separate website in the mix.

Whichever configuration you choose to work with, or have already implemented, there’s still a chance you could be losing 68 percent of mobile traffic if these mobile solutions are not implemented correctly.

Common Problems With Mobile Sites Built In HTML

Want to make it easier for your customers to find you no matter where they are or what device they are using? Keep reading to find out if you’re committing one of these cardinal sins of mobile web design as seen through the eyes of our lead SEO analyst who has conducted more than his fair share of mobile site SEO reviews.

Pitfall #1: Faulty Redirects

A website should correctly detect user agents and direct the visitor to the desired page of a desktop website or mobile website, as appropriate. In order for the server to properly direct visitors coming from a variety of devices, the mobile site must have corresponding equivalent pages for every page on the desktop site. This issue is the instigating factor for Google’s new handling of search results that redirect users to the home page, as described above.

Pitfall #2: Missing (or Wrong) Alternate

This issue can be a problem for site’s with a separate mobile site. As a general rule of thumb, every desktop page should point to a corresponding mobile page. This can be done by including a rel=”alternate” tag on desktop pages. Most importantly, the mobile page you point to needs to be a page that closely matches that of the desktop page. This creates a better search experience for mobile users. There’s nothing more disappointing for mobile users than to click on a seemingly promising result only to discover that the page doesn’t really exist … at least for a mobile device user.

Pitfall #3: Missing (or Wrong) Canonical

Here’s another issue that can arise when using a separate mobile site. For every mobile page with a corresponding desktop page that points to it, website owners should be including a rel=”canonical” tag that points to the corresponding desktop page. While the rel=”alternate” tag on mobile pages improves mobile search experience, the canonical tag prevents duplicate content issues and lets search engines know which version of the page should be indexed.

Pitfall #4: Cloaking to Change Content Based on User-Agent

This is a common issue among dynamic serving mobile websites as well as sites using technologies the search engines have trouble accessing like Flash and JavaScript. Cloaking is a direct violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and refers to the practice of presenting users with one version of the mobile site while the search engines are getting an entirely different version. The best way to fix this issue is by making sure that all user-agents and search engine bots are getting the same source code as mobile users.

Pitfall #5: Mobile Website Speed

According to data from Google Analytics, the average web page takes about 10 seconds to load on a mobile device, and yet most mobile users have a significantly shorter attention span than that. Google recommends cutting page loading time down to one second or less for optimal mobile user experience. Use tools like Google Page Speed Insights or W3C Mobile Validator to run site speed tests and identify different ways to improve your mobile site’s page loading times.

Pitfall #6: Large Image and File Sizes

Related to issue #3 above, image-heavy websites with large file sizes are major issues that can cause your web pages to load a lot more slowly. The longer it takes for your page to load, the more likely you are to lose visitors. Slow page loading times can also result in slower crawl rates, which means less of your mobile pages getting indexed. The solution: Use compressed images and smaller file size to reduce the time it takes mobile search engines to render your page.

Pitfall #7: Missing Meta Tags

When it comes to delivering search results, Google treats mobile and desktop quite differently when user behavior and intent are factored into search results. That’s why you want to optimize your website for mobile search the same way you would for desktop search. The easiest fix for missing Meta tags on your mobile pages is to pull them from their corresponding desktop pages and make sure they match what the mobile user is searching in Google for a seamless user experience.

Pitfall #8: No Mobile Sitemap

If you have a separate mobile site, you need a separate sitemap. Without a sitemap for your mobile site, you’ll only make it harder for search engines to quickly identify what your site and pages are all about. The sitemap also clues them in on additional pages on your website that may have been missed during the normal crawling process. A sitemap.xml file should be created containing all of the static pages that should be crawled and indexed by search engines and reside in the root directory for your m.domain site.

Avoid the most common pitfalls in mobile design by installing website analytics and verifying ownership of both your desktop and mobile website through Webmaster Tools. This will help you identify and fix errors that may be hindering the mobile experience for users.

Get mobile SEO tips and so much more by checking out the Bruce Clay, Inc. Blog. If you’re interested in a mobile site SEO review, get in touch with us for guidance on how to improve your mobile site experience.

July 16th 2014 Mobile, SEO

Yeah, But… I Already Rank For My Company Name

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by Stoney deGeyter

Every now and then we get a call from a prospect who seems to want to try to talk themselves out of buying SEO. We call them “Yeah, Butters.” And if you’ve been following this series, you understand why.

One of the common objections we hear is, “But we already rank for our company name, so why do I need SEO?”

There are a couple dynamics at play here. One, you’re probably seeing personalized results, not necessarily what the rest of the world sees. And two, because… and this is important here… UNLESS YOU’RE A WELL-KNOWN BRAND, NOBODY IS SEARCHING FOR YOUR COMPANY NAME!!! 

Breathe…

Breathe…

Breathe…

OK, I hope you’ve recovered from the shock. Now let’s tackle each of these one at a time.

Your Results Are Personalized Just for You

Most people don’t realize this, but the search results you see are not the same results someone else sees when performing the same search. This is because if you’re logged into any of your Google accounts (Gmail, Google Docs, Google+, AdWords, Webmaster Tools, etc.), and if you don’t deliberately turn personalization off, your results are being personalized.

This personalization is based on a few things. Google looks at your search history and the type of sites you’ve clicked on, who’s in your Google+ network and items you may have shared in the past. If you regularly search and read tech blogs, when you search for “apple,” you’re most likely to get results for the company. However, if you regularly search and read gardening and cooking sites, a search for “apple” might produce an entirely different set of results.

Usually the contrast won’t be that stark. In most cases you’ll see just a few different results from the next person. But the more data Google has on your history, the more likely your results will differ.

Another differentiation factor can be locality. Some searches automatically produce a local set of results. If your company is called “The Carpet Outlet” and a search for that puts you at number one, it’s likely as a result of geo-targeting the search results. Perform the same search in another part of the country, and there’s a strong chance you’re not going to appear at the top. And maybe not even on the first page!

The only way to get completely unbiased results is to log out of all Google profiles before performing your search. Even still, you’re likely to have some personalization going on. You can also click the icon at the top of your Google search results page to “hide private results.” However, it’s possible you’re still going to get geo-targeted results either way.

People Search for Solutions, Not Brands

customers-dont-search-company-name.jpg

Most companies are not recognizable brand names such as Nissan, Pepsi, Nabisco or even Marathon Gas. But even if you are such a name, ranking for your brand name isn’t enough. Each month there are approximately 300,000 searches for “pepsi” and 100,000 for “coke.” However searches for “soda” and “pop” collectively reach 1.3 million monthly searches.

Here’s another example using a less well-known brand, School Outfitters. Monthly searches for “school outfitters” is 6,600. Monthly searches for “school furniture” is 8100. Not too great of a difference, but here’s the kicker: School furniture is just one keyword that would drive business to School Outfitters.

Let’s look at just five relevant keywords, “school furniture” (8,100), “conference table” (5,400), “computer desk” (49,500), “fitness equipment” (27,100), and “office furniture” (135,000). Those five keywords alone are searched approximately 225,000 times each month. I’ll take a top ranking for any of those over the brand name any day.

My point here is that while brand searches can be valuable, they are just the tip of the iceberg. If you rank only for brand searches, you will get traffic that is already familiar with you. Your competitors are getting everyone else. However, when you choose to optimize for all the other relevant keywords for your industry, you begin to bring in new traffic that doesn’t know who you are. You have a chance to convert a new customer and, hopefully, earn a customer for life. If you don’t, they just might turn to your competitor instead.

In all honesty, ranking for your brand name is pretty easy. It’s ranking for other keywords–those that attract far more visitors–that starts taking time, effort and money. But if brand searches are enough for you, by all means, don’t invest in SEO. However, if you want to grow your business and capture traffic that otherwise would go to someone else, you need to invest in quality SEO.

Be sure and visit our small business news site.

The Weekly Compete Pulse

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Weekly-Pulse-2014
Our favorite articles from this week focused on bringing you crucial information about your digital marketing strategy. If you missed them, take a look at these must-reads featuring resources, updates, and warnings that you absolutely need to know.

Essential Twitter Marketing Resources: A Complete Guide

Twitter has the ability to be a staple of your digital marketing strategy—but only if used correctly. This article by Social Media Examiner provides you with resources that teach you to network, market, and advertise in 140 or fewer characters. Learn how to maximize your tweeting potential and best manage your accounts here.

10 Things You Should Not Ignore In Your Digital Marketing Strategy

Whenever the founding date of your brand, today’s calendar reads 2014, and your marketing strategy needs to reflect that. Digital marketing no longer counts for extra credit, so if you still regard SEO, mobile apps, and analytics to be anything less than essential, that thinking needs to go the way of the mood ring and festive vest. This article by Jeff Bullas takes you through 10 elements of digital marketing that are absolutely necessary for your brand’s success.

The 10 Most Important Paid Search Developments So Far In 2014

Paid search is constantly updating– are you informed of the latest changes to Google AdWords and Bing Ads? No? Fear not. This concise article by Search Engine Land catches you up on everything you need to know about the changes made during the first half of 2014. Educate yourself  here.

10 Shocking Facts About Content Marketing Today

You’re probably already familiar with the concept of content marketing. It’s reputable, convenient, and super popular, but these statistics still may surprise you. Take a look at this article by Search Engine Watch to understand the full scope of its influence on your brand and community.

Changing the Channel: Why Programmatic Isn’t Ready to Deliver What Brand Marketers Want

Programmatic is among the most contemporary developments in the digital world. The concept has much allure for digital marketers, offering improved efficiency while expanding reach, but Ari Brandt argues that use of the technology may be premature. Learn about the potential concerns brand marketers have for this emerging technology here.

July 13th 2014 Analytics, News, SEO, Social Media

3 Factors of a Standout SEO Resume + 1 Bonus Off-page Factor

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3 Factors of a Standout SEO Resume + 1 Bonus Off-page Factor was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

Your resume is the first thing a hiring manager is going to see when you apply for a job — is your SEO resume optimized to make a good first impression? Our SEO Manager Mindy Weinstein shared three factors that make for a standout SEO resume:

  • Experience
  • Training
  • Results

And beyond the SEO resume itself, she emphasized an off-page factor she considers when hiring a potential SEO analyst: attitude.

SEO Resume Factor 1: Experience

seo resumeWhen it comes to experience, an SEO analyst should have at least one to two years of experience. A senior SEO analyst should have three or more, with experience interfacing with clients and managing projects. For those without SEO experience, however, there are internships, apprenticeships and associate SEO positions where aspiring analysts can get valuable experience.

“If someone is coming with no experience, I focus mainly on communication and time management abilities. SEO can be taught, but great communication is harder to learn. I try to relate his or her past work experience with what I know applies to an SEO’s job,” Weinstein said.

SEO Resume Factor 2: Training

Because Internet marketing is a relatively new industry, ways in which SEOs have been trained vary widely (read more in Learning SEO and the Future of SEO Education). Weinstein said she weighs experience more heavily than training. That being said, if a prospective analysts lists a reputable course or certification program on his or her SEO resume, it stands out.

SEO Resume Factor 3: Results

“One of the first things I look for on an SEO resume are results. It’s one thing to say you have experience optimizing web pages and increasing keyword rankings,” said Weinstein. “Backing those statements up with specifics, such as ‘moved primary keyword rankings to the first position in search results and doubled organic traffic,’ is a whole lot more powerful.”

Off-page Factor: Attitude

A standout SEO resume can get you an interview, but your personality and ability to articulate yourself is going to seal the deal. While experience, training and results are key factors, so is your attitude.

“I pay close attention to how a prospective analyst is able to articulate thoughts,” Weinstein said. “I also watch for signs of a positive attitude. For example, if the candidate is very negative when talking about past work experience, it is usually a red flag.”

Put Your SEO Resume to the Ultimate Test

Do you have what it takes to catch Bruce Clay and Weinstein’s attention? Bruce Clay, Inc. is looking for talented SEO analysts to join our team. We have two open positions right now, in fact. Find out more and apply here.

July 11th 2014 SEO

20 Free Marketing eBooks You Need to Download Right Now

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Sssshhh!I don’t know about you, but I’m a bit of a sucker for free downloadable PDF eBooks and White Papers. Because they are usually organized into chapter form, they tend to be meatier and contain more valuable content than blog posts and articles. I’ve obtained an impressive collection of eBooks over the years and will often whip one out to share with a client or a Search Engine College student who might be struggling to understand a particular marketing or SEO concept.

So I thought I’d share with you my favorite free eBooks and White Papers, categorized by theme. Where possible, I’ve linked to the jump page from where you can access the PDF file, rather than linking to the PDF itself.

Top 5 Free Marketing Related eBooks

1) Definitive Guide to Marketing, Metrics and Analytics by Marketo – This chunky, 70 page eBook is a methodical guide for how to implement effective marketing measurement practices across your organization – big or small. It deals with that tricky subject of determining how your various marketing programs impact your revenue and profit so that you can decide which ones to focus on going forward.

2) The Email Marketing Showcase by Pollen Marketing – A recent discovery, this ROI-Driven email marketing guide by Natalie Giddings includes 50 published email examples compiled by experienced Internet marketers. It showcases stunning newsletter design elements, clever use of graphics and color and highly converting calls-to-action so you can learn from and implement them in your own email marketing programs. I read this in one sitting and then spent the weekend completely re-writing my follow up email series. I was so impressed, I contacted Natalie and offered her a tutor role at Search Engine College! (more about that soon).

3) A Guide to Marketing in 2014 by Vocus – How will you make the right choices for your 2014 digital marketing mix? This comprehensive guide will light the way for you. Written with a team of digital marketing’s foremost technologists and innovators, the guide explains 2014′s key marketing trends, what they will mean for you, and how to make them work with your brand’s strategy.

4) Take Your Business Online in 5 Hours for $26 by AWeber – You might be aware that I use AWeber for nearly all my online marketing activities. This includes email marketing campaigns, newsletter distribution and subscriber management needs. They just make it SO easy. So it makes sense for a company serving small and medium sized businesses to create a PDF guide to getting a biz online, fast. As they say in this guide, you can take your business online with just a basic website, an email series and some social network profiles. This step-by-step guide shows how to create an online presence for your business in only five hours for just $26.

5) The Essential Step-by-Step Guide to Internet Marketing by HubSpot – I just love Hubspot. They are very clever marketers and always seem to come up with a relevant eBook, right when I’m researching a particular marketing topic. This was one of the first eBooks I ever downloaded from Hubspot and I refer to it all the time. Whether you’re just getting started with internet marketing or you want to brush up on the basics, this ebook can serve as your essential guide to setting up and implementing a successful internet marketing strategy, step by step. Be sure to check out their free MS Excel-based Editorial Calendar as well.

Top 5 Free SEO Related eBooks

1) SEO Starter Guide by Google – First published in 2008, Google has recently updated their SEO Starter Guide and translated it into 40 different languages. The Guide was written in response to Google staff being inundated with the same question in various formats over many years: “What are some simple ways that I can improve my website’s performance in Google?” The result is a compact guide that lists best practices that webmasters can follow to improve their sites’ crawlability and indexing. The Google Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide covers a range of common site design and coding aspects that webmasters need to optimize, such as improving title and description meta tags, URL structure, site navigation, content creation, anchor text, and more. If you want to improve your rank in Google, downloading this eBook is a no-brainer.

2) Beginner’s Guide to SEO by Moz – Following on from Google’s SEO Guide, this Beginner’s Guide from Moz will fill in any gaps you may have in your SEO knowledge. Beautifully designed and divided into clear, logical sections, this Guide is an ideal starting point for webmasters who want to educate themselves about what makes a search compatible site. It’s viewable online or via downloadable PDF and because it is written in such an approachable format and regularly updated by the Moz team, I recommend this eBook to all my SEO students.

3) 17 SEO Myths You Should Leave Behind by Hubspot – You’ll see Hubspot mentioned a few times in this article, for good reason. Their content is always timely and intuitive. Hubspot produced this eBook shortly after Google rolled out their confusing Panda algorithm update and webmasters were clambouring for some kind of guidance about how it would impact their SEO strategy. In the eBook, Hubspot debunk some of the most common SEO myths that still persist. After Google let loose their shiny new Hummingbird algorithm update, Hubspot cleverly updated this eBook to keep the advice fresh and relevant for the latest SEO methodologies.

4) The Web Developer’s SEO Cheat Sheet by Moz – When I first started optimizing web sites for clients back in 1996, I actually wrote a similar Cheat Sheet of my own to give to web development staff to ensure they wouldn’t make any major SEO blunders and undo all my hard work. But Moz have taken the SEO Cheat Sheet concept to a whole new, beautiful level. Recently updated, all the geektastic SEO tips and shortcuts you’ll ever need while coding are in here, including metadata, sitemaps, pagination, authorship, user agents, robot syntax, canonicalization and much more. This one is permanently pinned to my office wall.

5) Microsoft Excel for SEOs by Distilled – This Guide is so much more than an eBook. Produced by London-based digital creative agency Distilled, Microsoft Excel for SEOs started life as a White Paper written up to help SEO professionals retrieve meaningful information from mountains of data, using MS Excel. It is now less of a White Paper and more of an extremely comprehensive mini course in how to use Microsoft Excel to revolutionize traditionally time-consuming Search Engine Optimization tasks. If your job involves data analysis of the marketing kind, give this Guide a look. It’s viewable online or via downloadable PDF and comes with an XLS Example Workbook to help cement your knowledge with practical examples.

Top 5 Free Social Media Related eBooks

1) The Marketer’s Guide to Social Media by Vocus – This guide is written for marketers to help them come to terms with where they should invest their time and money and what social media tactics will help them achieve the greatest ROI. The guide includes insights from social media butterflies Ekaterina Walter, Jason Falls and Michael Stelzner that will take you through the most pivotal social media marketing trends and show you how to leverage them to deploy winning campaigns.

2) The Definitive Guide to Social Marketing by Marketo – If you are looking for a comprehensive understanding of Social Media for business in under 100 pages, this visually splendid eBook won’t disappoint. Written from a strong business ROI perspective, this guide is the one eBook I recommend most often to all my Social Media Marketing workshop attendees.

3) How to Get 1000+ Followers on Twitter by Hubspot – If you’re a Twitter junkie like me, this snappy eBook will make light work of the problem of not having enough Twitter followers. The advice includes how to optimize your Twitter profile, how and when to follow people, how to use hash tags and what to retweet.

4) Do It Yourself Social Media Audit by JanetFous.com – Did you know that you should conduct a social media audit quarterly? Well apparently you should. According to Social Media expert Janet Fouts, it’s a good idea to conduct a social media audit every so often to step back and take a benchmark of your performance. This allows you to see yourself as others might see you and judge if you are delivering the message you think you’re sending. It’s also a good way to evaluate what networks are working for you, which aren’t and if you are using social media efficiently. This eBook shows you what you need to do in order to audit your own Social Media activities and set a benchmark for the future.

5) Building a Killer Content Strategy by Hubspot – Everyone knows that great content is the foundation of highly trafficked sites. But how do you define *great*? How should you implement a content creation and publication strategy? This guide will teach you how to do all these things by giving you actionable advice, including how to understand your audience, map content to the buying cycle and build an editorial calendar.

Top 5 Free Advertising Related eBooks

1) AdWords Step by Step by Google – It’s amazing the number of marketers who abandon AdWords as a channel following a string of failed campaigns. The truth is that AdWords is a complex and tricky beast and you really need to educate yourself in campaign set up and planning before any of your ads go live. This free eBook by Google is a great starting point for both new advertisers and experienced marketers.

2) Google AdWords: A Brave New World by Google – Andrew Goodman wrote the first eBook on AdWords, over 10 years ago now. As Andrew states in his book, the world of AdWords changes frequently, even though many of the fundamental principles do not. Andrew’s original eBook eventually morphed into a 400 page published book that quickly became everyone’s favorite AdWords reference and has been updated several times. This pocket guide is a 40-page mini version of Andrew’s book, that offers a faster read for marketers in a hurry to understand the complexity lurking in Google’s advertising system.

3) Open the Black Box – Maximizing Success in Bid Automation by OptiMine – Bid automation software is essential for companies with complex paid-search programs. However, when using bid automation software it’s hard to determine the “why” behind their paid-search performance. This whitepaper looks at why companies need to use bid automation software that gives them transparency and control of their paid-search programs.

4) Conversion Secrets of a Million Dollar Landing Page by Conversion Rate Experts – This case study really put Conversation Rate Experts on the map. During the process of building a highly converting landing page for SEOMoz.com (now re-branded as Moz.com), CRE obtained such phenomenal results, that they set a new conversion benchmark for the industry. This online case study (downloadable as a PDF) is another resource I refer my students to frequently. It contains invaluable advice on boosting your ad and landing page response rates and highlights all the key features of high-converting content.

and finally…

5) From Abandon to Conversion: Why Shoppers Abandon Carts and What Merchants Can Do About It by Bronto – Shopping cart abandonment is a major problem for online retailers, with rates averaging between 60-70 percent. Departing shoppers represent a significant amount of lost revenue and to reverse that trend, you need to understand customer motivations and reasons for abandonment. For this white paper, Bronto staff examined the carting experience and follow-up email strategies of 100 retailers to discover the reasons for abandonment and the top strategies for bringing those shoppers back.

Happy reading!

July 8th 2014 sem, SEO, Social Media, Tools