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Using rel= author for Google

October 3rd, 2012 No comments

Google is pushing a bunch of things this year. (Hold the nasty comments, people.) Two of those things come into play when we talk about the rel=author tag: authority and Google Plus.

Google wants people to send notice of their authority when writing and publishing. It seems like the days of the anonymous ‘web content provider’ may indeed be numbered.

rel=authorPages with authorship noted should be seen as more “authoritative,” of course. If you have a job as a content provider it is in your own best interest to link your writing to a personal Google Plus profile. Hypothetically that profile can be created specifically for your job but if you leave that job in the future, the authorship of web pages stays with your name. And that’s only fair.

More on that later, but let’s look at how to implement this. It’s not hard at all.

Implementing rel=author for Google and GooglePlus

  1. For every web page you create you can add a rel=author tag. The tag is simple. It goes inside the head of your document and it looks like this:<link rel=”author” href=”Google_plus_profile”>

    In the href for Google_plus_profile, link your own. Mine is https://plus.google.com/u/0/115674143020053957814/posts.

  2. Next, you need to go to your Google Plus profile, edit Profile and under Contributor to, add a custom link with the name for the site and the site url.
  3. Test it using Google Webmaster Tool’s rich snippets testing tool:  http://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/richsnippets

Why authorship?
I like this idea. I’ve written thousands of uncredited pages for the web. Now, honestly, many of these I’m happy to not take credit for. (Example? I once wrote a page on tweezers for a site called firstaid101.com.) But really, if you’ve written a page that is worth posting to the web, you should take credit for it.

Google’s authorship tag is a great way for everyone to recognize the importance of legitimately good writers working on the web. And it means increased accountability in posting pages and, in the long run, a reduction of drivelous spam.

Google is also pushing Google Plus in this, making it just a little bit more necessary to use your Google Plus account, even if they are no longer pushing it in search results.

Inbound Marketing (aka Internet Marketing)

September 26th, 2012 1 comment

There’s a great new post at OutSpoken Media summarizing what is meant by inbound marketing or what we here call internet marketing (same thing).

What is meant by inbound marketing? Well, basically it’s anything you do online to try and attract attention… and the fact is that SEO is only a basis for a whole suite of things. In my take on things, you need to have SEO as a basis because search is still the biggest public driver of traffic. (Otherwise, in the case of almost every website I look at, all you have is an online brochure or a corporate website that people look at only because they know your company.) The other traffic drivers (social sites, email marketing, referrals, webinars, guest blogging, hey, even backlinks… in other words all your inbound marketing) should be built on top of a site that is optimized for search.

The image below from SEOMoz summarizes everything that is meant by inbound marketing or what we might also call internet marketing (as in the tagline at the top of my site).

 

From Inbound Marketing is Taking Off by Rand Fishkin

You need to look at the role of video in your marketing… of e-newsletters, of webinars, podcasts and white papers… and any of the above that is relevant to your online marketing. These all need to be built into your marketing strategy.

The article cannot tell anyone how to prioritize these or how to actually use any of these. (For example, what kind of video marketing is right for your company? That’s a contentious question right off the bat for anyone looking at investing in video.)  That’s where experience, savvy and luck (honestly) come into play. (You can’t get lucky if you don’t do anything though).

Two Kinds of SEO’s

September 20th, 2012 No comments

I just published a guest post at one of Ann Smarty‘s websites, DailySEOTip.com. The gist of it? Too many people in SEO are only in it for the money. The other kind of SEO most likely “fell into it,” has a healthy skepticism about the industry and is more interested in telling you how to mix SEO into what you really want to accomplish with your site. Guess which kind of SEO I am?

Check out the full article for yourself at Daily SEO Tip.

Categories: search marketing, SEO Tags:

Shareaholic Inadvertently Demonstrates the Value of Search Marketing

September 8th, 2012 No comments

Shareaholic released a report this week that was ostensively focused on the fact that Pinterest was continuing to rise as a traffic driver. Pinterest, the current “it” site of social media is closing in on a 2% share of traffic sources for sites using Shareaholic. Wow, we obviously need to be spending more of our marketing budget on this traffic-driving behemoth.*

The writer for Shareaholic also notes that there was  a drop in organic traffic that “does not mean the death of search engines.” This is the typical astute analysis you get from a blog promoting a social media app. The writer fails to note that there was actually an overall drop since January of social media sites. Add up the market share from social media sites and they fall from ~9.9% in January to ~9.5% this past month. Nobody’s saying that social media is dead, though… at least, not “social media experts.”

What’s missing from the chart is paid search traffic to the sites that Shareaholic is tracking. Any site that uses Shareaholic is likely a commercial site using a variety of strategies that will often include blackhat (or at least grey hat) SEO tactics and Adwords.

As has been well-covered in the search marketing industry this year, Penguin and Panda updates have reduced organic traffic to commercial sites in a big way through the deinidexing of link networks and reduction of other spam and blackhat tactics. That’s the real story here isn’t it?  Add up the totals for all of search engines or all of social sites and both numbers have dropped. So where did the market share go? I find myself siding with all the cynics, that this is what it is all about for the web’s biggest money-printing machine.

Image courtesy of shareaholic.com

*Let me recant. Pinterest is a great traffic driver for certain kinds of websites. Pinterest is known to heavily appeal to women, and some sites see Pinterest traffic in the range of 20% and higher. Certainly, though, not every site is suited to Pinterest.

Categories: search marketing, SEO, social media Tags:

Recent SEO Successes

August 12th, 2012 No comments

The Portfolio link above has been updated to highlight success in the last 18 months. Being busy is, as one of my clients likes to say, “a good problem to have” but it is still a problem. The dog days of summer, though, have afforded me some time to add a new page on recent successful SEO.

Sites I’ve profiled vary widely, and by no means does the page cover everything we’ve seen success with in recent months. It also does not discuss some of the “challenges” we’ve faced in the last year. But the same truisms of the past still hold: hard work yields positive results, perseverance pays off and so does investment. SEO is still the biggest part of any content or traffic strategy.

I have seen companies dump lots of energy and time into social media to make sure that they are on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and other hyped new sites on the block (you know, like FourSquare, Digg and other failures). But Google (not Google Plus) remains (by far) the biggest traffic driver for any web publication I’ve seen (and I have access to at least 30 different sites). Keep on investing in SEO, people. It’s alive and kicking and will be for the foreseeable future.

In other updates, Contact is now a fairly robust section of the site, including an About page and a page called Web Presence. Here’s to a great finish to 2012 and lots more growth!

Categories: search marketing, SEO Tags:

When Web Pages Actually Hypertext

September 17th, 2010 No comments

(Or: something funny happened on the way to getting a backlink)
Backlinks are one of the core weapons in anyone’s SEO arsenal. Like so many webmasters, website owners or search marketing specialists, I have never been a big fan of acquiring backlinks. It’s a genuinely painful process for the most part. And it gets harder all the time to get legitimate backlinks from other sites. They want money (I don’t do this; I’m rightfully scared of Google whacks), they think you should link back to them (nope, same reason). Or you comment or participate in a site that nofollows your link or doesn’t allow the link to be active (I’m looking at you, Yahoo Answers).

In the early days of

In the early days of "hypermedia" relevant content would be easily and freely linked

Recently I answered a question on a forum by pointing the questioner to a site I work for, adding an html link. You know, those things the Web is supposed to be made of? Oddly, the forum’s owners allow links to be active, no questions, no nofollow, no problem. The backlink probably helped the ranking of my client’s site a little… but what else happened was a bit unusual. The link referred scads of traffic to the client’s site. As in, noticeable amounts. In fact, nearly as much as the site currently gets from Google for generic search terms.

Pretty cool.

….But then again that’s what good backlinks are supposed to be really about. I mean, right? If a link is relevant to the rest of the content on the page and useful to the page’s visitors it ought to improve the rank of the page linked to. Right? Yet, I doubt that this is accounted for in Google’s algorithm. A link is either nofollowed or followed and that’s probably as sophisticated as Google gets. I’m speculating but with good reason.

Anyway, what’s sadly surprising is that I’m surprised.

How did we get here, I wonder? How did we get to the point where a backlink that actually directs traffic is noteworthy and out of the ordinary? Why do some sites refuse to allow links that ought to drive web traffic (yep, you again, Yahoo Answers). Is it all Google’s fault for over-determining links and not coming up with a way of better grading them algorithmically?

Maybe.*

But anyway, for now, I’m happy that my client is getting so much traffic from a legitimate link to their site.

Do you honestly think Google grades links algorithmically in terms of how effective they are at driving traffic to the target site? Incorporating things like bounce rate, time on (target) site, etc? How much weight do you think they put on any of those variables versus plain old, easy-to-understand follow vs. nofollow?

*Off topic: but some people who I don’t agree with think that links are bad. (This is a whole other argument, of course.)

Four Quick Insights Into the Mobile Web for Small Business

September 10th, 2010 No comments

We all know how the mobile web has exploded this year and how it is still exploding. Over the past few months I’ve had numerous experiences with and conversations about designing applications and websites for the burgeoning mobile market. Here are four broad ranging insights you can take or leave.

usability for mobilePeople expect security
Don’t be afraid to create a login for your application or ask mobile users to login. Make this easy (say, ask only for a user name) but protect user security while they are mobile. Mobile usability consultants are sure that users like this or at least don’t mind it.

Don’t worry about iPad applications
The iPad is still running along nicely on all the hype it has had this year but you need an iPad app like you need a hole in your wallet. Seriously, if anyone tells you about their expertise in designing for the iPad, start walking away. Web browsers work fine on the iPad and as long as your website works well on a laptop it will work fine on the iPad.  (Update Oct 27, some confirmation from eMarketer: “mobile device users appear to think browsers offer the better user experience” even beyond the iPad.)

Get listed locally
This ought to be your number one SEO concern when it comes to mobile and it may be the only one you’ll ever need. Most SEO best practices for mobile are the same as they are for desktop but local (e.g. Google Places) has gotta be hu-u-uge for mobile.

If you think about it, there’s every reason to think that Google created local listings partly in anticipation of mobile’s growth. If Google’s local listings are not already generated based on your GPS signal, Google will be rolling this out soon, you can bet.

Quick tip about Google Places: If your company or chain has multiple offices or stores, be sure to list the office or outlet closest to the city centre. There are a number of SEO people who advise that local listings are ranked to some degree based on proximity to city center. I’m not saying this will help your ranking in Google Places but I’m 100% sure it won’t hurt.

One more thing: I’ve had to tell this to a number of people lately: Google Places is free. Free, no cost, I’m 100% sure of that. Oh, and you should also list locally with Bing and any of those other guys, too.

This is a very young demographic
That doesn’t mean you only focus on trendy 2.0 graphics and all that. This means that you understand that this group behaves fundamentally differently in many ways.

They think differently. Here’s one example: younger users are much less likely to want to use a call center and if they do they are going to be ashamed to have to do it. Make help available and make it easy for them to help themselves and figure out how to do it on their own.

Note that a significant portion of this demographic is using their parents’ money. They may need their parents’ approval to buy certain things or do certain things. Figure out how to use this in your mobile site or application without it being intrusive or embarrassing.

Ensure usability if you’re serious
The best way to be sure that your site or application is mobile ready is to hire an experienced mobile usability company

Categories: search marketing, SEO Tags: ,

Is the Best SEO Strategy Today Still The Long Tail?

October 6th, 2009 1 comment

In the world of SEO, links are still considered the bread and butter of most SEOs and linkbuilding is the most espoused strategy by the SEO industry. There is no doubt that inlinks will always be seen as critical to the importance of a site in search engine algorithms. However, as an SEO strategy, the practice of linkbuilding has come under increasing fire and indeed becomes more questionable all the time, as a primary SEO strategy for websites.

Long gone are the days when you could cajole naive webmasters into giving you a link for free. Everybody knows the value of a link now and webmasters routinely request a return backlink or they ask “how much is it worth to you?”

On the other side, Google threatens to penalize people who buy links or sell links. You can get away with it, until someone rats you out and then you have a long climb out of the rat hole you’re in. So as an SEO, you’ve blown some money on link buying and then actually lost traffic. What kind of a reputation does that give you, and the industry?

Today, many SEOs are singing the praises of flat site architecture; that is something I espouse as well. But how long before a well crafted flat site architecture becomes commonplace? It does not matter the age of pages involved or the age of the site. Once Googlebot can quickly find all or most of the pages on most sites, the SEO playing field, at least in the sphere of architecture, will be once again even. Mind you, that day is some ways off.

However, when looking back at the past, at the present and into the foreseeable future, my favourite strategy is still long tail content development. I have no doubt that Google values sites with many more pages. In fact, I see sites with relatively high PR, seemingly garnered only from the fact that they have a significant amount of content, whether or not that content has copious or strong backlinks from other sites or not. This is one area where you can’t fake it – either you have the original content or you don’t.

Of course, it is not enough to simply have content – that content has to be crafted to meet the long tail. Good SEOs know how to properly wind in some latent semantic indexing, with just the right mix of keyword rich content and actual substance that might get you some organic links. This is the one area of traditional SEO where you can still work and know that you are doing what Google in fact wants you to do and can have more confidence than most marketers and corporations that you know what you are doing and they very likely will not.

I see over and over again, opportunities to work with company’s developers, marketers and editorial staff to leverage their already existing content to create copious pages that target the long tail of content – that long list of keyword variations related to their particular industry – where it is easy and relatively cheap to do so and where they do not know the value of this strategy. I’ve seen lots of websites grow traffic significantly simply be creating copious pages that meet their potential users down the long tail.

I’m getting those pages online ahead of other SEOs, getting backlinks to those pages ahead of them, and having those pages age (gain authority) ahead of other SEOs.

I see the long tail content strategy I implemented on some old built-for-SEO sites – built long before Chris Anderson started even blogging on the subject – still working very well for those sites.

In my humble opinion, long tail content development is a sure fire SEO traffic-building technique that still really does not get enough attention and respect in the SEO industry. It’s something lost on many companies and web businesses and it’s something that still requires some SEO expertise and experience.

Ideal SEO architecture

September 11th, 2009 No comments

A while ago, Rand Fishkin gave a great whiteboard on flat site architecture. Implicit in his discussion was the fact that you can create a one million page site with every page very visible to search engines – if you execute the architecture correctly.

I did a redrawing of his flat site map for a client today. My graphic skills suck. But the concept is definitely smart.

Ideal SEO architecture with a million pages reasonably close to site root.

Fun with keyword searches

September 9th, 2009 No comments

One of the things I have always loved about search marketing is the insight you get into people. Check that. It’s also taught me things about people that I probably didn’t want to know – for example, the plethora of porn terms you will find associated with just about anything.

Hitwise’s Bill Tancer’s blog touches upon this quite often. But, still, SEOs seldom discuss this. Is there anything that lets you know more about ‘what makes people tick’ than deep research into keywords for any subject or industry?

I’ll never forget looking up video game keywords a few years back, and trying to parse out keyword searches related to the then-hit (and since made into a movie) Hitman game. I found it really hilarious that there were at least 50 searches a month for ‘hire a hitman.’  I found out there were even sites devoted to the subject of hiring a hitman that supposedly protected identities and “set you up.”  I suspect that  howhirehitman.com/ might very likely be a sting operation, but in 2004, South Korean police arrested a college student who offered assassination services by operating a ‘killer-for- hire’ web site.

According to Yahoo’s keyword tool back then, the number of people typing the keywords “hire a hitman” into a search window was 50 per month. According to Google’s keyword tool (I just checked) that number is now 1900 per month.  Now what does that tell you about the world today?

It’s interesting what you learn about people when you are doing research…… just one of the reasons I absolutely love being in this industry.