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

  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:

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 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, 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:

Post-Penguin, Guest Blogging is a Great Backlinking Strategy (Again)

September 14th, 2012 No comments

I’ve gone back to guest blogging in a big way in the last few weeks as one ideal strategy for outreach and link building in the post-Penguin era. In the wake of recent events, I think this works again, where for quite a while it was frustratingly inadequate compared to the spammy linkbuilding tactics used by competitors.

Guest blogging allows you to get good links from on-theme sites, with varied anchor text from a page full of original content. Those are all ideal qualities of a post-Penguin backlink. Guest blogging is also a good way for companies with limited resources to do some of their own SEO and (forget SEO!) just promote themselves.

Image from

Of course, the question with guest blogging is so often, why wouldn’t I put content on my own site first? Well, of course you put content on your own site first. But guest blogging allows you to go beyond your own narrow subject area. You would for guest blogging opportunities on blogs about subjects that are slightly lateral to your site’s own subject. For example, is your site about construction tools? Go to handyman websites and write some tool reviews that they would find, uh, handy. Google will view this as a relevant link, as your sites will share some keyword relevance. You won’t be duplicating content you should already have on your site and you’re definitely not shooting yourself in the foot by beefing the content of a direct competitor (not that they are likely to accept a guest post and backlink from you).

Wait, what’s Penguin?
For those who don’t know, Penguin was an algorithm update by Google back in April that is still poorly understood. It’s worth taking a look back, for a second here.

Many people initially claimed that Penguin was all about deindexed link networks but that is far too narrow (that link only discusses that claim and also discusses Penguin very nicely, in fact). Others claim that Penguin targeted affiliate sites and if your site was a thin site with not enough content you got hurt by Penguin. I have argued this myself (sporadically) and I’m still testing the effect of affiliate links on post-Penguin SERPs, through some testing on my own affiliate sites. Others argued that things like spammy footer links or spammy keyword heavy titles were an important part of this update that was originally called an “over-optimization penalty.” For its own part, Google explained the update using one horribly obvious example of spam.

All of the theories above are probably true, each in part. Penguin wasn’t a one-signal tweak to the algorithm. It was multifaceted, as all major updates are. Keyword stuffing and weak variation of internal anchor text are other things that Penguin likely dealt with. In other words, the bird carried a big hammer that targeted a lot of lazy, tired SEO-spam tactics.

I think the best answer to Penguin is to go back to creating quality and variety. One thing I will say is that long pages full of rich content (still optimized, mind you!) on solid, authoritative websites are an ideal way to go in the post Penguin era. Be an authority and be associated with fellow authorities (through, say, guest blogging on their sites).

That’s really only a brief foray into looking at Penguin and I could spend a huge blog post on fully distilling Penguin… maybe I should… or maybe we should note that Penguin is part of Google’s endless parade of changes all intended to improve search results, a small piece in a never-ending process for Google. There is another update coming to Penguin soon, Panda is being updated all the time and Google makes dozens of other tweaks every month.

And by the way, this post and – every post about Penguin (or Panda, for that matter) – seems like an incrimination of sorts. No client site of mine was affected by this update but my own “cobbler’s kids” (my own sites) were affected but they were admittedly thin; notably, a site I had purchased only a couple months before was severely whacked. For another thing, as already stated, the bird had a big hammer and affected more SERPs than it probably meant to. Even Google offered an appeal form, the first time I think we’ve ever seen anything like that.

Getting back to guest blogging…
One important point in all this is that you need to interact with the rest of the web, give people information and show that you are relevant. Go back to the basics of establishing your authority and relevance. And guest blogging is one perfect way to do that.

I’m just going to take this opportunity to discuss some guest blog posts I’ve written. If you Google the subjects here and view these posts you’ll see that guest blogging is not all about PageRank anymore, and relatively new sites can get you lots of retweets and other good stuff:

  • For I wrote a little advice piece about “How Designers Can Coexists with SEO’s”
  • For I wrote a piece called “How Designers and SEO Still Need Each Other.”
  • I’m working on a piece for an Audi-brand-related site and many other ideas for a variety of sites.

These are all high quality blogs and the posts I wrote for them had to match. I do not understand why companies do not care about being associated with absolutely crappy sites that you get associated with when you do high volume low quality link buys from spammy SEO companies. Personally, I don’t deal in spam.

Categories: 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

*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:

SEO costs are frontloaded but the payout pays off

June 13th, 2011 No comments

Companies starting the long journey of search engine optimization (SEO) have to really take a leap of faith when it comes to investing in SEO. Like many reasonable SEO’s I fully understand that this is painful and that there is uncertainty and insecurity in doing so.

I’m currently working with a number of newer companies who are showing varying degrees of commitment to this process. I can point them to various examples of websites where I took over the SEO and helped them grow traffic but here I’ll offer a fresh look at a case study in SEO investment. This is a broad look at a case that is, in some ways a uniquely successful case (as all successes are) but in other ways typical and even predictable.

benjaminsThe initial approach
This company approached me about two years ago around the middle of 2009 and told me that they were spending X amount of dollars (a mid three figures number) per month on SEO and it wasn’t doing anything for them. Unfortunately, there are many companies and people (let me emphasize unfortunately) who take money in the SEO business without delivering growth or, at least, measurable value in some respect. This company had built some backlinks from some time before but other than that had done little to continue growing traffic to the client’s website.

Every SEO has their own unique strengths
When I looked at the website’s situation, I realized that I could do a lot to grow the site’s traffic through content development. This is an admitted strength of mine (hence the name of this site) and is a focus of mine vs. the focus of many SEO’s which is linkbuilding (while there are still others who, it seems, are questionable as to whether they have any focus).

The work
I took over the site, got to work and started developing content, telling the site owners that if they invested about $1000 per month I would double their search engine traffic in 6 months time: from about 50 visitors per day to 100 for a concentrated niche that was somewhat competitive (for page one results, anyway) and also highly interested. I never quite topped out on this budget as I follow the old adage to under-promise and over-deliver.

Since the company was already investing money in SEO, though, the investment was relatively easy for them.

Here’s a graph of those first six months:

What you see in the graph is that the traffic was basically flat-lined when we commenced work on SEO for this site. (I say ‘we’ because I did work closely with the site’s developer on some critical changes.) During initial work, traffic rose only very slowly, so little that it barely registers on this graph. We could see progress in terms of pages getting indexed and getting some traffic from new keywords.

However, there was no great payoff and we had promised the client that traffic would double within six months. They kept spending the requisite high three figures per month, though. They may have been growing worried, I’m not sure, but I don’t think I was.

What happened was that there was a cumulative effect of activating the site’s development and continuing to add content as well as working with partners to create links into the site, then tweaking the site structure as we went along. All of that work cumulatively added up to an eventual spike in traffic.

And that’s the way it goes.

After this, the site owners felt that the site had grown enough and they were happy with the amount of traffic they were getting for the investment they had put into it. Of course, others like continued growth, although a doubling of traffic every six months is not likely, especially as you start to top out on terms that you can truly rank for and as you run out of content ideas (as happens with sites that are focused on a small industry or consumer niches).

The point in all this, of course, is that your search engine optimization payout is often frontloaded but in the end there is a payoff. It hurts at first but in the end you will enjoy results and from there, clients can decide to continue to grow traffic or simply enjoy the benefits of your investment for a while… as long as your competition stays asleep.

Hey, Hey, My, My, SEO Will Never Die

May 30th, 2011 2 comments

I’ve been working in the Search engine optimization business for over seven years now. And while it is not a complicated business, I am amazed at how much it has continued to grow and also, how often I have heard the phrase “SEO is dead.” Let me say a bunch of things about that.

First, some history…
When I went to my first Search Engine Strategies conference in Toronto in 2005, the Keynote Speaker was Danny Sullivan. He talked about how he was one of the first people to take search seriously. He was critical to the organization of many of the first SES conferences and he was told as early as the late 1990’s that “search engine optimization probably has about three to five years.” Well, by then it was already eight or more years later, he noted, and the crowd at that conference was the biggest yet, as were crowds at all conferences. That was over five years ago. In 2007, Jakob Nielsen said, “I am pessimistic about the long-term prospects for SEO jobs…. but maybe I am wrong.”

And then there’s the old saw, “SEO is dead.” An extremely prophetic fellow from 2008 gets number one ranking for a search for the phrase; according to his post, the industry will be dead by November of this year (right after the rapture?) Recently this other prophet said it again. When Google Caffeine was announced, other (in this case, remarkably badly informed) soothsayers said that this was ‘it’ for SEO; ditto for this year’s Panda I’m sure, although I may have grown blind to seeing the phrase by now, so I don’t remember seeing it in print anywhere. Clickz published this “SEO is Dead” post in 2007 and then went on to proclaim the value of SEO in another article, three years later. The latter article (predictably perhaps) generated more comments, interest and agreement.

Every one of these sage prophets of doom (like all prophets of doom, we might add) has been dead wrong. (Of course, though, being wrong is no reason to stop saying the very same thing again.)

Is SEO here to stay?
Probably, people.

In early 2010, SEMPO announced that companies predicted an SEO spend of 14% increase over what they’d spent in 2009 (long after SEO should have been long dead).

And later in the year, Rand Fishkin released details of his 2010 survey of the industry. The reason it was a bit late was because he got more responses than he ever bargained for. The industry was growing much more than even he realized. One survey question discussed spending and survey results told that even in the US (where outsourcing and a weakened economy should have taken a big bite out of the market), over 70% of respondents indicated an increase in demand for SEO services.

Rust Never SleepsAll forecasts for the year 2011 show that search engine optimization and search marketing budgets rule the day for any company serious about getting found on the web. Budgets for SEO (and its close sister SEM) are growing and show no signs whatsoever of slowing down. SEMPO predicts that 2011’s increase over 2010 will be greater again – not just in money but in percentage of growth (16% this time).

In other words, the search engine marketing and search engine optimization industries are still vectoring! After all this time. So where, O death is now thy sting?

Like Rock and Roll, SEO will never die. And here’s why.
All of this reminds me of a feature article I wrote in graduate school about rock and roll music. In the essay I discussed how rock music had been declared ‘dead’ throughout its history (by Don McLean, by The Who and by a lot of other people no one should remember, including Lenny Kravitz). But like Neil Young rebutted, rock and roll will never die. I argued that the reason for this is simple. It’s because the idea is timeless: rebellion, anger, and crashing away on drums and guitars will never, ever go out of vogue permanently. It might change, it might go through some valleys but by the nature of the beast, there will always be a way to renew it. It’s not necessarily tied to a form but to an idea with staying power.

The same holds true for SEO.

Why? Simple: because search will always be done by machines, based on algorithms and there will always be a gap in the logic of the algorithm. And if we’ve learned anything from the Terminator movies, the Matrix and every other movie that explores the Frankenstein complex it is that people are more resilient and adaptable than machines. There will always be a way to game search results for profit. And of course if you didn’t know this, search is never going to go away, either, because people will always be looking for new information.

And when they do they will use a machine that is using an algorithm to search for that information and that algorithm will give privilege to certain qualities of the information and someone somewhere will be gaming that algorithm in order to be seen as the source for that information… because there will be money in it.

And I’ll bet that 20 years from now… 30, 40, 50 years from now, people will be listening to rock music as they use a search engine (I’ll even bet Google, in some form), and someone somewhere will be listening to Neil Young as they do so, and they will be singing along “…There’s more to the picture than meets the eye…”



Categories: SEO, the SEO industry Tags:

New Years Update to Top Canadian Songs

January 3rd, 2011 9 comments

Over Christmas break, I updated my list of the top 100 Canadian songs to take into consideration all the feedback I have had over the past year. I think it is much improved. It goes far beyond 100 songs now, which was always much too short a list.

The page now receives over 1000 visits per month, except for this past September when Bob Mersereau released a book with the same name and concept, and Google visits reached over 1000 per day. On Canada Day weekend, the list received over 250 visits from fellow patriots.

I actually put a fair bit of work and research into the update and I think the list of 400+ songs is quite comprehensive.

Comment or offer helpful suggestions on the revised list, below.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

SEOMoz’s State of the Industry 2010

November 19th, 2010 No comments

SEO is Dead!” says some link-baiting twit somewhere, once every few weeks.

There are even times I wish it were true.

But SEO is very much alive and well. SEO Moz released results of its industry survey earlier this week, taking longer than usual to do so because they had more reponses than they thought they would, presumably because there are now so many more people doing search engine optimization somewhere, in some capacity.

The results were informative and even infographic!

I took part…. but alas, was not the 1 in 10,000 winner of the iPad. 🙁


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