Archives for search engine optimization

Google+ for Business….well almost

Google Plus Business Pages

Goolgle+ announced today that they are offering pages for business. This is answering a long standing question, when with Google+ be business friendly.  Well, they had been promising the eventual advent of their business Pages, and the day has finally come!…well kind of.

The pages roll out is just that, a roll out. So not everyone can make a page yet. When will everyone be allowed? Good question. Unfortunately I don’t have the answer to that. So though they are not focusing on the exclusivity of the original “invite only” launch, they are likely only giving the “star players” the first shot at the new Page.

Google Plus for Business but not for you

As a user of Google+ you will be able to to add pages to you circles. It seems that the pages will be much like the Facebook Pages we are all accustomed to.  But one distinct edge the pages have will be the indexing. Google will be immediately indexing any business page. This means that when you create a page you are immediately getting an SEO boost to your page. Additionally when you type in a business name, if you add a + sign before the name it will pull of the Plus page for that business.  So type in + SM Cubed Consulting and you will find my business page.

Is the + search a step forward in the next generation of SEO? Maybe it is. It does make me wonder if this will be a change in the Boolean search that traditional search engine algorithm have been rooted in. (In my mind I see lovers of Library Science heads exploding)

The questions that arise are based in the experience from pages on Facebook.  Will you be able to pursue fans or are we reliant on fans finding pages, like in Facebook?  Will this essentially be simply duplicate content? Is there a point to have both?

SEO Killer! Google is the Primary Suspect

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is the primary way to drive traffic to your website. It is what facilitates you coming up in search results and therefore facilitates people going to your website. But Google might be trying to kill your SEO.

SEO primarily operates from the use of keywords. These words are used strategically in your site to help the search engines find your site and match it with appropriate search terms. The better your SEO the better you will turn up in the search results. Really good SEO can result in you being one of the first few websites found in a relevant search.

Google is jumping on the privacy train, but not in a way that users will actually know. They are making it so if you do a search, and you are signed into Google, your search will be encrypted. What does this mean? Good question! This means that the information about your search, keywords and the link you clicked to get to the website will not be shared with the website.

What this means to websites:

When someone comes to your website from a search engine, they use a search term to find your site. That gives them a link to a page on your site. They click the link and go to your site. As obvious as this is, this information is important to your SEO strategy. You want to know the words people are using to find your site. You want to know the links that are bringing people into your site.

The data you will not be receiving due to the new encryption is:

  • Referral Data – This is the link they clicked to get to your site.
  • Key Words- These are the search terms the used to find your site.

This information will not be withheld on ads or sponsored listings, so if you pay for your listing you will still know how the user found you.

Whats the upside?

This is only affective when people are signed into their Google accounts, which is roughly only 10% of the users. So 90% of your organic traffic will deliver data to your analytics. The other 10% will show you that the user came, but not the how’s, what’s or where-from’s.

Why are they killing my SEO?

Good question. The primary argument is this is a step towards increased privacy. Google has often been criticized for being too invasive. They gather and share information about their users. This is giving users the option of increased privacy in their searches. Of course, Google still has this information and that information is still feeding into their ads, sponsored links, stories, etc. So you will not likely notice the increase in privacy.

From the users point of view nothing has changed. From the websites point of view, they are being denied some valuable data.

I heart SEO: Why Quality is King

I heart SEOHow to Organize Your Marketing Budget for SEO

In a world where it seems content marketing, social media and SEO change faster than it takes you to read this blog post, it’s more important than ever to nail down the your marketing budget’s top priorities in terms of what you’ll allocate to SEO. What works? What’s Google looking for these days that will help me rank? How is that different than what they were looking for a year ago? And most importantly, what web solutions do I need to allocate resources to that will most help my company’s SEO performance?

Industry-leading search engine optimization software developer, SEOMoz, published their 2011 Search Engine Ranking Factors report earlier this year. The report can be an essential guide into what search engines are valuing these days. Their analysis should help point us in the right direction when we’re looking to allocate resources to managing our company’s SEO.

One of the most interesting things about the 2011 report was how different the factors are from findings published in the past. For example, in 2010, if you had an exact match domain that included a keyword, you were probably in pretty good shape to rank. Today, that correlation has dropped significantly.

Here are a few things to consider when you’re dividing up your marketing budget:

Quality and Quantity Content

It’s no longer enough to simply have pages that point back to your site with links. It’s also no longer enough to have a ton of low-quality content stuffed with keywords. In the old days of SEO, you could get away with these habits and win some searches. Now you can’t cut corners with your content. Keyword stuffing or hiding won’t work. Creating large volumes of original, relevant, sharable content is more important now than ever.

Google’s crawlers analyze whether your content is relevant to both your website and the sites you link to.

In a sense, our marketing tools have come full circle. Earlier this decade, we were told that unique content was the key to driving traffic to our websites. After all of the SEO shortcuts people have tried to take the past few years, unique content that is relevant to your audience is, once again, king.

If You’re Ignoring Offsite, You’re Missing a Huge Part of the Pie

Offsite SEO accounts for nearly 40% of the SEO pie. If you’re only concerned with what you’re saying on your domain, you’re only doing about half of the work. Things like external links, domain and page authority and social media all play a huge role in how Google perceives you.

It used to be that if you had an external link with anchor text was highly regarded by Google. Not so much anymore. Similarly, if you buy a domain that includes an exact keyword, it’s not as helpful as it used to be. Search engines want to know the context of your domain and content. Links are nice, but what’s the context of the content surrounding them?

User Experience

We all want to find what we’re looking for easily. No one likes feeling like they’ve been tricked into finding a website. People are online looking for answers to their questions or problems, and they don’t want to feel mislead. Google has taken notice and places a value on user experience.

Google analyzes things like clickthrough rates and bounce rates. If people are coming to your website and are bouncing off quickly, chances are, it will affect your SEO. Similarly, if people are clicking through your ads to your website and stay there, you might see a boost.

With the smart phone boom in recent years, more sites are seeing traffic come from mobile users. If you aren’t optimized for mobile, your traffic probably isn’t as successful as it could be.

Today, Google values unique content and context. Those two are the biggest factors in how you will be ranked. Do your marketing resources and investments reflect the prioritization of valuable content, offsite SEO and your site’s user experience?


Justin Shimp is a digital handyman and content author at Smallbox, an Indianapolis web solutions consulting firm.

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SEO…yourself? Optimizing your Personal Brand

Article first published as SEO…yourself? Optimizing your Personal Brand on Technorati.

When was the last time you googled yourself? For many of us, it was not that long ago. But when was the last time you checked your SEO value?

Your what? Personal SEO value? Yes!

SEO, aka. search engine optimization, has more value than just boosting your website search ranking. It can also boost your personal brand.

In my writing I speak a lot about social media and related topics. However, I also frequently reference Smith College. I am an alumnae and a very proud Smithie. Recently when writing I referenced my alma mater. In looking for an image to use with the post I did a quick search for “social media smith college“. I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered that the first two lines of the search results turned up three photos of me and one graphic I created.

Lauren MacEwen Google Image Search

The success of personal SEO branding can be seen when you are associated with other strong search terms

Through my writing, linking and social media efforts I have associated myself with Smith College and social media. This is an honor I will gladly accept. Not to mention in image searches the results are usually flooded with generic clip art and stock photos, it is great to see your own personal branding infiltrating the sea of brand X images.

Social Business

The social business model is becoming the leading trend in business development. Companies are realizing that social media is more than just chatting on Twitter or playing Scrabble on Facebook. It is a way to directly communicate with your consumer base. It is a way to improve your reputation, build your authority, create a new avenue for customer service, and of course sell. Often what happens, especially for smaller businesses, is that one person becomes the voice (and face) of the brand. This is why managing your own online reputation is an important component to managing your online business reputation.

When you become the face of a brand then you are the person that is looked to as the authority. You are the person that is building the trust. You are the one people look to for answers to their questions. The more of an authority you become the more of a resource you become. This will extend beyond your brand. You can actually establish yourself as an authority in your area through personal branding. Do you think people only talk to Mari Smith or Chris Brogan about their services? Of course not. They are authorities on business social media and people look to them for advice and opinions on all avenues of social media, not just ones related to their business.

By building your personal brand you establish yourself as an authority in your topics. Part of the way you do that is by doing SEO on yourself!

SEO Yourself!

  • Get the Byline!

Writing a blog is a great way to get yourself out there. But don’t forget to give yourself the byline. Even if it is your blog make sure that it says “By …” at the top of the post. When the search engines crawl your site, they will also be crawling your name. The more time it comes up, the more you will be associated with keywords in your post

Guest blogging will also help get your name out there. The more bylines you have in more places, the better your personal ranking in Google.

  • Photos!

Every time you use a picture of yourself put your name in the image title, in the alt tag and in the description. You know the picture is you. Your audience might know the picture is you. But search engines do not know the picture is you, so make sure you tell them.

  • Social Media!

Social media is a great way to communicate with industry relevant people. The more you talk to people in your industry the more you will be associated with that industry. The search engines rank Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Sometimes having a conversation with a “influencer” in your industry can give your personal brand a huge boost in SEO. Through the conversations with influencers, they lend you their authority. Not only do other people see that you are talking to them, and they to you, but the search engines see it to. It would be like if CNN linked to your website. Your authority increases because of their authority.

5 Tips for Boosting Facebook SEO

Facebook Search

Is your Facebook Fan Page helping your SEO?

SEO (search engine optimization) is not just for websites. You can also optimize your Facebook Fan Page for better search results. Not only will this help your searches inside Facebook, but it will also help with traditional search engines like Google and Bing. Plus, you’ll increase brand visibility for your Facebook Fan Page and the total visibility of your brand.

70% of brands have not optimized their Fan Pages and are missing out on some great search engine ranking opportunities.

How to boost your Facebook SEO

  1. Get a vanity URL
    The number one thing you need to do is get a vanity URL. This means that your URL is www.facebook.com/brand instead of, for instance,  www.facebook.com/page/brand=87465249. >Tech Tip: If you can’t get your actual brand name, get a vanity URL with your most used search term.
  2. Link to your Facebook Fan Page
    Linking to your Fan Page from your website will let you capitalize on the SEO done on your website. It gives you an inbound link which will help boost your FB SEO. In fact, link from all your pages. The more links, the better the SEO boost. >Tech Tip: Make sure your anchor text is something like “Brand Name on Facebook” and link it to your vanity URL, e.g. www.facebook.com/brandname – not www.facebook.com/brandname=sk?872635
  3. Use your brand name in your post
    Search engines scan the content of your page. If you use your brand name it will help boost the SEO for name recognition. >Tech Tip: Now you can tag the text in your posts for added SEO boost.
  4. Get links to your posts
    Get people to Like your posts. The more people share and Like your posts, the better the SEO value – Likes count as links! >Tech Tip: Post things that ask for social engagement; comments, sharing and Likes. This will drive up your engagement and thus your FB SEO
  5. Use Fan Boxes
    Facebook lets you put Fan Boxes on your website that can show your fans and feature your recent posts. This is a good way to build engagement and drive more fans to your site. >Tech Tip: If you don’t have many fans yet, set your fan box to show recent posts until you get more than 25 fans.

How Sticky is Your Business?

Hand dripping in honey

Is your website sticky or is your business sticky?

Have you seen the recently released study showing that SEO was better at building sticky traffic than social media? It is probably true. When you go to Google and search for a site, you are intending to spend time there. You are looking for it, and the search engine helps you find it. Boom…sticky.

Social media is not a tool for click-throughs, though you will get them. It is not a tool for sales, though you will make them. It is not a tool to drive traffic, though you will do that. Social media is a tool for building relationships with your audience.

This is beyond click-throughs and short term sales. This is more than singular traffic.

When you build a relationship with your audience, you are creating:

  • Brand recognition
  • Loyalty
  • Positive customer service
  • Authority
  • Lifetime traffic
  • Trust

“The best part of relationships is they are protectable assets. When someone likes you, trusts you or finds you credible, it’s very hard to take that away.” –Why Social Media Matters

Relationships take time, and this is where studies that only look at traffic sources and declare that SEO is more effective fail. They are looking at the one time click. They are not looking at the lifetime business relationship.

Relationships are built from a history of multiple experiences and exposures. The formula is simple; the more you interact the deeper the relationship. And because the company reputation is built off this relationship, one bad review or blog post is not going to be able to sully it. Reputations built from interpersonal relationships will not be tarnished by anonymous slander.

Yes, SEO is a wonderful tool that everyone should use. However, you are not comparing apples to apples when you compare SEO to social media. SEO looks at searches. Social media looks at relationships. And let’s face it, when you really like a brand because you tweet and Facebook with them, you don’t need to search for their website because you already know their domain (and studies can’t identify how much direct traffic came from social media followers…yet).

So how sticky is your website? Well, maybe it is time to ask yourself: how sticky is your business?

 

Boring is Better: SEO & SMO

Comic Boring

Illustration by Drew Flahery

When we write our bios, info tabs, blogs and Twitter posts it is easy to get caught up in exquisite verbiage and linguistic eloquence.  When alliteration rolls off your tongue and onto your keyboard, it is easy to get transfixed by the depth of a well written phrase. However, when it comes to SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and SMO (Social Media Optimization), boring is better.

I read a lot – blogs, articles, newspapers, magazines and books. When I am driving and cannot read, I listen to audio books.  Yes, I am a literary nerd.  As many other literary nerds who are also writers know, we love a good turn-of-phrase better than most.  But do you know who reads your website, Twitter posts, updates and blogs when it comes to putting you in search engines?  Well, it is no one with any literary appreciation. In fact, it is nobody. It is a bot.

The bot crawls your site, post or update and looks for keywords.  Those keywords are archived and factored into how, and where, you appear in search results.

SEO and SMO are based on the popularity of words, phrases and links.  If you want to turn up in searches, you need to make sure that you are using words that are relevant to your site or business and words that people actually use for searching.  This is where it gets boring.  You might like the phrase:

“Electrocuted Arachnids”

but that is not what people look for.  Instead write:

“Electrocuted Spiders”

I know it is hard to part with fancy phrases, however no one would search for the first one. Spiders will rule over arachnids every time.

But what about branding?

This is a tricky area.  You want people to search for you using your brand.  That is part of the goal of branding.  But you should not limit yourself to that potential search. Continue your branding but also remember to use relevant keywords. Someone might be looking for you and not yet be familiar with you.

Also keep in mind what it is you are branding. If you are posting from a social media account, it is likely that your name is already branded.  Why do you need to do more?  You are wasting valuable keyword (or hashtag) space by rebranding your post.  If someone is searching for you, they will be able to find you because of your handle. But if someone is searching for your topic, make sure you are positioning yourself to show up in the search. As they say, showing up is half the battle.

Although boring is, well, boring, it is the better way to get better SEO and SMO results.  There are always exceptions to this; if your field is saturated by something like coffee and your specialty is jellybean java, you are better off using jellybean java rather than coffee, but probably not to the exclusion of coffee.

It is important to know what keywords are relevant to you, then use those words even if they don’t turn heads for stylistic ingenuity.