Archives for search engines

How to Give your Page an Edge on Google+

Now that Google+ Pages has launched you might be asking yourself, do you really need another page for your business?  The answer is yes.  Though there is a lot of debate on whether Google+ is going to be a truly competitive social network for Facebook, there is one area that Facebook cannot compete and that is SEO.

SEO (search engine optimization) is one of the most powerful tools that Google+ has to offer a business.

  1. When you create a page you are instantly indexed
  2. You are creating more backlinks to your website
  3. Direct Connect – Google’s new way to search online

Direct Connect is one of the more interesting elements of the SEO boost. It is trying to give pages more visibility in the search engines. Now if someone is searching for you page all they have to do is  add “+” before your business name, ie. “+Your Business “, and they will pull up your page.

Harnessing Pages for Your Business?

Lets walk through setting up a basic business page and then we will look at how to give your page an edge.

Google+ Pages Create a Page1 . Sign up: Go to: http://www.google.com/+/business/

  • Click “Create your Goolge+ Page”
Google+ Page Categories

Select your category

3. Category: Select the main category for your page.

  • Local Business or Place- this is for if you are primarily local or have a physical location.
  • Product or Brand- if you are creating a page for one specific product item or for a brand. Tip: Bloggers this is where you want to be!
  • Company, Institution or Organization- this is the general business category
  • Arts, Entertainment or Sports- anything having to do with these categories, though often these are people like artists and musician or groups of people like a sports team.
  • Other- If you just don’t quite fit anywhere, you can assign your own category. Tip: I don’t really recommend this unless you have to because you are missing out on the “category” search benefit of Google+.

4. Sub-Category: After you select a main category you will be able to select a sub category that best describes you.

5. Page Name: Enter in your page name. This is what everyone will see as your page name and how people will find you. Do not make it too complicated and keep it to something that is easy to remember.

  • Though vanity URLs are not currently available, they will not be long in coming and you would rather have plus.google.com/mywebsite than plus.google.com/dontyouwishyourwebsitewerecoollikethis as your URL. Keep it clean and keep it simple!

6. URL: Enter in the URL for your website.

7. Age Restriction:You can opt to have age restriction on your page. This is good if you talk about mature issues, alcohol or drugs. The ages restrictions available are 13+, 18+ and 21+.

Google+ Page Profile Photo

Your profile image has a square aspect ratio, pick a photo that looks good cropped to a square.

8. Profile Photo: Your profile photo is your face to the world. You may want to put your logo in here, or a picture of you. But whatever you decide make sure that the picture is square. Unlike Facebook, Google+ Pages give limited real estate to your pic.

9. Tag Line: This is where you get to put some quick little tid bit about your business. Think of this as your elevator pitch. You want something that describes your page and essentially draws someone into the page. Tip: Give yourself an SEO boost and use keywords in this tag line.

Once you are done you will be asked if you want to share your page on your Google+ profile. Go ahead and say yes. This is a great way to share your page with your various circles.

Give Your Page an Edge

You may be thinking that the set up process was really easy, and wondering why you did not have to fill out a ton of questionnaires about your business, information, description, contact information, etc.  That is because you don’t have to have any of that information on your page. But trust me, you want all that information on your page.

Once your page is set up, you will want to go view your page profile and start editing information.

When you click the edit button (a blue button on the top right of your page profile) it allows you to edit nearly all sections of your page.  All you need to do is click on a section to edit.

Google+ Page Description

  1. Introduction: Write something descriptive about your business. This is your space to make your first real introduction and tell people what you are all about. Make sure you use key words that are related to your brand to given an even bigger SEO boost.
  2. Contact Info: You can add an email address or phone number. To protect your privacy, I recommend just an email address. You don’t necessarily want anyone who can find your page able to call you.
  3. Website: This is where your website URL will be.

A note on Privacy: you can set the level of visibility as you set up these fields. You can control whether you only want your circles to be able to see this information or if you want it completely public. If you are worried about privacy you should restrict your visibility to “only circles” or even custom circles.  For your website, I recommend leaving this viewable by anyone.

Linking Relationship

Google+ offers another way to build good relations with other websites. Like a blog, where you can share your blogroll, you are able to share your recommended links. This is to the right column next to your information. If you have websites that you particularly like or support, this is a great way to share them with your followers. Plus this is a great way to breed good relationships with those websites. If you link someone, make sure you reach out to them and tell them.

Photo Strip

Google+ Page Photo Strip

The photo strip is one of the most powerful visual aids of your page. You can add any photo that you like on this strip, and unlike in Facebook, you can place them in any order you like. All you have to do is upload the photo directly into the Google+ Page Circlephotostip. Once they are loaded you can drag and drop them into any position you like.

With a little creative photography you can make your photostrip be an excellent brand ambassador for you page….or you can just have some fun with it and create a really interesting panoramic.

Get Social!

The number one power of any social network is the ability to be social. Pages is no different. Similar to Facebook, you can use Google+ as your page. You can go and add other pages to your circles. You can comment on their posts and interact them.  Though people can add your page to their circle, pages cannot add people to their circles.

On the left column of your page, you will see your profile pic, a button to share your page and then a section showing who is in your circles and who has added you to theirs.  By looking at this section on other pages you will be able to find a lot of relevant and interesting pages to network with.

The more you network with other pages the more they will network with you. Ultimately the more people who have circled you, the more people who are reading your posts. So get out there and network!

 

Google+ Pages for business is not hugely different than Facebook Pages. However, the SEO value they add is reason enough to get a page set up for your website. The pages are easy to set up and offer the opportunity for more exposure to your website. So go out there and set up a Page and make sure to tell everyone about it!

Syndicated on BlogHer.com

 

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.

Hello..Hello…Hello…Is anyone out there? and Other Blog Traffic Questions

Blog Traffic

Is your traffic quality or quantity?

Traffic. Traffic. Traffic. This is what everyone wants. You want to know how to get it and how to get more of it. Of course you do. You don’t want to write and feel like the sound of crickets chirping are the only thing coming back. So lets look at how you get traffic; how you understand your traffic; and why you shouldn’t care.

How do you get traffic?

The best way to get traffic to your blog is to post frequently. You should be blogging AT LEAST 3 times a week. Many people don’t like this answer. But content if content is king then frequency is the entire monarchy. The more you post the more current and relevant you appear. You will also get better SEO results, because the search engines will crawl your site more frequently. Also frequency builds familiarity. People will start seeing your content more often and will be more likely to start reading you.  The top blogs in the world all post more than 5 times a day. Not saying that you have to become Mashable, but if you want traffic you need to generate content.

Other things that help are using keywords to boost your SEO. Give yourself the “thumbs up” on Stumbleupon. Give yourself a “plus” on Google+. Tweet out your blog posts at least 3 times a day and post it on Twitter. Social sharing is a very powerful tool for getting the word out there and getting people to your site. But still…mainly get out there and write.

Understanding your traffic

I admit that I have spent many hours pouring over my analytics on Google and Statscounter. I have gotten really excited when I see a post cause a spike in my traffic.  But these numbers are not the end all be all of your traffic. Despite what many people say, blogs do not live and die by these numbers.

Analytics are a great way to understand the flow of traffic to your site. You will see a lot of information about where you organic traffic is coming from, like Google, Twitter and Facebook. However it does not account for all the ways in which your readers can consumer your blog.

Every blog has an RSS feed. RSS stand for really simple syndication. People can use RSS readers to subscribe to your feed or they can receive it by email. People who use readers or get your blog via email are called subscribers. Services like Feedburner are RSS managers, making it easier for you to track your subscriber traffic. They will let you know how many people are subscribing. However, this is not entirely accurate. There are readers, like Mac mail, that are not counted by Feedburner.

Subscribers are not counted by your analytics unless the person actually goes to your blogsite. Subscribers have the ability to read your posts in their email or through their RSS reader without ever going to your site. So they are still consuming the information, they are just not giving you the hits to your site.

Why you shouldn’t care

Quality is what matters not quantity. If you have a small but dedicated following on your blog, then you don’t need thousands of hits. Hits don’t mean that people are reading. Hits just mean that people are coming to the site. You want readers. Readers will come in the form of subscribers. They are the people who comment on your posts or retweet your links on Twitter. They are your newsletter recipients and the people who comment on your Facebook posts.

So stop dwelling on the numbers. Focus on creating quality posts and the traffic will come!

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.

Follow SmallBox on Twitter: @smallbox

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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.

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.

 

Did you KISS your permalinks? The importance of simplicity.

colorful chain painted on a wall

Are your permalinks pretty, or are they a long messy horror?

Did you KISS your permalinks?  Of course, KISS stands for keep it simple, silly. Short, simple, easy to read permalinks are not only cleaner, but they are important to your SEO, your page load time and the way your site is perceived by visitors and search engines. When it comes to permalinks, simplicity matters.

Permalinks are the permanent web address (URL) for your posts.  Every post has its own unique URL.  A lot of times the default is:

www.yourwebadress.com/f87hne-ijn  or www.blogblog.com/?=145

OK, can you remember it?  I can’t.  When you see this address, does it convey anything to you? Is any information being passed? Nope.

Some permalinks are even longer than that. I am sure you have seen strings of characters that are 3 lines long. If one single letter, number or symbol is wrong then you are directed to a 404 page.  I am actually reticent to click a link that is really long because I question it: could it be spam?

It is hard to think of permalinks as an important part of your business strategy. They aren’t fun, interesting or particularly helpful, so it seems. Generally the only time we think about permalinks is if we are changing their format, and then most of us cringe at the thought of the migration.

Why it matters

  • Search engines don’t like long URLS.  You will have better  SEO if you have short, neat URLS.
  • You can put keywords in your permalinks to help gain higher ranking in search engines.
  • It is very easy to mess up a long URL when sharing links or backlinking
  • Spam? A short clean URL lets people see the path of the link.  A long messy URL can make us wonder where the page is really taking us.
  • Tells you everything. A good permalink can tell you a lot: the date of a post, the category, the keyword, the topic.
  • Clean URLs look more professional. It adds a level of sophistication to your site and shows that you know what you are doing.
  • A bad permalink structure can actually slow down the loading of your page. This has to do with how the page is indexed and read by your server and by the search engines. Here is a great post that addresses this in more detail.

Your blog posts

When you write a new post you should be able to see what your permalink is.  On WordPress, it is directly below the title of your post. Depending on how you have your permalink set, you may have the title of your post integrated into the link.  If this is the case, make sure that your permalink isn’t something like:

http://www.smcubedconsulting.com/2010/07/build-it-and-they-still-may-not-come-why-wont-you-talk-to-me-how-to-get-interactions-on-facebook/

Oh yeah, that is a real link.  Do you see how long it is?  Sure, it tells you that it was posted in July of 2010 and is about why people won’t talk to you on Facebook.  But YOWZA!  It is not as ugly as a string of incoherent numbers, letters and symbols, but it is not exactly clean.

Before you post, take a look at your permalink and check it.  You can edit your link.  Maybe instead of that super long URL, I could have shortened it to:

http://www.smcubedconsulting.com/2010/07/talk-to-me-on-facebook/

It still tells you generally what the post is about without giving you a summary in the link.

Migration:

If you already have a ton of posts, and a horrendous URL, you can still change it.  This is where most people panic.  Because if you change the permalink structure on your site aren’t you changing the URL of every post you have ever written?  Yes.  The way to do that without ruining your SEO, backlinks, trackbacks and inbound links is to use a migration plugin.

The one that I use is the Permalink Migration Plugin for WordPress.

What this will do is create a 301 redirect, which is a permanent redirect for your page. It tells search engines that the old address has been changed to this new address and will automatically send you to that new page. From the visitor point of view, nothing has happened.  From the blog owner point of view, you have just summited the Mount Vesuvius of web issues!

What to do?

  • Get a permalink migration plugin for your blog.
  • Check your links before you post. Make sure they are clean, and shorten them if they are not.
  • Use keywords in the title of your post for better SEO
  • KISS it – keep it simple, silly!