In the two previous parts of this post, I discussed mostly about the general factors that help in getting a site optimized to the highest order of ranking on the Google search pages. In this last part, I will concentrate more on some of the technical factors. Images used in a site should have separate [...]
The Problem: You run a website that allows for user-generated content like job listings, rental properties, classified ads, personals or even UGC products (think eBay or Etsy). Thoughtless users, thinking only of themselves and the time they’re going to save, wreck your SEO by posting the same content they’ve put up on ten of your competitor’s sites. This creates duplicate content issues for you instead of that dream of Web 2.0 SEOs – free, unique content. It can definitely be frustrating.
The Symptoms: The search engines start by simply not listing your pages, but sometimes it gets more severe and whole subsections of your domain go unspidered or unindexed because the engines’ algos have determined that you’re a clearing house for material they’ve already seen and don’t need again. In rare cases, this might even cause completely unique, valuable material to be excluded from the visible SERPs.
Posted by Tom_C
I recently read a couple of posts on e-consultancy about the state of play with major UK retail brands and how they perform online. First was 10 things Asda could do better online, which while I enjoyed didn’t touch on any of the SEO failings of these companies. Kevin’s Supermarkets ignoring SEO for major keywords post touched more on SEO which was nice but I wanted to go into a few more meaty things so here’s my review of the state of play with SEO for major UK highstreet retailers.
While the point of this post is to highlight common mistakes and not to call out individual brands, inevitably I’ve mentioned specific names as examples. This isn’t an attempt to cause offence and I appreciate that even if you know what the right answer is it can be difficult to implement using legacy systems.
Who said keyphrases were important? Sometimes you’re just too cool for school. Don’t listen to all those other guys telling you how important keyphrases are – surely it can’t be that important can it?
Posted by randfish
This may seem like old hat to many SEOs, but it’s a tip that never fails to get an "oh yeah!" during client meetings. The concept is simple – in any given search engine optmization campaign, you are naturally going to form a list of high-traffic, (perceived) high value keywords that are an idealistic goal for your site to dominate. For a site like SEOmoz, those might be the highly competitive terms like "SEO" or "Search Engine Optimization," while in a field like BuddyTV‘s it might be "tv shows" or "tv news."
The problem is that while these keyword searches seem like no-brainers, ranking for them can take a remarkable amount of effort on both the content and link building side. To warrant that investment, you need to know, from a business perspective, that financial returns will accompany the rankings. One great way to do this is to use paid search to investigate the likely ROI of visits from those keywords. Buy the keyword traffic for a few weeks or a month and measure visitors via a segmented tracking campaign (check out this post on action tracking to learn more). If the visits that arrive via those searches convert well and produce value, you know that a serious investment is warranted. If, however, they turn out to be tire-kickers and have a low propensity to produce returns, you can re-focus on higher ROI targets.
There’s just a few valuable tips to bear in mind when you’re pursuing this process:
- Paid search traffic can behave differently than organic traffic, so don’t take the figures at 100% accuracy. Build in some room for error, and you’ll create far better expectations.
- When crafting your PPC campaign for test purposes, make sure to narrow to exact match so you don’t accidentally measure traffic that’s coming in for longer tail or modified versions of the search query. It’s great to do this and measure response in a PPC campaign, but with SEO, you won’t be able to naturally rank for those same variants unless you identify and target them individually.
- Make sure to narrow to a geographic area, especially if your keywords contain any potential local intent or local modifiers. Otherwise, you can seriously over/under-estimate.
- Keep seasonal variation/flux in mind. Use Microsoft’s Keyword Forecast or Google Insights for Search to help out. Volume fluctuations usually indicate shifting intent as well, so purchasing keywords in a down period can hamper the accuracy of your forecasts.
That’s it for this week’s headsmacker. I’ve got a very personal post I worked on during my plane flight back from LA this weekend coming soon (hopefully tomorrow), and we’re also launching our new blog etiquette guidelines and some explanations this week, so stay tuned!
BTW – If you somehow missed it, go back and check out Danny’s brilliant post from last week on analyzing the Top 100 Blogs. It flew under the radar a bit, but is worth a thorough examination.
Posted by willcritchlow
In my opinion anyone working in marketing should be reading Seth Godin’s blog. Seth is a new marketing expert and his brainstorms and thoughts regularly give me new ideas. I am in the middle of reading one of his books – Meatball Sundae – its contents won’t surprise anyone who reads Seth’s blog; it’s premise is that mass market products are "meatballs" and the new marketing (in which he includes SEO) are "sundae toppings". Trying to add sundae toppings to meatballs results in a mess, and organisations need to be built from the ground up with new marketing built in.
We’ll get on in a second to situations where this isn’t exactly true, but the basic premise is certainly tempting:
- Paypal wasn’t done by an established payment provider – it was a start-up
- ebay’s marketing looks nothing like Sotheby’s
- Amazon apparently gets ~30x the traffic that Walmart’s website gets
There are a few situations where I would disagree with the conclusion that you always get a mess when you add new marketing to old businesses – particularly in SEO – understanding the basics of SEO (not even linkbait etc. but just keyword research and basic technical on-page SEO) can be enough to form a valuable sales channel for old-school businesses.
There are "meatball" businesses like Tesco (our largest supermarket in the UK) who have broadly understood SEO (although they have a long way to go in some areas, they are miles ahead of the competition) and who are now popping up as competitors across many many verticals.
I therefore think it can be possible to translate old-school success into SEO success with some creativity, and it is still possible to start up in traditional ways in many sectors and at least gather local search traffic through basic SEO techniques. Even when the website is effectively an afterthought to the core business.
It is an analogy that has great use for those of us who have to sell SEO and even more so for those of us who have to explain to over-enthusiastic prospects that SEO is not a magic switch we have under our desks marked "Google rankings".
What do you mean by link building? How do you do link building?
There are a variety of ways of ‘building’ links – some to be recommended and some definitely not:
- Directory links and those that you get automatically just by asking / submitting
- Asking for each link and "selling" to the individual webmasters
- Link worthy content (and asking for links off the back of this)
- Linkbait through social media / viral ideas
- Buying links (through a network)
- Buying links individually
These are all the ways normally discussed of getting links (OK, OK, I’m sure I’ve missed some that are technically different but almost anything will actually fit into one of these categories).
But meatball sundae teaches us that there is another way:
- Build your business in such a way that it acquires links
For most of us working on the agency / consulting side of SEO, it is hard to make business model changes (certainly fundamental ones) to our clients’ businesses, but if I was starting a new business, you can be sure this would be a priority of mine. Even in established businesses, it can pay to think like an entrepreneur when looking for ways of shaping the business for links.
Lessons we can apply
I am a big advocate of looking for ways that clients’ businesses can support link acquisition. For those of you at the expert seminar this week, this fits closely with Rand’s presentation on enterprise link building strategies. It became clear at the seminar that there are a lot of in-house SEOs who read SEOmoz and for you guys (or agencies working with larger clients) I think a critical success factor will be exactly this.
In no particular order, here are a few ideas I have had on this subject (I’d love to see more in the comments):
Partnerships and content syndication and all other ideas from Rand’s presentation
Rand’s presentation at the expert seminar this week talked about this and a variety of other enterprise link-building tactics. I have tried to avoid re-using his ideas (apart from the unicorn link, below). All of his ideas belong in this list as well. If you weren’t there, they’ll all be out on video soon…
Releasing financial information in link friendly ways
Obviously this is closely regulated, but within the confines of what you are allowed to do, consider carefully how financial information is released as there are many places that are guaranteed to cover it, so some basic linkworthiness and keyphrase research goes a long way.
Allies and internal partnerships
You will have a PR and marketing team. Making friends with them and getting them on your side means that your budget just effectively grew. Both advertising and publicity can attract links if done in the right way. The best advice I can give here is not to preach but rather to help them look good to their boss. Just like any networking interaction – think what you can do for them. Internal networking is no different.
Use your homepage
If you create linkworthy content, and you have a big brand, then you don’t need social media to begin the process of spreading it. If your homepage gets tens of thousands of visitors a day, then hitting your own homepage can be as good as hitting the digg homepage (remembering that your content is going to be a lot more relevant to your average visitor than the average digg visitor). Integrate your linkbait into your business.
Use your email list
We’ve been talking about this one quite a lot at Distilled HQ and maybe it’ll be the subject of its own post sometime soon, but the power of building (what Seth calls) a permission-based relationship with people whereby they not only subscribe to your special offer newsletter but also want to hear when you launch new pieces of linkbait is hard to overstate. Think this is crazy and no-one would ever do that? Consider viral ideas like 10 reasons it would rule to date a unicorn. I think a lot of the people that appealed to would love an email when the next one in the series is released.
This is not an exhaustive list (and hasn’t even really covered the ways your business can be linkworthy in itself) so I’d love to see your ideas and thoughts in the comments…
Quick note to say thanks to everyone whose hard work went into the expert seminar this week. I got a lot out of the sessions and the networking and it was especially good to put faces to avatars when meeting so many people I’ve spoken to online but never met before.
Posted by Darren Slatten
What’s up, YOUmoz! Ok, enough small talk. I’ll get right to the point.
I have a 2-page website that I created for the sole purpose of having something to link to from my SEOmoz profile page. My site doesn’t really do anything or provide any useful information, but I use it to experiment on sometimes. Over the past 3 months, I’ve written several YOUmoz posts that include links to my site with the anchor text World’s Greatest SEO. I chose this phrase because it amuses me… plus it has virtually zero search traffic, and therefore, zero competition. In other words, simply using that phrase in my home page’s title tag was enough to get into Google’s top 10. After a couple of my YOUmoz posts linked to it, I easily grabbed the #1 spot in Google.
As you might have guessed, my incoming traffic immediately exploded off the charts and set a new record for bandwidth consumption.
Times were good. But then I got greedy. I added the phrase [worlds greatest seo] to my SEOmoz profile page in an attempt to also conquer the #2 spot in Google.
Unfortunately, my plan backfired as my SEOmoz profile took over the #1 spot and bumped my site to #2. I tried to undo the damage by removing the phrase from my profile page, but it didn’t work. Google still ranked it as #1, claiming that some keywords only appeared in links pointing to the page. So basically, my profile page has enough PageRank to outrank my own site, despite the fact that it didn’t even contain that phrase in the content anymore. In other words, this is what I was looking at:
- PR 0
- Exact phrase used in Title, Description, H1, and paragraph content.
- Exact match anchor text in links from several YOUmoz posts.
- Ranked #2
- PR 4
- Exact phrase not used anywhere on page. Only the words "SEO" and "greatest" appeared on page. "World’s" didn’t appear at all.
- Also had at least one exact match anchor text link from YOUmoz.
- Ranked #1
Now keep in mind that both these pages are mine and I love them both… but my SEOmoz profile is kinda like a stepchild to me, you know? I mean c’mon… I built my site from scratch, using nothing more than a text editor and Photoshop. And now my SEOmoz profile thinks it can just show up and take the #1 spot away from my baby? Ha… not on MY watch, you spoiled little brat!
Anyway… I did what any loving parent would do: I nurtured my own child’s success…by secretly beating my stepchild. How? By keyword-stuffing the living crap out of my SEOmoz profile! Everyone knows that stuffing a page with keywords is bad…so I decided I would TRY to get my profile page penalized for keyword stuffing so that my baby could rise to the top, where it belongs!
Well… the results are in, and I think they’re interesting. Basically, it didn’t work. My SEOmoz profile is still ranked #1, despite the fact that it has a ridiculously-high keyword density.
I’m not going to make any claims or assumptions about whether or not Google penalizes pages with unnatural keyword densities. My only point of writing this post is to share an interesting find. I’ll let everyone draw their own conclusions.
At the moment doom and gloom seems to surround the economy, whether or not search marketing budgets are going to fall remains to be seen though.
photo credit: Reenie-Just Reenie
We’ve had a few clients get more pragmatic with their spend; but generally it doesn’t seem as bad as everyone feared. Though that could easily change.