The recent update by Google termed ‘Search Plus Your World’ has invited a lot of criticism from the SEO and the social media arena (Twitter is almost enraged!). While many feel that it would be a unique experience for them to see personalized results in Google searches, many others view the update as an ‘antitrust’ move. Though different people will have different thoughts on the Google+ content integration with Google searches, there are a couple of truths that (I think) nobody should deny.
Here are the five harsh truths that you really need to be aware of, if you just heard about the ‘Search Plus Your World’ update.
#1. It will Impact a Brand’s SEO
As the search results start to get personalized (content pulled in from the searcher’s Google+ network), it’s quite obvious that the public results will be pushed down the SERPs. Yes, if a major portion of your brand’s traffic comes from Google, you’re in trouble. Now, you’ll have a hard time as customers will see the personalized results towards the top by default (when logged into their Google accounts).
#2. Not Everyone Would Notice (or Use) the Toggle Button
The social search shift that’s happened does come along with a toggle button, which users can use to switch from personalized results to global results and vice versa. The bitter truth, however, is not every user will be able to notice or use the toggle button. You can never expect all your potential customers to be as savvy as to switch between personal and public results.
#3. Personalized Results May Not Always be Significant
Now this is a big problem! It’s fine that the personal results will display content shared by the people you know on Google Plus. What’s important to note is whether you trust everyone in your contacts list or circles for recommendations, as you may have thousands of people in your Google Plus network.
#4. Search Results will be Social only ‘Personally’ (not ‘Globally’)
The personalization of Google search results also sends a clear signal that a website won’t rank higher simply because it contains superior quality information. In fact, you won’t be able to see a lot of potential results (or information) while searching on Google logged into your Google account.
Instead of directly promoting Google+ content into the search results, Google could definitely use social data from their social network as signals to differentiate wheat from the chaff. The results that this social search shift will return are only ‘personally social’ and not ‘globally social’.
#5. Google has the Hammer to Make Us all Use Google Plus
Certainly, Google has a wide range of products that it can use to propel the growth of Google Plus further. According to a recent research, Google Plus will boast more than 400 million users by the end of 2012. So, you can never say ‘No’ to joining Google Plus at the cost of losing your organic rankings, can you?
What’s your take on this social search shift by Google? Please feel free to talk back in comments.
Whether you like it or not, Facebook is becoming a part of everyday life–personal and business. Even my last few friends who insisted they would never join the social media revolution are slowly giving in. Why? Because it’s an easy way to keep in touch with people without actually having to talk to them or put out any real effort. And it’s also a great way to acquire news.
Having said that, with so many people joining, I’m finding my friends list getting way too long for its own good. So I’ve been trying to do some pre-spring cleaning. How am I deciding who gets the axe? Well, I’m looking for people who:
1. Constantly complain—I’m a glass-half-full kind of guy. And as most of my friends can attest, I’m pretty much content in all aspects of my life (except I’d love to be rich—but who wouldn’t?). Having said that, I absolutely abhor when people bitch and moan on Facebook. Now make no mistake, I’ve had a few negative status updates in the past. But they’re few and far between. And being that I am generally positive, when I do update to complain about something…well, it matters a bit more as opposed to someone who is just a Negative Nelly. Newsflash, your life isn’t that bad. But mine is because I have to read your constant crap.
2. Give soapbox status updates—I have one friend that I keep on my list only because she’s an old friend. But every time I see her updates, I cringe. Why? Well, they’re always a page or two long. And they’re always about whatever cause she has decided to take on for the day. Could be a certain candidate, a political issue, a news story, or whatever. The messed up thing is, even if I agree with what she has to say, after reading her rants it makes me want to change my stance—just to spite her.
3. Do nothing but self-promote—In the last year, many businesses have started to view social media marketing as a legitimate part of building their brand. So along the way I’ve started liking various companies that have impacted me in one way or another. But I’m starting to regret it. Why? Because most of them post nothing but why I should go visit their place of business or send them my money. ANNOYING. I befriended you to get news on your products and…wait for it…DEALS.
Want me to be your Facebook friend? Great, I’m all for it. Just don’t do any of the above and we’ll get along just fine.
What about you? What drives you crazy enough to push you over the edge and start unfriending?
*Stay tuned for next week when I post about all the stupid stuff I do on Facebook and Twitter that should make people unfriend and unfollow me!*
Guest blogging is a great way to increase authority in your niche and beyond as well as build some great backlinks to your blog, business, or website. Sometimes, especially when it comes to larger site, the big question is when should you make your move. The following are great opportunities to get a guest post on one of your favorite blogs.
1. When the Blog Advertises the Need for Additional Contributors
Do you have your sights set on guest posting for a particular blog? Then one of the first things you should be doing is following that blog religiously. This means subscribing to them via RSS and following them on social media via the top networks (Twitter, Facebook, and Google+). Aside from getting to learn more about the blog, you will be the first to know if and when they invite contributors to their site. Whether they ask for guest bloggers or freelance writers, either invitation means they are looking for more content which makes it a prime time to strike!
2. When the Blog Features a Guest Post
When following your favorite blog, you might notice a day when they specifically say they have a guest post by someone who is not a regular on the site. This is a great opportunity to say that you have been following their blog for a while and were excited to see that they accepted guest bloggers. Could you be the next? You’ll get extra bonus points if you know one of the recent guest bloggers and you get them to introduce you to the blog owner.
3. When the Blog Has Mentioned You
If you have been commenting and interacting with a blog and its owners/writers/editors on social media, chances are one day, they might mention you in one of their posts. So long as the mention is in a positive light, this might be a good chance to jump in. Try sending them a personal email saying thanks for the mention, and then ask if you can write more about the topic at hand in a guest blog post!
4. When You’ve Been Listed
Just recently, I was listed as one of the 20 bloggers to watch in 2012 on ProBlogger. This was a pretty exciting acknowledgement, and one that I could easily use as part of a guest post pitch to another site. It’s essentially a very public testimonial!
5. When You Have a String of Successful Guest Posts Elsewhere
Think about approaching a guest post opportunity like you would a new job. Your first impression on that employer might be your portfolio of work samples. Present the blog that you are pitching a sample of your latest work – make sure those samples are within the same industry and (preferably) on sites that are just as well known. This will show the blog owner that not only have you written for other similar sites, but you had successful posts on those sites as well. There is nothing that a blog owner wants more than posts that will be a hit with their audience.
Have you found other times when the moment was right to ask for a guest post and you succeeded because of perfect timing? Please share your experiences in the comments!
Does your site’s success depend on receiving traffic from users in the local area? Whether you have one storefront or nationwide locations, link building with a local focus is important to keep traffic numbers up. Maintaining your rankings for competitive local terms can require quite a bit of effort. Last month I shared five tips on this very topic here on the SEM-Group.net blog, but I thought I’d give a few more. Here are five more tips on finding local link building opportunities.
Network for Links
Industry or networking events in your local area are prime places to share your business card. Why not take it to the next level and use this as an opportunity to build links? Ask people you meet locally if they have websites or blogs. Can you offer up a guest blog post for them in the future? Maybe they have a partners/link/recommended section on their site. Do research on those you meet to find link building opportunities. Write this information on the back of their business card so you can reach out in the future for possible linking opportunities. Slowly but surely you can build buzz about your company just by offering to write a few posts on a few local blogs or links placed on local sites. Additionally you get some very juicy local links along the way.
Groupon for Links
Recently I attended a Groupon presentation and it was mentioned that local search rankings can sometimes increase when a Groupon is successful and catches on. Certainly makes sense – many sites pickup deals from Groupon and post about them, often with a link back to your site. Some of these sites are specific to your local area and can be the perfect local link for your site. Its reasonable to assume you’d see some possible ranking improvements. Note: some businesses certainly see Groupons diminishing their business rather than helping, so use at your own risk. Really take the time to examine all angles to determine if offering a deal is right for your niche.
Cover Local News
Do you have the resources to blog regularly and become a content publisher? Covering the news or local events is a way some have found success in garnering local links. Who else but local folks want to share news and events in the area. They’ll share your posts and some news might even get picked up by local blogs and news sites – linking back to you as the source. Submit your blog to Google News and get extra pickup and possible traffic.
Have a local cause in mind? Organize a Tweetup at a local bar or restaurant, invite local vendors, bring in a local band and invite the community to get together for a good cause. Even if you don’t have the time to organize one you can take advantage of a good ol’ Tweetup. Look for local tweetups in your area and see if you can become a sponsor and get added to promotion efforts – and of course a link on the site. This higher tech crowd is good to network with and some are also likely to tweet, share on Facebook, write about it, take pictures, and otherwise possibly mention the event and your brand.
Colleges, Universities & Vocational Training Centers
Places of higher education are always looking for businesses in the local area who want to partner with students to help them learn skills for the workplace. Offering an internship program through a local college, university or vocational training center can present a link building opportunity. Proactively search out schools that have an area on their site where they feature businesses offering internships or on their thank you pages with links to their websites. Everyone knows that links from .edu websites can be some of the best – plus you’ll be helping to train tomorrows workforce or get some cheap labor out of the process.
Well, that makes 10 tips for local link building. Have more to add to the list? Please share with us in the comments below!
Maybe it is just me, but does it annoy you when you can’t find a blog post’s date? Sure, the advice to remove the date from your blog post was given by well-meaning people who wanted to help your content always look fresh, but let’s get real. For some niches, where the information is timeless, that isn’t such a bad thing.
But if your blog covers coding, SEO, social media, technology, health, etc., then there should be a date. Then there’s nothing worse than not being sure when something was published, especially if it is advice that could have stopped working about two application versions ago or doesn’t fit the new search engine algorithms. If you’ve seen a blog post with a screenshot, then went to the site and found everything has changed, you probably know what I mean.
So how can you find out when a blog post was published? Here are a few ways, starting from the easiest to the most time consuming.
1. Check out the URL
Sometimes, even though the blog post itself doesn’t have a timestamp, the URL does. You might at least get close enough to a month and a year.
This isn’t always a sure bet though, as most people don’t use a date.
2. Look at the Comments
While many blogs may find the way to hide the timestamp on the post, some of those might not have figured out how to remove it from the comments. Try to find the oldest comment on the post – that should be the closest date to when it was published.
3. Search Using Wolphram Alpha
For blogs that say 601 days ago, 6 months ago, etc., you can use the Wolfram Alpha search engine. Just type in the time period stated, and it will convert it into a date.
4. Google It
Try to search for site:domain.com intitle:keyword in Google. Sometimes the search results will display the date of the post.
5. Subscribe in Google Reader
If you really want to know when something was published, subscribe to the blog in Google Reader. Nine out of ten times, it will show you the post date. You might have to search for the post in question using the search box if you don’t want to scroll, but you should be able to get the date this way.
Some blogs, for some reason, will load only the latest 10 posts, all with the same date. If that happens, leave the feed and come back again… it might just take a few moments to populate all of the data.
The Alternative to Removing Your Post Date
What is the alternative to removing the date from your post and keeping your blog’s content fresh? If you can’t keep up with the post frequency, look to outside sources including guest bloggers and freelance writers. So long as you at least have one post per week, you should be set!
Does a missing post date drive you nuts when you find an article through search? Do you remove the date on your posts for a specific reason? Please share your thoughts and any additional ways to find a missing post date in the comments!
Today’s students are online more than ever, which makes online marketing a prime medium for advertising dollars. Marketing to the much sought after 18-30 year old demographic can be tricky and requires a bit of creativity. Also keeping up on popular trends is important too. If you’re just getting started in this space be sure to do your research.
Thankfully resources abound in this industry, with top higher education marketing blogs sharing case studies, blog posts, video and more on a regular basis. To add to the list, here are my 5 quick tips to help in your efforts to market to college students online.
Optimize for Mobile
Mobile phones with Internet access aren’t uncommon anymore. Just about every 18-30 year old has one (91% of Americans do, according to this survey). So don’t you think your website should be easily accessible and user friendly on a mobile device?
Consider mobile developing a mobile app, simplified navigation, reduced content or text, mobile only version of your site and mobile only features. If at this point you haven’t looked at your site on a mobile device or thought about mobile optimization – you should! (Just found this Google webinar about mobile optimization – check it out!).
Short and Concise
Getting right to the point within the context of your web copy is important if you’re marketing to college students. They don’t want to read flowery sales copy or cheesy testimonials. Get right to the point, be short and concise with your copy. Not only is long copy hard to read on a cell phone, it’s also often unnecessary to get your point across. Keep this in mind as you develop content not only on your website but offsite as well.
Think About Parents Too
Most students cannot afford college, it’s a fact of life. Parents often contribute to children’s education and should be in your thoughts as a marketer. Do you have sections on your site that cater to the parents of college students? Help answer their questions and give them the information they want to see. They’re the ones holding the purse strings.
Don’t limit your efforts to just Facebook because you now that’s where a lot of people spend their time. Diversify your marketing efforts to include other social networking and offsite content marketing practices. Guest blogging can be big in this space too, so don’t count it out. Develop relationships with higher education bloggers and start writing content. Perform keyword research to find long tail phrases students and parents might be searching for, and develop content around those phrases.
Let Them Speak
A recent study found that college students want to hear from other students and that is can play a large role in their decision to attend. Similarly so, if you are marketing a product to this demographic you need to let them see what others are saying about you. Allow comments on your brands Facebook wall, monitor review websites and encourage engagement through social channels. When the need to respond to a comment arises be sure to use your best judgement. A negative review very well could turn into something worse if you don’t respond in the right way. Reviews can be a necessary evil in some cases.
These are just a few quick tips. Have some additional to add? I’d love to hear!
How would you like to win $1000 for publishing a guest post on your blog?
No, that wasn’t a typo; you don’t even have to write a post to win $1000!
While this is the first big blogging contest of 2012, it’s the coolest and simplest contest I’ve seen in a long time. Instead of wearing yourself out by trying to put together the perfect post, you can let the platform do the work for you.
So, what’s the catch? There’s not one. MyBlogGuest is an awesome site that’s holding an awesome contest. In case you haven’t had a chance to check them out before, MyBlogGuest connects bloggers with people who want to write guest posts. Instead of spending time sending out cold emails, MBG provides a thriving community of people who already want this content. What’s neat about MBG is you can benefit from both writing guest posts and accepting guest posts from others.
$1000 Contest Details
This contest is centered around a specific feature of MBG, which is the Articles Gallery. Here’s a quick video that shows how easy it is to use the Articles Gallery to find awesome free content to publish on your blog:
Yup, MBG really does make it that easy to find great content that’s 100% free. While you can use MBG all year long, for this contest you will want to publish your guest post anytime between now and February 15th; the contest itself officially ends on February 20th. Keep in mind that the earlier you put your post up, the more time you will have to promote it to your audience.
To participate in this contest, head over to MyBlogGuest to sign up for free. All you need is a PR2+ blog, Twitter & Facebook count buttons installed at the post level and a commenting system that doesn’t require registration.
The winner will be determined by a combination of Tweets, Facebook Likes, comments and how engaged you are with the post & the MBG community.
You can check out the 3 rules on the original announcement, but they’re nothing overly strict. Instead, they just boil down to don’t be a cheater!
Ann Smarty has done an awesome job with MyBlogGuest and this contest, so I’m pumped to see the posts you all enter!
Leave a comment with a link to the post you enter into the contest:
Part of our jobs as marketers of the new age is to understand and learn the popular platforms of the internet. You will be hard pressed to find a professional Search Engine Optimizer that isn’t familiar with Drupal, WordPress, Joomla, and simple table HTML websites. We preach about how to edit the background of your Twitter homepage for better branding and to include keywords on your Facebook fan page by renaming your images.
The new platform that I have been seeing more frequently is Magento. My responsibility as a freelancer is to understand the system, and utilize it to maximize its value. Here, you will find, not only where and how to optimize your Magento Client’s website, but how you can actually automate portions of it to save some time.
What is Magento?
For those unaware, Magento is the fastest growing e-commerce platform on the internet. Don’t be alarmed if you have yet to encounter it, because it is just new in comparison to WordPress or other CMS systems. Magento is Cross-Platform, written in PHP, that calls a series of SQL tables to fill the site. It is completely open-source, and much like WordPress there are a ton of extensions to customize any themes you desire.
Magento has a back end content management system, very similar to WordPress, but it is so much more robust. To truly optimize a Magento site, I recommend a working knowledge of PHP; if you want to be a Magento Pro, some SQL knowledge is necessary.
Based on SEOMoz’s Study: 2011 Search Engine Factors; the on-site factors that are estimated to most affect your SERP’s are Page-Level and Domain-Level Keyword Usage; adding up to a substantial 25.66%. Let’s get into how you can make that 25% work for you.
Let’s Get Started: Introducing the Back-End
Here is a look at the Magento Dashboard:
This is completely customizable, so these are the data points the client wanted to see. What important for me was the built-in analytics. Adding Paypal order tracking to Google Analytics is extremely difficult since Paypal transactions redirect you to the Paypal website where the final steps occur. Magento not only has a great system to allow for that sort of tracking, but with the right plugins, credit card data can be stored on Authorize.net’s servers. This allows your website to track the Customer ID’s, which you can see the last 5 orders on the left side. This data, in combination with GA, gives the SEO more data, which in my opinion makes better optimizing possible.
The “Reports” drop down menu gives you access to all of the data we’re seeing snippets of on the Dashboard. If you’re familiar with most tracking software, this one tab is worth spending the first couple of hours in, comparing to Google Analytics.
For Optimizing, we have to go to the Catalog menu:
The first place you need to go is “Manage Categories”. Unlike some CMS systems, categories are more-or-less required in Magento. This is where we can rewrite title tags, url’s, and the increasingly-useless Meta Description and Meta Keywords. I personally subscribe to the theory of completeness, so I fill all of these fields. Here is what you will see:
URL Key – This is to change the URL string, if you enter just a keyword, it will add it to the end of the URL in category order. (Ex. http://www.site.com/category1/URLKey) If you wish to rewrite the entire URL, just write the exact URL you want the category to have.
Thumbnail Image – I always name images keyword-friendly, and this is where you can upload and change the path of the thumbnail.
Description – Copy on the Page.
Page Title – Title Tag.
Meta Keywords – Meta Keywords.
Meta Description – Meta Description.
1) I do each category manually, since I optimize for each individual page’s best benefit, but if your website is smaller, or can use the same title tags throughout, please save yourself some time and use the “URL Rewrite Manager” tool, which can batch-rewrite categories to the same entry.
2) Save yourself some time and avoid the “Manage Products” category all together. The essential attributes that you will want to access are conveniently held in the “Category Products” tab in category management.
If you trust the SEOMoz data like I have come to; (I read every little case and footnote on that page, every year) the most important aspects of On-Site SEO can be accessed through that Catalog Menu, specifically the Manage Categories menu. For those SEO’s that want to dive into the nuts and bolts, Magento will blow you away.
Advanced Magento Optimization:
DISCLAIMER: SQL is needed in some form to really get the most out of these steps. At the very least, you’ll need to understand how to read it and how the tables are structured. Ideally, you are comfortable editing the actual tables in the database. For the rest of this tutorial, I will be providing real examples the client site.
Attributes are Magento’s way of describing a product, and how the system will handle it. For example, this is where the product page knows what information to display, and how to display it. You can organize attributes into sets, that will apply to a full category.
For SEO’s, this functionality is best used for inventory management. If you have gone through the Categories and optimized each product, then when that product is no longer in stock, you want to avoid sending customers to a useless page.
In the picture above, you see an attribute under General called “Status”. This is the attribute in this particular system that calls the Inventory table. Once you know exactly what table that attribute is calling, you can then set it to remove the product from the site when the inventory value = 0.
Instead of diving into the .htaccess file of the website to do all of your 301’s and 302’s, you can create redirects right in the back end. These rewrites are for the search function specifically, and you avoid having to do the redirects on the page level.
For example, my client sells wallpaper and wallpaper borders. For their Sports category, the number of wallpaper styles far outnumbers wallpaper borders. For SEO purposes, there are two separate pages; however, we found out through Analytics that most users are finding those borders in the “Related Borders” section on the bottom of the sports wallpaper page.
So, instead of trying to sculpt the traffic the way we wanted it, it was decided to just model it after the users. Go to Catalog -> Search Terms, and you see a page like this:
Here, you can see that we set a redirect when someone searches for the term “sports wallpaper borders.” It redirects to the redesigned sports wallpaper page that includes the limited selection of wallpaper borders; this can be done for any search term.
Unique Batch Category Title Tag Rewrites:
For those that know SQL, instead of going to each individual category and product to change the title tags, there is a command you can run to help automate it. In my case, there were 700 wallpaper categories, and these were mirrored in an equal amount of “wall mural” and “wallpaper border” categories. Instead of rewriting 2100 title tags manually, I did the wallpaper category manually, and then used this function to apply it to the corresponding Mural and Border category:
Here, you see that the Wallpaper category was used as a template, and then scanned the attributes of the other categories. Since there were Floral Wallpapers, along with Floral Wall Murals and Floral Wallpaper Borders, there would be a common attribute between them.
When that common attribute was found, it would take the title tags from the Page Title field of Wallpaper and fill that field for murals and borders. (Category ID 1149 and 1151 respectively.) This can be done any number of times as long as there is a common established attribute between the products or categories you wish to edit.
That, Ladies and Gentlemen, is my tutorial to Magento SEO. Depending on your coding skill, Magento can be an relatively effortless optimization project, or it can be a tedious reminder of how SEO can be. Either way Magento is a CMS system that is here to stay, given the amount of sites converting to Magento and the popularity of the Extension Marketplace; http://www.magentocommerce.com/magento-connect/.
So go do what we SEO’s are best at; adaptation, and get yourself some Magento Clients!
As we enter the last week of the month I sit here and look back at what I’ve learned this year in the world of internet marketing. From the Panda update to Twitter rolling out changes to their platform, our industry has seen quite a few changes this year. Many things stand out in my mind but at the core are eleven that I thought I’d share.
Lesson #1 – I never realized I could hate link farms more than I already did.
Ever since I first started working in this industry I was taught that link farms are bad news. Anyone who would link out to another site without any qualms or cares for whom they are linking to isn’t a site that we want our clients affiliated with. This year the point was hammered home even more after Panda. After you’ve been on an hour long conference call with a client whose previous SEO only built content farm links you’ll understand why I hate link farms.
Who you link to is certainly important and who links to you even more so. Avoid link farms like the plague and conduct a bit of link reclamation for any links in your backlink profile that shouldn’t be there.
Lesson #2 – How much I really love (good) content.
I’ve dealt with a few clients this year that suffered from Panda and others that didn’t. The difference? Great backlinks and great onsite content. Last year our focus at Vertical Measures switched from mostly link building to an equal distribution of link building and content marketing. Being ahead of the curve and focusing on content has helped not only our own rankings avoid hits from Panda but also ranking hits for clients. I can’t stress enough how important good content is.
Lesson #3 – The industry certainly has its ups and downs…but it’s all about the long haul.
If you want to succeed online you really have to be in it for the long haul. Half-assed attempts at improving your website conversion rates, developing social media presence, building links, writing on a blog, or promoting your website online aren’t going to cut it. Year after year this proves to be true and for me 2011 cemented in my mind that I was meant to work in the field. I just plain love it!
Lesson #4 – Don’t put all your eggs in Google’s basket.
The inbound traffic you receive should not all be from one place. Sure, this seems obvious but for many the sole focus is Google as an inbound traffic source. This year I learned that referral traffic from Bing and Yahoo is important. When conducting keyword research or looking to improve website SEO don’t forget about Bing/Yahoo.
Even traffic from a site like Yahoo Answers can make a huge difference to your bottom line. Forums, social sites, guest blog posts and comments are all great ways to diversify your efforts so you aren’t 100% dependent on Google. After some websites took huge hits due to Panda they had to close their doors or inject massive sums of money to other efforts. One solution is to expand your efforts and diversify your inbound traffic sources so you aren’t so reliant on one exclusively.
Lesson #5 – The more data the better.
Any opportunity you have to collect data do it. You’ll have the opportunity to segment that data and analyze when using a web analytics program like Google Analytics. Set up filters using regular expressions, use event tracking, examine social analytics such as Facebook Insights, anything that has data. Facebook rolled out their advanced insights; Twitter rumored at doing something similar soon. Then there’s Google – taking data away with keywords showing ‘not provided’ when visitors to your site are signed into their Google profiles and/or using encrypted search. You don’t miss it until it’s gone so take advantage of data as much as possible – a good lesson for 2011.
Lesson #6 – Long tail keywords can turn a bad year into a good one.
Focusing on single keywords or short tail phrases is certainly more competitive in some industries. Long tail phrases can prove to bring in just as much traffic cumulatively and in some instances convert at higher percentages.
Lesson #7 – Domain Authority > Page Rank
I’ve never given Page Rank much credence – it can be fairly simple to artificially inflate Page Rank. But more so this year than ever I’ve found that domain authority is the best metric to utilize when trying to establish a sites authority ‘score’ (as measured by SEOMoz).
Lesson #8 – Social links matter more than we know.
Bing admitted it, Google eluded to it – social links may influence search engine rankings. This year we’ve seen that social links matter and in my opinion I think they matter more than we know. This makes participating on social platforms and having something to share all the more important for brands in 2012.
Lesson #9 – Weak content = Weak rankings
Post-Panda website content must provide value which means: links, social mentions, comments, and traffic. If most of the content on your site provides no use, receives very little traffic, has very few links and has never been mentioned on social sites then you need a revamp. Weak content can directly correlate to weak rankings.
Lesson #10 – Exact match anchor text is the kiss of death.
Seen a dramatic decrease in rankings for a keyword? Look at the distribution of anchor text to the site. This is one of the most common reasons for ranking decreases I’ve seen in 2011. Natural anchor text is the way to go – vary it up with these 12 ways to vary your anchor text (a post I wrote last year).
Lesson #11 – Editorial links can change lives – or maybe just bottom lines.
Link building can be harder to do year after year. This year guest blogging and editorial link building was brought to the forefront. Links in the content of an article, blog, or content piece on a site that doesn’t just link out to anyone and everyone can be the best links out there. Also they’re sometimes the only way to get a link on certain sites (think a guest blog post on your competitors website…).
What are the internet marketing lessons you learned this year?
If you have been in the link building business over the past years, you must have noticed that things don’t work the same way any longer.
Generating tons of search engine traffic by slapping a few reciprocal links on your page simply does not work.
Before you embark on your SEO link building quest, it’s useful to understand what strategies DID matter a while ago, but are merely obsolete today – learn from the history, you know.
#1: PRECISE ANCHOR TEXTS
Previously, SEOs used to optimize their sites by using the same anchor text for all their links.
Well, this strategy is not that hot these days; as a matter of fact, you can be penalized by Google for doing it and not even know it.
Natural anchor texts are the key today.
But what is natural you might ask?
Basically, a natural link looks like it was built by a user, not an SEO. Normal users would not use a precise anchor text in their links, and neither should you – ALL the time, anyway.
In practical terms, when working on your link building, don’t just use your high value keywords in your links, but throw in a few “natural speech” words in there as well, like “cool site”, “click here”, etc.
#2: GOOGLE PAGERANK
I can’t believe there are still so many discussions about the validity of PageRank in the SEO world these days. I suppose if so much is written about it, somebody wants to read it, right?
As far as link building is concerned, PageRank is not the best indicator of the page strength.
The famous green bar has been a JOKE ever since Matt Cutts of Google confirmed that Google “takes care of people querying the PR data too much or too heavily.” (The source is a bit old, but if anything changed since then, it would be the fact that Google tried to downplay PageRank even more.)
Sounds like Google returns random page rank data if they feel like it – just because it’s fun to fool SEOs.
But why did I list PageRank as one of the factors I look for in a perfect link?
Simply because we don’t have too many alternatives to measure page authority aside from PR and maybe SEOMoz Page Authority metric, which I use quite a bit as well.
Either one of those metrics can be used as an indicator of the page strength, but not the primary factor by any means.
#3: ALEXA RANK
This metric is geared towards online marketers and does not truly measure ALL the traffic that might come to your site.
It’s based on the sample of Alexa toolbar users, is browser-specific and can be easily manipulated (from what I’ve heard anyway).
Plus, the formula Alexa uses to determine its page rank is overwhelmingly debated.
Once again, it’s a good indicator of the site authority, but should be used along with other factors to determine if any given site is truly a good link building candidate.
#4: GOOGLE BACKLINK DATA
Referring to the link:somedomain.com Google query.
Don’t ever trust Google to really tell you how many links a specific website has. Plus, when you do a Google search on your links, random samples are returned, so you might see the spammiest of all the links you have.
Yahoo! Site Explorer used to be a great backlink research tool, but alas, it’s out of commission.
I’ve done a lot of research on the alternatives, and so far my two best suggestions for link research are:
1. Market Samurai: if you already own Market Samurai, look no further.
I love their SEO competition section. It used to be powered by Yahoo! Site Explorer, but was recently changed to Majestic SEO – another great backlink checker that otherwise requires a monthly subscription to use.
Here’s a video on how to use the SEO Competition module of Market Samurai:
2. SEOSpyGlass: this software goes a few steps further than Market Samurai as far as backlink analysis is concerned.
My favorite part is the fact that it measures the VALUE of a link, plus the fact that their free version is free for life.
#5: GOOGLE CACHE DATE
This metric has also been used and abused by SEOs to the point that it can’t be relied upon. Juicy pages that rank are often returned as having no cache set.
So forget about the cache date as well.
Simple: if you are heavily relying upon any one of the above metrics to determine whether any given site/page is a good one to get a link from, stop it.
Effective link building is all about diversity.