Tag Archives: search engine optimization

Google Penguin 2.1: Who Got Hit?

Penguin-fighter
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Everybody’s favorite (or least favorite) aquatic bird is back, and now site owners are once again asking how Google Penguin 2.1 has affected their website.

 

As he did for Penguin 1.0 and  Penguin 2.0, Glenn Gabe at G-Squared Interactive hasanalyzed 26 websites impacted by the algorithmic change to determine what factors contributed to sites that got hit.

 

Gabe, who has now analyzed more than 275 sites hit by Penguin, told Search Engine Watch that he believes Google Penguin 2.1 had a much greater impact than its predecesor.

 

Why Sites Were Hit by Google Penguin 2.1

 

Not surprisingly, Penguin 2.1 appears to have identified newer link spam  those links that were created at a later date than the Penguin 2.0 rollout in May, Gabe said.

 

Of that link spam, Gabe said the following represent the culprits:

 

  • Forum spamThis includes comments in forums with exact match anchor text links.
  • Forum bio spam: Biographies of forum users containing exact match anchor text links.
  • “Do follow” blogs:  Blogs that don’t add nofollow to the links posted. “Let’s face it,” Gabe said.
  • “Being listed on do-follow resource sites can absolutely send Google a signal that you are trying
  • to game links.”
  • Blogroll spam: Watch for blogroll links gone wrong. “Some may be fine,” Gabe said. “If you are unsure which ones are bad versus good, ask for help from a seasoned SEO.”
  • Spammy directories: If you’ve used spammy directories in the past, and still have links out there, Gabe said “nuke them, have them nofollowed, or disavow them.”
  • Blog comment signature spam: Google seems to be targeting these links even when they’re not followed, Gabe said.

Gabe also spotted a new culprit: classified websites showing up with heavy unnatural links leading to destination websites. He also said that, unfortunately, he has seen proof of negative SEO rearing its ugly head during Penguin 2.1.

 

“Ive had several companies reach out to me that are claiming negative SEO,” Gabe said. “And after looking at the situation, I have to agree with them. And worse, I saw an entire business category (in a geo area) get hit with spammy links. That seemed very suspicious. All the business owners (who are competitors) were all blindsided.”

 

Tips and Recovery Recommendations

 

It’s business as usual on how to deal with cleaning up your site for the next visit from Penguin, Gabe said. That means downloading and analyzing the links, creating a plan of attack to remove and disavow as needed, and if you have to, remove pages (unless they’re important).

 

Here are Gabe’s top five recommendations on what to do if you’ve been hit by Penguin 2.1:

 

  • Understand that Penguin heavily targets unnatural links. Your new content and social activity won’t trigger a recovery.
  • Thoroughly analyze your link profile, while keeping a keen eye on exact match and rich anchor text. That’s what Penguin targets.
  • Remove those links if you can, and disavow the remaining links. And use the domain operator in the disavow file when the domain is low-quality. Don’t try and target specific URLs on a spammy domain, when you can nuke the entire domain.
  • Make sure more unnatural links arent being added as time goes on. Gabe said he’s had a number of business owners think they cleaned up their situation, only to get hit harder during Penguin 2.1. After checking their link profiles, you can clearly see more spammy links were added during the spring, summer, and fall. This is what got them hit by Penguin 2.1.
  • Move fast and be aggressive. Gabe said he has seen Penguin recoveries during Panda updates, so there is a possibility of recovery prior to the next official Penguin update.

Keywords, and #Hashtags, and Hummingbird! Oh My!

A long-standing aphorism in the search community dictates that chaos brings opportunity. Well, Google has brought us the chaos.

 

The last couple of weeks have been full of the kind of Google news that fundamentally alters the way SEO professionals and site owners do business. Reeling from a triple shot of change, the search community has been eating anti-anxiety meds, writing emails to clients explaining what will happen next, and generally running around in circles.

 

From a social media and content marketer point of view, Google’s recent changes ring with the thrill of opportunity.

 

Businesses tend to parcel out their digital marketing tasks to multiple third-party service providers. One company does SEO. Another does PPC and a third does social marketing.

 

Now Google has given our industry a reason to force consolidation. Businesses that continue to see digital marketing as a series of silos will miss out on a myriad of opportunities to cross-pollinate their marketing with all of the their other online efforts.

 

Here’s what Google has changed and what those changes mean from a social marketer’s point of view.

 

Keyword Reporting

 

Not Sure If...

 

As Thom Craver pointed out in his article, “Goodbye, Keyword Data,” all searches now happen on encrypted servers, eliminating keyword data previously provided to site owners. Google said it’s a user privacy issue:

 

“We added SSL encryption for our signed-in search users in 2011, as well as searches from the Chrome omnibox earlier this year,” a Google spokesperson told Search Engine Watch. “We’re now working to bring this extra protection to more users who are not signed in.”

 

For businesses that live and die by their keyword rankings this sounds like catastrophic news. In fact, their visibility for certain terms in search is only a starting place. Granted it’s an enormously strong starting place.

 

Keywords told us “what,” but weren’t indicators of how likely a site visitor would find exactly what they were looking for on a particular website or how likely they were to stick around and convert into a paying customer.

 

The removal of keywords forces website marketers to move the needle forward. Google is very good at figuring out what your site is about and no longer wants to be told.

 

This is where content and social media come into play. Well-written pages that serve value to the human beings navigating a website are critical to conversions and true ROI.

 

Establishing relationships via social media with visitors that are still in the decision-making process help to foster an emotional affinity for the brand and separate the researchers from real customers. In other words, search and social shouldn’t be separate. They need to be working together as a marketing team.

 

Hashtag Search

 

hashtag-abuse

 

Just as easily as Google taketh away the keywords, Google giveth hashtagging. Hashtags, particularly those used in Google+, are now providing value added results in Google search.

 

Along with standard search results for their query, the user will also get a live scrolling feed of public Google+ posts bearing the hashtag searched for and links to those hashtag feeds on Twitter and Facebook. The Google+ feed isn’t showing up for every hashtag searched, it seems to depend on if the tag is trending at the time of the search.

 

Hastags present branding and topical authority opportunities. When used judiciously, well-placed hashtags in blog titles, Google+ posts, Facebook and Twitter updates, and in image descriptions across Pinterest, Instagram, and Vine can add a layer of cohesiveness to a brand’s online campaigns.

 

One of my clients is interested in developing an ongoing series of Hangouts on Air for their customers. We had already discussed the use of a branded hashtag to help promote discussion on other platforms like Twitter and Facebook. Now that we know there is an added benefit in search, we will be even more tactical about how we post and share promotions of their Hangouts.

 

Combined with the authorship markup, hashtags used appropriately in blogs should help writers aggregate their articles around specific topics and increase the perception of authority on those topics.

 

Hummingbird Update

 

Google Hummingbird

 

Danny Goodwin points out that the technological update of Google search is designed to handle more complex queries, in his article, “Google Hummingbird Takes Flight.”

 

As the search engine has matured over the last 15 years, its understanding of language has become more sophisticated. Like any other teenager, it can combine vocabulary with grammar to understand the meaning of questions rather than just matching words on page to words in a query. Google has grown up to understand how we communicate and share information with one another.

 

This is what is most exciting about Internet marketing. The content of a website no longer needs to be artificially loaded with terms meant to attract web crawlers.

 

The more we produce material that real human readers will enjoy, the more search will understand the communication connection. The digital space continues to become a more accurate reflection the real world.

 

Summary

 

Embrace the change, shift your paradigm, tear down a few cubical walls, and free your content writers, webmasters, SEO professionals, and community managers to work as a cohesive team. It’s a brave new world we live in.

 

Thank you for visiting.
Andrew Radics

 

Image Credit: Dimka/Flickr

 

Article Source: http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2299177/Keywords-and-Hashtags-and-Hummingbird-Oh-My

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Removing Unnatural Links by Removing Pages on Your Website

removing unnatural linksTrying to clean up your backlink profile? Did you know that you can quickly remove links by removing the page of your site to which that link points?

 

Obviously this tactic can’t be used for links pointing to your home page. But, if you have inner pages that have built up large numbers of unnatural links and are causing your site to be affected negatively by a Google penalty or algorithm issue, then this could be a good tactic to use.

 

Be sure you do it correctly though! Later on in this article I’ll share about how a client of mine got their site re-penalized by making an error in 404ing their pages.

 

Removing a Page With Unnatural Links Pointing to it

 

During a Webmaster Central Hangout, Google employee John Mueller was asked:

 

Does removing a page that has unnatural links pointing to it accomplish the same thing when it comes to removing a link when it comes to the Penguin algorithm? If a site has all of its links pointing to one page and removes the page is the issue solved?

 

“Yes, essentially that’s pretty much the same thing,” Mueller said. “So, what happens when a page is removed and the page returns a 404, what happens is that we drop those links so that they don’t count. Generally speaking, if you can’t remove those links and you don’t want to use the disavow backlinks tool then you could remove those pages.”

 

And here’s how Mueller answered a question in the Google Webmaster Forum on the same topic:

 

In general, if you remove the page that is being linked to (such as a spammy forum thread) and make sure that it returns a 404/410 HTTP response code, we’ll ignore the links to those pages.

 

Don’t Make These Mistakes!

 

Please know, though, that the page must be truly removed in order for the links pointing to it to no longer count. The following won’t work to remove links:

 

  • Noindexing and/or nofollowing the page. A noindexed, nofollowed page will still receive PageRank from links pointing to it. Marking a page on your site noindexed and/or nofollowed doesn’t accomplish the same thing as physically removing a link.
  • Blocking by robots.txt: A page that is blocked by robots.txt will still receive PageRank as well. The robots.txt directive will simply tell Google not to crawl that page. But, if links point to it then they will still count towards your site.
  • Redirecting the pages to another page on your site. A redirect will pass somewhere from 95 to 100 percent of the PageRank from bad link on to the redirected page and won’t remove the link.
  • Removing the link but creating an identical page on your site with a different URL. I’ve seen situations where Google can recognize identical content and automatically canonicalize it. What this means is that links pointing to the original page will be attributed to the new page.

A Grievous Error

 

One of my clients made a big mistake. Several months ago we worked hard to remove an unnatural links penalty that this client received.

 

A previous SEO company had built unnatural links to their site by creating a large number of articles on the site and then paying other sites to link to these articles. We removed those unnatural links by removing all of the articles that had been made on the site. If someone clicked on one of those unnatural links, they would be directed to a 404 page.

 

The site also had some other obviously unnatural links, such as low-quality directories which we dealt with as well. We were very pleased when Google removed the unnatural links penalty from the site.

 

However, I was very surprised to find out about two months later that the site was penalized. Again.

 

It didn’t take long to determine what had happened. The site owners had decided to redirect all of those 404 pages to the home page.

 

Whether it was done in error, or done to try to sneakily regain some link juice, I don’t know. Somehow their site underwent another manual review and the penalty was levied again.

 

Did you know that when a site gets penalized a second time by Google that the penalty is often more harsh and also harder to remove? This is because it takes more work to convince the webspam team that you really are committed to the quality guidelines.

 

For this site, we quickly removed the redirects so that the bad links once again pointed to 404 pages and filed again for reconsideration. But, this time Google didn’t remove the penalty.

 

Google gave examples of unnatural links that were very hard to find as they were not in the list of Webmaster Tools backlinks. Now that this site has lost Google’s trust they are going to have to do a lot more work to get the penalty removed.

 

Should You 404 Pages or Just Disavow the Unnatural Links?

 

In the same Hangout linked to above, Mueller said that using the disavow tool to ask Google to not count these bad links would work just as well as 404ing the page(s) on your sites to remove links.

 

However, as there is controversy over the use of the disavow tool, (see Cyrus Shepard’s disavow experiment and my theory on what happened), I would suggest that if all of a page’s links are bad ones, to just remove the page rather than disavow. Removing the page will remove all of the bad links.

 

Thank you for visiting.
Andrew Radics

 

Article Source: http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2296653/Removing-Unnatural-Links-by-Removing-Pages-on-Your-Website

 

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SEO Packages Buyer Beware

All too often, I have new clients share the “strategy” their previous SEO company/consultant had suggested (or worse – implemented) and it’s some sort of a package deal. Often, these packages incorporate severely outdated tactics, many of which might have been at least marginally effective in the past, but are toxic today. But that’s not the worst part of those packages.

 

It’s sad to hear from the owner of a relatively small but successful site that was generating a few thousand dollars per month until recently, then suddenly, they’re considering a couple hundred dollars their norm. Even sadder is having to explain to them that it happened because they made a poor choice – one that was totally avoidable.

 

I’ve had many of the emails shared with me by which they were prospected. My own junk folder even picks up one now and then. Here’s one I recently received, that’s fairly typical:

 

Hello,

We are offering S.E.O. services for your website. which will help you to improve your Google, Yahoo, and Msn and other search engine rankings.

Monthly Task and responsibilities: –

 

  1. 150 Directory submissions
  2. 10 Social Bookmarking Submissions
  3. 10 Article Submissions (1 article x 10 article directories)
  4. 10 Press Release Submissions (1 press release x 10 press release websites)
  5. 10 Blog Submissions
  6. 1 unique, 400 word article written
  7. 1 unique, 400 word press releases
  8. 15 One Way back links with mix PR
  9. Meta tags changes suggestions
  10. Keyword research
  11. Competitor Analysis
  12. Heading tag changes
  13. Alt tag changes
  14. Interlinking wherever required.
  15. Keyword density in site content.
  16. HTML Site Map
  17. XML site map and Submission in webmaster tool

Our Best rates for this are: – USD 150 per month per project at beginning of every month.

Please let us know in case you are interested.

Thanks & Regards,
[Name charitably withheld]
Business Development manager

 

Now, sometime during the last decade, parts of that package would have been effective for most sites. Parts of it are even still effective for most sites. But I think most of us know which of those are outdated, hence, toxic to nearly any site. (I say nearly any site, because there are a few niches which seem to be 100 percent filled with sites practicing such techniques, so it really has no bearing on the SERP placement of any site.)

 

So let me address these “SEO services” in a very general fashion:

 

Honestly, the first eight items are, for the most part, crap! For a website, they have the potential of being absolutely disastrous.

 

Would you assume this person has the ability and the motivation to single out site directories, article directories, blogs, PR sites, and social bookmarking sites that are both safe and effective? For any site? In any niche? (At $150/month, I doubt many would realistically expect a lot of specialized effort on your part.)

 

At $150, should you also expect that the keyword research and competitor analysis will be performed to a granular level? And that the quality of the press release and article will be of decent quality? Ideally, in comprehensible English?

 

This spam email demonstrates that he hasn’t got a clue which old techniques are now high-risk, low-yield. I tend to judge a book by its cover in such situations. Anyone who markets themselves in such a sloppy and outdated fashion, is not on my short-list of marketing hires.

 

Why Cookie-Cutter Packages Don’t Work

 

The real point: a cookie-cutter recipe isn’t going to work for just any site.

 

In fact, an argument could be made that no such package is likely to work ideally for more than one or possibly two sites, and even then, only if they’re identical in terms of niche, market, quality and a handful of other factors. Oh, and a huge amount of blind luck.

 

Any reputable SEO, in my opinion, will first look at a site to get at least a snapshot of what areas need attention or can be better developed, before proposing a strategy. If they’re willing to quote a price, sight-unseen, I would say that one of three possibilities exist:

 

  • They haven’t got a clue what they’re doing (which sadly, is often the case).
  • They’ve priced themselves sufficiently high to allow for virtually any contingency.
  • They’re too stupid to be allowed to play with either a keyboard or sharp instruments.

Ideally, if a client’s site seems to need extensive on-page work, I’ll be able to talk them into a medium-level audit. That allows me to quantify the hours I expect to have to dedicate to each task. But even without that audit, I’ll still do enough checking on my own, to be able to put forward a decent guestimate of what’s required, before I begin a statement of work and pricing.

 

I can’t imagine quoting the same fixed dollar amount for the addition of alt attributes to both an eight-page mommy-blog and to Amazon. But selling SEO packages is essentially doing just that. Different market demographics, niches, product type, marketing style, business model and a host of other criteria demand an individualized strategy for every site.

 

Caveat Emptor

Caveat Emptor

 

Unfortunately, many site owners look for help with their websites without knowing enough about the sort of help they need to enable them to make informed decisions. They either fall for a scam and take a beating, hopefully learning something valuable in the process, or they do their own due diligence in an effort to avoid a beating.

 

When they fall for bad SEO packages, the least that’ll happen is that they’ll waste their money. Often, they’ll also suffer long-lasting losses, as they spend months trying to recover from a penalty – the only tangible result of their SEO investment. Another result, nearly as tangible, is the bad taste left in their mouth by what they consider to be SEO.

 

That, as we all know, reflects poorly on all SEO professionals, not just the asshats. It makes it more difficult for the rest of us to close a deal, gain the trust of our clients and deliver the results we know are possible.

 

As far as I’m concerned, silence is as bad as condoning. I don’t condone idiots taking advantage of clients, so I have no intention of being silent on the topic.

 

I also don’t hold site owners innocent of failing to inform themselves. This is the Internet Age, people! Virtually anything you want to know can be found with a few keystrokes.

 

If you’re not willing to invest the time and thought necessary, you deserve a lot of the blame. You could find some good resources with a quick Google search for “SEO best practices organizations”.

 

Conclusion

 

I doubt that most people would buy a used car without checking it out first. Or a house, a surgeon’s services or a babysitter. Doesn’t your livelihood deserve at least as much consideration?

 

You don’t have to become a car mechanic to inform yourself about known service problems, poor performance, or lousy gas mileage. You just need to make the effort to investigate whether what your being offered is typically considered acceptable.

 

The same is true of selecting a reputable SEO. Do your homework and protect your investment.

 

Thank you for visiting.
Andrew Radics

 

Original Article

 

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Matt Cutts: Google +1s Don’t Lead to Higher Ranking

Matt Cutts - SMX Advanced 2012 Photos

Matt Cutts – SMX Advanced 2012 Photos (Photo credit: planetc1)

It isn’t often that Google’s Distinguished Engineer Matt Cutts comes right out to debunk a highly publicized blog post regarding something to do with ranking in Google.

 

Everybody has their own opinions of what works and what doesn’t work, and SEO in itself can be highly subjective, primarily because Google doesn’t really come out and specifically admit the things that work, because they don’t want people gaming the system.

 

Moz published a blog post “Amazing Correlation Between Google +1s and Higher Search Rankings” claiming that Google +1s had a direct correlation with higher search rankings in Google – and that it was higher than any other ranking factor. The post was written by Cyrus Shepard, the “Senior Content Astronaut” at Moz, and the data was taken from their 2013 ranking factors.

 

It’s a pretty sensational title, and immediately sparked a lot of discussion. His post brought up a lot of points about why he feels this correlation is correct, such as posts shared on Google+ are crawled and indexed almost immediately, and that posts on the site pass “link equity”. He also noted that authorship shares in the rankings as well. However, he’s also stating it as fact, instead of just a possibility without any specific hard data with proof, such as specific sites where an increase in rankings can be solely attributed to Google +1’s.

 

In addition to grabbing the attention of many in the SEO industry (many of whom trashed the post as being highly flawed), Cutts immediately stepped into debunk the claim of the correlation between rankings and +1s. Specifically, Cutts wrote:

 

Just trying to decide the politest way to debunk the idea that more Google +1s lead to higher Google web rankings. Let’s start with correlation != causation: http://xkcd.com/552/

But it would probably be better to point to this 2011 post (also from SEOMoz/Moz) from two years ago in which a similar claim was made about Facebook shares: http://moz.com/blog/does-google-use-facebook-shares-to-influ… . From that blog post from two years ago: “One of the most interesting findings from our 2011 Ranking Factors analysis was the high correlation between Facebook shares and Google US search position.”

 

This all came to a head at the SMX Advanced search conference in 2011 where Rand Fishkin presented his claims. I did a polite debunk of the idea that Google used Facebook shares in our web ranking at the conference, leading to this section in the 2011 blog post: “Rand pointed out that Google does have some access to Facebook data overall and set up a small-scale test to determine if Google would index content that was solely shared on Facebook. To date, that page has not been indexed, despite having quite a few shares (64 according to the OpenGraph).”

 

If you make compelling content, people will link to it, like it, share it on Facebook, +1 it, etc. But that doesn’t mean that Google is using those signals in our ranking.

 

Rather than chasing +1s of content, your time is much better spent making great content.

 

So his belief falls in line with what a lot of SEO professionals are doing for long-term SEO success, where creating great quality content that is more likely to be shared is the best kind of strategy when it comes to content.

 

He does continue to reiterate that +1s and rankings are not related. “Most of the initial discussion on this thread seemed to take from the blog post the idea that more Google +1s led to higher web ranking. I wanted to preemptively tackle that perception.”

 

Cutts also mentioned that another SEO has been doing a rigorous study on whether it +1s lead to higher rankings are not, which he suspects will be released the next month or two. If it is providing specific examples in the study, it will be good to be the most conclusive evidence SEOs will have about whether it is or isn’t a ranking factor with concrete data to back it up.

 

Cutts made similar statements last year at SES San Francisco, when he said that Google doesn’t put a lot of weight on +1’s yet and advised people not to assume Google+ equates to rankings.

 

Below are a few reactions from Twitter. What’s your take?

 

moz-tweet-dave-naylor

moz-tweet-ben-cook

moz-tweet-chad-lio

moz-tweet-paul-gailey

 

Thank you for visiting.
Andrew Radics

 

Original Article Source

 

 

 

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There are Times When You Need Expert SEO Consulting

There are Times When You Need Expert SEO ConsultingIf you have a website, it should deliver new customers. You want your website to be your best salesperson. To get that, you need effective search engine optimization (SEO). I realized awhile ago that there are many businesses that have an in-house SEO team that might not be experts in the field of optimizing a website. For those businesses, it may be more cost effective to have a staff member taking care of their business website.

 

I introduced a new service recently and that is SEO consulting. Up until just recently, my team and I have specialized in search engine optimization work on behalf of our clients. That meant that we did all of the work in exchange for a monthly fee. But because more and more businesses are using existing staff members to optimize their websites for search engines, I saw a gap in the market. Because of their limited knowledge in the SEO field, they sometimes need a bit of help. What most of these business owners do not understand is that search engine optimization is a specialized field. Do the wrong thing by Google and your site will be penalized in some shape of form. By offering an SEO consulting service to business owners, that type of scenario is hopefully avoided.

 

The first thing I would do is to understand the clients business and marketing goals and then develop a strategy for a winning SEO campaign. Often times if a staff member is performing the website optimization, they don’t understand how important a proper SEO strategy really is to drive traffic to their website.

 

Because we have been operating since February 2006, we understand things like: business objectives, demographics of target audience, creative considerations, media mix, methods of measurement and success metrics. Above all else however, we have the ability to drive targeted traffic to your website and have developed strategies to convert that traffic into paying customers. Like I said in the beginning, your website should be your number one sales person but it won’t be if the wrong strategies are used.

 

Leaving such an important task to someone who is not familiar with the latest SEO trends and developments could possibly turn in to a very costly mistake. If you are a business owner and have an employee performing search engine optimization on your business site, don’t take that chance. An SEO consultation from The Expert SEO Company could just make your website into the sales champion that it was designed to be. So the question really now is, if you are serious about growing your business through new customer acquisition on-line, can you afford NOT to hire an SEO consultant?

 

Thank you for visiting.
Andrew Radics

 

 

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Update on our Ramadebolow Test

It seems that from our little experiment, when you use social bookmarking for your posts, Google indexes them much faster.  The post on the fictitious  Ramadebolow fruit was indexed by Google in about 2 hours (see below). We had to do a time conversion. When we posted that article, it was June 27th and the time was 12.57 pm. That worked out to being 2.27am GMT and this post was indexed at 4.27 GMT. So all in all it took about 2 hours or so.

 

Update on our Ramadebolow Test

Click on the Image to Enlarge

Interesting side note was that we used our Blogger account as one of the social bookmarks and that was indexed pretty much within the hour. It goes to show how powerful that platform is if you want to get your content out there quickly.

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Best Practices & Steps to Success, Local Search Key Vendors

With the rise of smartphones and mapping apps we’re living in the era of local search and discovery.

 

Before we dive into the thicket of what it takes to win in the space and who the players are, let’s take a step back and review the basics of local SEO.

 

Google‘s Knowledge Graph – showing information directly on the search results page -and the presence of the ‘Carousel’ results are just two of the game changers making local SEO a moving target.

 

The carousel will make images and reviews a key driver of clicks. It may also imply that ranking number one in local results is less important as results are listed horizontally.

 

pizza-savannah-google

 

Before we dive into the thicket of what it takes to win in the space and who the players are, we will review the basics of local SEO.

 

The Key Drivers for Local Search

 

 

In general, SEOs agree the key factors driving local search results boil down to:

 

  • Keyword-targeted, indexable landing pages (where the keyphrase is the location and the service)
  • Consistent, accurate business listing data across multiple listing data providers
  • Consistent, accurate name, address and phone number on the site landing page, business listings, and search engine local page
  • Good reviews, content, and engagement on search engine local pages (Google+)
  • Inbound links and citations / mentions for the target web page and the domain
  • User searches for the business name in the geographical area
  • Google Map Maker engagement (for Google, obviously)
  • A good mobile experience (50 percent of mobile searches have local intent)

Given a basic understanding of the tactics and the user experience for local search, we can now review the various options for local search optimization.

 

Local SEO for the Truly Clueless

 

Say you are a lawyer, a plumber, or an exterminator and you don’t have time to worry about this stuff. Setting aside the fact that you likely aren’t reading this article, let’s look at the 100 percent outsourced options.

 

These vendors will set you up with a website, a local ad or marketing campaign, and some kind of local off-site page presence for a monthly fee, all you need to do is give them a call and a credit card number.

 

  • ReachLocal: Pretty much the first players in this space and the industry leader. They tend to target the larger end of the small business market (more than a few employees and more than a few hundreds of dollars a month to spend). ReachLocal will set you up with a web presence and an online marketing (search, social, display, mobile) campaign that fits your budget.
  • Yodle: Lesser known, but providing pretty much the same service as ReachLocal, Yodle targets the small end of the small business segment. They will set you up with a basic template-driven, search optimized website on a domain they own and control. They will also set up a paid search campaign assuming you have the budget, and will track and forward any calls they generate.

 

One thing to consider with these outsourced solutions is once you stop paying them, you may lose your website, the leads stop coming, and any SEO equity you may have established goes bye-bye.

 

If you really don’t think you can figure out how to create a website and do basic SEO, the outsourced approach is the solution for you. Just be aware of the downsides and the fact that you are paying them for the service. Otherwise, buck it up and make your own website and follow the instructions below to optimize it for local search.

 

The Do-It-Yourself Approach to Local SEO

 

So you are going to do it yourself. As we have seen above, you need good on-page SEO to rock in local search and a good mobile site or responsive design since a ton of your local searches will be on mobile devices.

 

Step 1: Basic SEO

 

You need to get your on-page SEO in order – create a nice, responsive site with a local keyword-targeted home page (e.g., “Childrens Resale Store, Brooklyn, NY”). Then go about the usual SEO tasks of getting good inbound links, citations, and mentions in the media.

 

With basic SEO out of the way, you now need to think about straightening out your business listings and optimizing your off-site local pages like Google+, Yahoo, Bing, Yelp, and many others.

 

Step 2: Business Listings

 

For a small business, you can manually create and update your business listings at several places. For example, you can get a Dun & Bradstreet number, and update or create a listing with your name, address, and phone number at InfoUSA. These guys gradually feed many other local services like the Yellow Pages vendors with data.

 

Step 3: Off-site Local Pages

 

Now it’s time to get your off-site act together. With a few more basic steps like claiming your Google+, Bing, Yahoo, and Yelp pages and enriching your location on Google Map Maker you are on well on your local search way.

 

Go get some great reviews, upload photos, and make sure you’re your name, address and phone number (NAP) data is visible on your home or store page and exactly matches your listing data. Add semantic markup code to your NAP data to be 100% sure the engines get the message.

 

Large Enterprise Local SEO

 

The same basic rules apply for larger businesses with a big local footprint, but things get considerably more complex and time consuming. Welcome to the world of enterprise local search vendors. And, if you’re really busy, you may need a local search agency or specialist.

 

Enterprise Listings Management

 

Let’s take a look at some of the main local search vendors. If you work with an agency, they will most likely be using some combination of these in their service.

 

  • Universal Business Listings: UBL directly feeds business databases like Acxiom, Dun & Bradstreet, and InfoGroup (last time we checked). These are primary datafeed providers to multiple publishers. UBL also has a bulk claiming service for sites like Google+, allowing you to make a one-time claim and update of your data. UBL is not the company to work with to streamline management and updating of social / local sites, but they can get your basic business listings created or cleaned up so they can work their way through the local data ecosystem.

 

  • Localeze: Recently acquired by Neustar, Localeze is similar to UBL in that it provides business listings data directly to a variety of publishers and primary data sources. In some ways Localeze is complementary to UBL as it provides data to a different set of distribution partners including Yahoo, Bing, Yellowpages.com, Facebook, Twitter, and TomTom. Localeze has created an impressive roster of sites it feeds with data.

There are other options as well, but for the sake of brevity, let’s move on to:

 

Enterprise Local Pages Management

 

Keeping third-party local sites like Google+, Yahoo Business Listings, and Yelp current and enriched with offers, campaign content, and offers is a big job, especially for brands with hundreds of locations. Previously, it was pretty much a manual job. Nowadays, there are several players who have stepped up and created APIs and interfaces that allow you to manage off-site local pages centrally.

 

Once you get into the space of managing multiple off-site pages for multiple locations you are going to be spending serious coin. If you have the budget, here are some folks to take a look at:

 

  • Yext: While not exclusively aimed at large enterprise, the Yext team offers a range of services including the ability to centrally claim and enrich (with offers or other content) a large number of 3rd party sites. Yext charges a yearly fee for management with additional costs that vary with the amount of content you want to push to the managed sites. If you want to quickly push out a short-term offer to dozens of sites for hundreds of locations, and you have the budget, Yext may be for you. Recently, Yext and Yahoo announced Localworks – a service aimed at small businesses that gives them access to Yext and Yahoo listing and management services for $30 per month.

 

  • Rio Local: Pretty much focused on larger companies with multiple locations, Rio has the only complete hosted local search solution. They 1) Host the local landing page and 2) Claim any number of off-site local pages (G+, yelp, etc) and 3) Create and verify the business listings. If you are OK with having them host your local on-site pages, Rio may be the option for you as they have the most control and due to ‘owning’ the landing page they can give pretty complete end to end reporting.

 

I am sure I missed a ton of vendors, so feel free to let me know what I left out in the comments.

 

Conclusion: Local Search Offers Great ROI

 

For a small business, local search may something that can be done in an afternoon, followed up by a quick daily or weekly review of off-site pages.

 

For a large business – say 1,000 locations – the costs and difficulty rapidly escalate. While it might seem crazy to spend $500,000 in vendor fees and $50,000 in agency management time to locally optimize your franchises, I would argue that it offers a great return. For some industries (e.g., finance) the ROI could truly be stellar.

 

Local search results are also less competitive than core web results. While you might not ever be able to rank for ‘Life Insurance’ your might very well be able to rank for ‘Life Insurance broker’ queries in Albany and every other city your do business in. Big brands, small brands, take note.

 

So if you haven’t already it’s time to add local search optimization to your marketing plan. But there’s no need to hurry – my small local business in Brooklyn would rather not have the competition.

 

Image Credit: Joe Loong/Flickr

 

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Why SEO Can Take a Long Time

Why does SEO take so long?

 

It’s a question many frustrated business owners have asked again and again. It’s a completely valid question–yet one that rarely gets answered to anyone’s satisfaction.

 

Here then, is a nuts-and-bolts answer to the question of why search engine optimization takes so much time. As you’ll see, this frequently time-consuming process is all part of an assurance that your SEO dollars are well-spent.

 

Analyzing Your Competition Takes More Time than You May Think

 

Unless you’re selling a product or service that is less than a month or two old, you will have competitors who are already ranking well in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). Simply getting on equal ground with them is a task that can take time.

 

To tell the truth, even the best SEO analyst will need to take time to find out where and what that ground actually is. In most markets, your competitors have spent a decade or more building both their websites, and links to those websites. A thorough competitive analysis will take into account every link that leads to every competitor result that shows up on the first few pages of results that rank for your desired keywords. Link tools like Majestic SEO or Open Site Explorer can be helpful in developing an understanding of where the ground is.

 

open site explorer

 

Search marketing competitive analysis tools can also be used to help you assess the level of competition in your domain. These tools are offered by a handful of companies like iSpionage and Spyfu. A new entrant in the web hosting space for instance might use iSpionage’s comparison functionality to assess the level of competition for industry keywords.

 

When you see large numbers of first page keywords and SEO traffic value in the millions, then you know that competition is going to be fierce. In many markets with entrenched competitors that have been competing for some time, a strategy of optimizing longer-tail terms that will be able to compete within specific industry niches and sub- niches is often the best approach to take.

 

ispionage

 

iSpionage Web Hosting SEO Traffic Value Comparison

 

Build Links from Sites with Authority

 

Once you or your SEO provider develops these insights, the next step is to find common sites that your competitors use for backlinks. There are often anywhere from 5-100 different sites that all of your major competitors will use for rank-boosting backlinks.

 

You will need to create a database of every link pointing at the top 50 pages that rank for each one of your keywords. You need to know how many of those links come from the same sites, and from which pages on those sites, and how often. From this, you may be able to see how to grab some of those links for your own site.

 

Then you need to find links from pages that none of your competition is using. At the very least, you should look for links that a very small percentage of your competition is using. These days, it’s difficult to find quality sites for backlinks, that aren’t already being used extensively. But it is possible. It is also crucial to your success.

 

As you can imagine, all of this takes time. And it’s only the beginning.

 

Getting On “Ground Zero” With Your Competitors Takes Time

 

compassAfter that, you or your provider must procure links in one of several ways: content creation, paid link placement, paid content creation, guest posts, site creation, subdomain creation, link bartering, content trading, etc.

 

Regardless of whether these links are paid for, traded, or otherwise acquired, dealing with site owners can take time. Blogs and Web 2.0 pages built on your behalf need to be written by good writers who understand SEO–and who probably already have a lot on their plates.

 

Then, you or your SEO agency should ensure that every image has an appropriate file name, title, and alternate text, specific to (usually) a single keyword, on each page where it appears. And your content should have images, typically, on every single page.

 

Since a good search engine campaign involves all types of content, your provider will need to make videos on your behalf–and make sure that each video has the right file name, and the right title (for both the video and the page), the right description, and even the right account name.

 

As you can see, each of the literally thousands–and usually tens of thousands–of links that your site needs in order to rank well, needs to be supported by an entire page that has been precision-engineered in at least a dozen different ways.

 

As you can see, effective link building takes time. But it is definitely worth the wait.

 

Google Rarely Trusts Speed

cheetahIn light of the above point, it’s also important to understand that Google is wary of links that gain too much popularity, too quickly.

 

At one time, you could create hundreds of links literally overnight and reap the benefits. The benefits usually didn’t last, but then you could do it again. And again and again, until you either gained the traction you wanted or got banned from Google’s search engine.

 

These days, all it takes is a slight portion of unnatural-looking links headed your way in a short period of time to put you on the penalty box with Google. Google may not remove your site from its index entirely, but it may apply such a heavy penalty that you won’t really know the difference.

 

That doesn’t mean that getting lots of links all at once will instantly sink your ship. In fact, getting hundreds of links from an article that goes viral on Facebook, Twitter, or another social media site, is a recipe for success.

 

But Google has gotten very good at detecting “link spam”. In fact, some would say it’s gotten a little too good. And while it’s just fine to share your content on Facebook and get as many links as possible in as short a period of time, too many links in too short a time can trigger a manual review. If you or your provider are using techniques that provide too many links too quickly, this review could sink your ship almost overnight.

 

So if your SEO provider doesn’t build links at quite the pace you’d like to see—rest easy. They’re actually doing you a favor.

 

Good SEO Takes Fine Tuning Along the Way

 

Once this work is thoughtfully undertaken, you or your provider will then have to deal with the fact that Google does not stay the same. And neither does Bing and Yahoo!

 

more ispionage

 

The way search engines rank sites can change overnight. These changes have brought many profitable websites to their knees, knocking out six-, seven-, and even eight-figure businesses literally overnight. The most dramatic of these updates are known as Panda and Penguin, although there have been others.

 

At the end of the day, no one but the search engines have control over the SEO landscape. What you do have control over is how you respond to the changes. Good information from good systems and SEO know-how is often the difference between “sink” and “swim” when it comes to the business you conduct online.

 

Thank you for visiting.
Andrew Radics

 

Original Article Source: http://www.searchenginejournal.com/why-does-seo-take-so-long/62670/

 

Have You Or Your Search Engine Optimization Company Ruined Your Rankings?

With all of the Google algorithm updates these past few months, how is your website ranking at the moment? If you are like many other website owners, the recent changes by Google has affected your site, mostly in a negative way. More to the point, what does your search engine optimization company say about the major drops in your rankings? If however you do your own seo on your site, what have you done wrong to warrant such a negative impact on your site from an update by Google?

 

The answer to that is, probably nothing at all. Many people do not realize that Google do many updates every year. With most of them, they let the industry know but many others they probably don’t. The easiest way to know when they have done an update is if and when you notice a drop in your rankings. Often times, websites that have done nothing wrong will get caught in their ‘net’ so to speak. Meaning that your website is affected like collateral damage in their updates. And they do these updates to make the search results as relevant as possible to the searchers queries. To give you an example of this, we have a client whose site was affected with some of their keywords. Virtually over night a few of their keywords went from the 1st page to past the 10th page. Needless to say they were a bit worried thinking that we have done something to get them penalized by Google. I had to explain to them that Google have just done an algorithm update and that I expected their results should go back to where they were and in some cases even higher. Sure enough, a week or so later, the keywords that were negatively affected went back to where they were before the update and some even higher. That particular update Google called it a ‘relevancy update’ and these updates can sometimes take a while to get the results they want. The important thing is not to panic when this type of thing happens.

Googles Webmaster Guidelines For Search Engine Optimization

 

As an seo company, we have heard and read about some of these disasters both from the clients viewpoint as well as from the search engine optimization companies viewpoint. In some cases however, the drop in rankings is a direct result of an seo company doing things that Google do not approve of. On the other hand, if you are doing your own seo, you might not even be aware of what you are doing is against Google’s web master guidelines. Many do not even know that such guidelines exist. This is hardly surprising though as there is so much misinformation out there on the world wide web as to what seo really is and what is effective and what is not. If you are doing your own seo on your website, stay away from the following methods:

 

  • Link Building Software
  • Blog Commenting Software
  • Automated Article Spinners and Automated Article Posters
  • Automated Web 2.0 Account Creating Software

 

These methods are very tempting as they fully automate the whole thing so it would free your time up to work on your business  However, what these systems do is basically ‘spam’ Google with hundreds, thousands or even tens of thousands of back links pointing to your site. Most of the information out there tells you that if you get as many back links as you can get pointing back to your site, the higher you will get. That may have been true a few years ago but not any more. These types of link building software just create all these useless links that are really of not benefit to your site at all. The sad thing is that many search engine optimization companies use these types of software and that’s all they do. The thinking is that the more links you have the better. That is just NOT TRUE these days. Google are onto this and that is why many clients legitimate sites disappear from the rankings due to their seo company using such methods.

 

If your seo company has caused your rankings to drop or if you have inadvertently done the same, get in touch with us here at the Expert SEO Company. We can have a look at your site and recommend a course of action to get your site to the top where it deserves to be.