Tag Archives: SEO

Does Google Give Preference to AdWords Advertisers?

Google has always claimed that advertising on AdWords will NOT impact the natural search results of a website.

However, sometimes I get suspicious….

Like when I see a client of mine, who has been in business since 2003 being beaten out in the organic rankings by a newbie (business started October 2012) and that newbie is an AdWords advertiser.

Here are some of the stats I look at when doing competitive website analysis:

  • Age of Site
  • Number of Pages Indexed
  • Number of incoming links (backlinks) reported – take this stat with a large grain of salt… it’s usually very under-reported.
  • Social signals (Twitter mentions, FB likes, Google +1)

So, I did a little research using the SEOQuake Chrome Extension:

AllSmokedUp.com:

  • Age, May 2004
  • Pages Indexed: 29
  • Backlinks: 4
  • Social: Tw, 2; FB, NA, +1, 23 (note: FB stats do not appear to be correct, I  know ASU has lots of likes)

farmboyssmokinbbq.com

  • Age, May 2013
  • Pages Indexed: 5
  • Backlinks: NA
  • Social: Tw, 10; FB, NA, +1, 0

At first glance, based on these stats there is no way that farmboy should be outranking AllSmokedUp. But wait! Although farmboy’s business was started in October 2012, the website has a start date of May 2013. That’s only  2 months ago. It looks like they may be experiencing what I have seen frequently with Google results… a brief “moment in the sun” of great rankings within about 2-3 months of a new site starting up. I believe it’s part of Google’s algorithm that “rewards” recency and “newness” for a brief period before the site sinks back into the abyss for 6-8 months and then levels out to its “proper” position in the natural search results.

Well, it looks like we’re in a “wait and see” period. I’m going to watch these results and see if my theory holds… that this is the “moment in the sun” for that new site and there isn’t a conspiracy to boost the natural search results of sites that advertise on Google AdWords.

Choosing an SEO/SEM Company

There are a lot of companies offering SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and SEM (Search Engine Marketing) services. How do you know which one is going to be the best fit for your company and budget?

It helps to have an understanding of how search engines index and rank websites. Knowing how the search engines work and how competitive your important keyphrases are can help you judge how much assistance you will need to improve your website visibility. Google didn’t used to be as transparent as they are now about how the search results work. These days, you can get guides directly from Google on how to improve your website’s visibility.

Google OptimizationConsider your budget, both the money you have available to spend on internet marketing and your time…. sometimes it’s better for you to invest some time in learning what needs to be done and doing it yourself. Google has a whole SEO guidebook filled with helpful information, that I highly recommend. However, if the whole idea of DIY SEO/SEM makes you break out in a sweat, it’s time to bring in some experts.

Some useful questions to ask an SEO include:

  • Can you show me examples of your previous work and share some success stories?
  • Do you follow the Google Webmaster Guidelines?
  • Do you offer any online marketing services or advice to complement your organic search business?
  • What kind of results do you expect to see, and in what time-frame? How do you measure your success?
  • What are your most important SEO techniques?
  • How long have you been in business?
  • How can I expect to communicate with you? Will you share with me all the changes you make to my site, and provide detailed information about your recommendations and the reasoning behind them?

read more: http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=35291

SEM (Search Engine Marketing) is search engine advertising vs. search engine optimization. SEM agencies set up ad campaigns that show up on search results and/or related websites based on your company’s keywords and location. The primary overlap between SEO and SEM are the keywords you would like your site to be more visible for.

I primarily use Google AdWords for SEM and they have recently instituted an audit procedure for advertising agencies to be sure that the agency is being transparent about the keywords being advertised, the average costs per click and other statistical information about the campaigns. The questions to ask an SEM company are similar to those you would ask SEO firm. Make sure that they are willing to be transparent with you and share any analysis data that you ask for on a regular basis. Checking the analytics is the best way to know if your campaigns are working or not. If you’re interested in giving AdWords a try, let me know (I have coupons for new advertisers.)

As with most things, it helps to get a referral from someone you know and trust, ask around to get recommendations.

References:

Do you use dates in your URLs?

Several of my clients are jumping into the world of blogging and I reached out to my most excellent colleagues (Hi Max & Brian) to help get some WordPress blogs designed, installed and setup for me.

Since these are new blogs, the question of subdomains vs. subdirectories came up (more on that later, still researching a few things) as did the question of blog URLs including dates or not.

URLs Dates or Not?

This blog is currently setup with year and month in the URL. Nearly all news sites I’ve seen use the full date in their posts. I’ve had a blog since May 2006, so I have a pretty good archive of posts that include the date in the URL. If I were to change mid-stream to a no-date structure, I think I’d have a lot of redirecting to do.

Although I just made the change for my personal blogs and posts seem to be redirecting properly from the old date format URLs… H’mm, am I bold enough to try making the change on my 7 year old blog just to “see what happens?”

Here are links to a few differing viewpoints on dates in URLs:

And a quick video from Matt Cutts about it. Basically he says you don’t need the date, but that it can be a good usability feature to have the date easy for your visitors to find. However, the date doesn’t have to be in the URL, it can be in the post content. Google doesn’t use the URL to determine “freshness” of information.

 

So, if you are starting a new blog, will you use dates in your URLs or not?

Understanding Why Social Media is Important

Love it or loathe it, social media is here to stay. And now that “social signals” are factors in how your website is ranking, it becomes even more important to at least understand how the social animal works.

Social Icons
First a little basic SEO background. Here are some of the things that are important factors in how your website ranks in the search results:

  • relevancy of your content (how closely does your site content match the search query?)
  • age and size (number of pages) of your site
  • quality incoming links to your site

Active involvement in Social Media can impact both the size of your site (if you are blogging on your own domain) and the number of incoming links to your site.

Here’s how.

  • Every blog post is a new page on your site
  • If you title your blog post with your important keyphrases you increase the relevancy of your content
  • Content you post, like photos and video stay under your own control and can increase click-throughs to your site when the images show up in search.
  • If you then post your own blog posts out on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ the visits and links back from those sites can increase both your incoming link value and your site traffic.
  • If you engage in conversation with your audience via Blog Comments, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn you increase the “social signals” that can impact rankings.

Do you  have questions about Social Media? Please ASK!

Resources/References:

Why Wistia for Video Hosting?

I just recently bought a basic plan with Wistia to host the videos I produce for my business website and for my personal blogs. I made the decision to go to a paid version within a week or two of having the free service.

ScreenShot961The main question you’re probably asking is why not YouTube or Google Video or Vimeo? For me, as an SEO the biggest bummer with those video hosting services was that all the link juice for the better videos I created was going to YouTube (or Google Video, etc.) Now, if you have advertising on your videos, that might make you want to stay with your present video hosting service. But if you’re not using advertising on your video, wouldn’t it be great to get all the credit for your productions? and have a live “call to action” button on your videos?

The beautiful thing about Wistia, aside from the ease of use, the straight-forward instructions, the superb videos (and advice) is the fact that you can easily edit your sitemap to include your videos. So your website (not your hosting service) gets the credit for the value and traffic that your terrific videos are creating.

Add this to all the information we all know about video marketing being the wave of the future (and how much we all love a good video tutorial) and you have a perfect combination.

The steps for Video SEO are very easy (http://wistia.com/doc/video-seo). You just have to get a few things in place and use the embed code type that facilitates the use of the sitemap code that allows you get the full value of the videos on your site.

Video SEO Made Simple:

  • Create your video
  • Upload to Wistia
  • Make sure your Robot.txt is setup
  • Embed your video using the Advanced Type: SEO Embed
  • Make an entry to your video sitemap

They also have great analytics on your vids… number of views, engagement stats, etc.

Video Engagement Stats

It’s a beautiful thing. And besides, videos are fun.

Resources:

How to Learn SEO Online for Free

Learn SEO Online

When I learned about SEO, it was a very new industry. There weren’t SEO Universities or any formalized training classes. I learned all the fundamentals from Jill Whalen’s Newsletter, Website and Forum at HighRankings.com

I have since expanded the sites that I visit to keep up with SEO, but I do keep it to a minimum. There is sooooo much information available now about SEO and all the different aspects of online marketing, but I find that the fundamentals are still very true. Make a good site, make it easy for your visitors and the search engines to find you, provide relevant information and you can be successful.

So, if you are learning about SEO, here are the top 5 sites that I visit when I have an SEO or SEM question.

  • High Rankings Newsletter
    • This is where it all began for me… I searched for something like How to get High Rankings, and found Jill Whalen’s website and newsletter. This is where I learned the foundation of SEO.
  • High Rankings Forum
    • The High Rankings Forum is where I go first if I can’t find an answer myself or if I need a “reality” check from other pros on a topic. Lots of fantastic information here!
  • SEOMoz
    • I’ve recently fallen in love with mozinars. I thought, at first that they were only available to pro members, however they are free to any registered user. There are a variety of fantastic topics and much to learn.
  • SEOBook
    • I don’t go here quite as often as I used to, but I follow Aaron Wall on social networks and pay attention to what he says.
  • Search Engine Journal
    • Recently I have been seeing some great content here. Maybe it’s been here all along and I just wasn’t paying enough attention!

So, what are your favorites? Where do you go to learn SEO online?

5 Best Tools for SEO Analysis

SEO Analysis Tools

Following is a list of my (current) favorite tools for SEO Analysis. There are many, many tools available; some paid, some free. This list is simply my current favorite tools.

  1. A1 Website Analyzer by Microsys
    • This handy-dandy tool is an inexpensive piece of software that scans and documents all the URLs on a website. It shows the URL, the response code, the number of internal links and external links, the page titles, meta-descriptions, meta-keywords, H1 and H2 text, and lots of other data about a website’s pages. This the first tool I use when asked to analyze a website for an SEO project. The spreadsheet that you can create via export also serves as the basis for part of my final reports where I replace the current data with my SEO recommendations.
  2. Google Webmaster Tools
    • Using Google Webmaster tools is the best way to see how Google sees your website. There’s so much information here it deserves it’s own dedicated post and screencast. For now I will just say it’s a tremendous tool, but if you don’t have your site verified with Webmaster tools, you can use things like the Google AdWords Tool to learn more about how Google sees your site.
  3. Google’s AdWords Tool
    • I use Google AdWords keyword tool (if you have an AdWords account, it’s right there in your dashboard, if not use the external tool) to see the keyphrases that Google sees on a website. By typing in the website address in the website field and clicking search  you will see the words and phrases that Google sees as being related to the site content. They provide you with estimated search volumes, level of advertiser competition and estimated costs-per-click if you were to advertise on those phrases.
  4. WebCEO
    • This was my very first SEO software related purchase and I still use it today. There are many things you can do with WebCEO including keyword research, link research, and rank checking. These days I mostly use it for keyword rank checking. They’ve added a new level of information that can show where the site is appearing for organic search, paid search, local/map results, video, etc. I used to use this tool alot for link research, but now I use…
  5. OpenSiteExplorer
    • I have a sort of on-again off-again relationship with the pro account at SEOMoz. I love the tools, especially the newest ones like Followerwonk, but the starting price for the Pro Account is $99/month and I just can’t justify that price for the regular information I need. Anyway, OpenSiteExplorer is a great tool to explore the incoming links to a site, the anchor text of those incoming links, the page and domain’s authority. You can also compare up to 5 different sites for some fantastic competitive metrics.

Do you have some great tools to share? Please comment below.

Video Marketing Made Easy, without YouTube

Read a great article today on Video SEO (sorry I don’t have the link of the original article!) and followed a link to http://wistia.com/

Am trying my first video embed using the SEO embed code. Depending on how well this works… I may be not only writing a lot more about this, but also using this service to host my videos.

Oh how I LOVE to learn new stuff!



Business Owners – PAY ATTENTION to Local SEO

Local SEO - Pay AttentionIt’s something we often forget to do (aside from the occasional Googling of our names…). Check for how our business is appearing online. See how we “Show Up” when the world searches for us.

If your business is locally based, this is especially important.

Search for your business with your exact location (city, state) and locations near you. See how your business listing in the local results shows up… check Google, Yahoo, Bing, Yelp, Merchant Circle (or have a service like Yext do that leg-work for you).

See how you show up, make corrections and edit as needed.

Cost of bad local SEO

 

On-Site SEO isn’t enough (and hasn’t been for a while)

On-Site SEO Used to be the Whole Story

SEO – Search Engine Optimization is a constantly evolving field. As the competition and the search engines change, the plan and strategy for promoting your website online has to change as well.

Back in the day, it used to be enough to “feed” the search engines with what they were looking for in terms of keywords, etc. That would enable your site to be found for your important keywords.

Now there are local results, map results, video results, social results, and more. You need to be aware of where and how your potential customers search and use the internet. You need to use all the tools available to you.

[dropshadowbox align=”none” effect=”lifted-both” width=”250px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]Stay tuned to learn more of the latest tips and tricks to get your website the visibility it deserves.[/dropshadowbox]