April 9th, 2012
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I love SEO tools. I’m sort of a pack-rat when it comes to Google Docs tools and Excel add-ins. I went absolutely nuts when Tom Critchlow posted his Google Docs SEO tutorial on distilled. Since then, I’ve rolled a few tools of my own and collected pretty much anything to do with SEO and spreadsheets since then.
I’m a firm believer in bootstrapping. As an SEO consultant, the less I have to spend on tools, the more I can reinvest in my company and grow the business. With an eye toward the virtues of bootstrapping, I’ve assembled a list of the best SEO tools for Excel and Google docs I’ve ever seen. I hope you find it as endlessly intriguing and useful as I do.
Before we get started, be sure you have an SEOmoz/Linkscape API key. That will be important.
First off, I want to show you a tool I concocted after reading Tom’s tutorial. It borrows heavily from the example in Lesson two, but I want to give you a quick idea of the potential here; I’m by no means a programmer, but if I can make my own tools with these things, so can you.
Long Tail Keyword Prospecting
Long Tail Keyword Prospecting – Make a Copy
Long Tail Keyword Prospecting – Instructions (right here!)
The basic idea behind this tool is to quickly explode your keyword list with long-tail goodness. It’s not an exceptionally robust tool, but it’s great for brainstorming article topics and the like.
You’ve got four columns here. The formulas behind the sheet will slap the various permutations together and run each of them through Google Suggest, spitting out a list of 2-10 keyword suggestions.
The really fun thing about this tool is how easy it is to drill down to the uber long-tail phrases; I got a suggestion for “car speakers reviews” from the root “car speakers”, so let’s drill a bit deeper and run the suggest for “car speakers reviews” by adding “reviews” to our 3rd word column.
Ta-da! Instant prospecting. Follow the link above and make a copy of the spreadsheet. Then, have your way with it.
Content Strategy Generator
Content Idea Generator – Make a Copy
Content Idea Generator – Instructions
The folks at SEOgadget deserve a huge thanks for this; almost half of the tools I’ve collected have come from them. Their Content Strategy Generator Tool is an amazing piece of work that gives you more trending headlines and topics on a keyword search than you could possibly handle in one sitting. Couple this with the link prospecting tool, and you’ll never be able to use the “writer’s block” excuse again.
This tool doesn’t take much explanation: the results speak for themselves. Drop a topical keyword in the query box (currently holds “hotel”) and watch the magic happen. The sheet will automagically pull top news headlines, tweets, YouTube videos, Digg and Reddit results, Topsy results, Yahoo! Answers, Blog Catalog results, Fark articles and more. I know, I cried too.
This sheet will keep your finger firmly on the pulse of the news in your niche. Just thinking about the possibilities makes me salivate.
SERP Competitive Analysis
SERP Competitive Analysis – Make a Copy
SERP Competitive Analysis – Instructions
Distilled practically sweats innovation and tools, and this one from Tom Anthony is a salty, gorgeous example of that.
When you want to analyze keyword competition quickly, you can crack open this spreadsheet and see the MozRank, domain authority and number of linking root domains.
It’s also a great way to give a client an at-a-glance look at what they’re up against. Maybe it will help them manage their expectations when they’re telling you to get them to rank #1 for “credit cards.”
Oh, and remember when I said you’d need a Linkscape API token? That time is now.
SEOmoz API for Google Docs
SEOmoz API for Google Docs – Make a Copy
SEOmoz API for Google Docs – Instructions
This one is pretty self-explanatory; it pulls Linkscape/OpenSiteExplorer data into a Google spreadsheet. This is a great baseline template for rolling your own competitive analysis tools and the like. I don’t really feel like this needs more explanation, so go in and mess around with it. If you break it, just make a new copy from the link above.
OSE Link Profile Tool
OSE Link Profile Tool – Make a Copy
OSE Link Profile Tool – Instructions
Oh, holy crap. It’s Tom Anthony again! I’d forgotten where I’d found this tool until I started writing this post. Let us all bow our heads and offer our oblations to the great Tom Anthony. Amen.
This is similar to the Link Detective tool shared in this post not too long ago. It builds out a visual representation of your link profile, helping you identify anomalies that you can smooth out or correct.
In the instructions Tom provides in the link above, you can see his analysis of a client’s link profile, highlighting the fact that they have an abnormally large percentage of links from sites with a domain authority of 25-34. The high concentration of similar domain authorities can be a signal of a link wheel, blog network or paid link. Instant actionable data! Delicious.
Oh, you thought we were done? No way, Jose. Now we’re to the Excel section. Excel has a few advantages over Google Docs spreadsheets, and Gdocs does better with some things than Excel. The takeaway is that it’s better to use both than to rely on just one. So here are the three best Excel SEO tools I’ve seen.
AdWords API Extension for Excel
AdWords API Extension for Excel – Download
AdWords API Extension for Excel – Instructions
Oh look, SEOgadget again, who could’ve figured?
This tools makes analyzing potential traffic crazy easy; toss in a list of the keywords you’re targeting, mess with the numbers and roll a formula to determine CTR and you’ve got some solid projections. While it does require an AdWords API key (which can be difficult to obtain if you’re not a PPC guy), it’s well worth the effort.
The possibilities with this add-in are immense; you can roll this tool together with OpenSiteExplorer reports and domain-centric keyword suggestions to quickly estimate competitor’s search traffic, or, you can judge the fidelity of Google’s predictions against your own traffic data by pulling Google Analytics reports into Excel.
Inbound Link Categorization
Inbound Link Categorization – Download
Inbound Link Categorization – Instructions
Let’s hear it one more time for SEOgadget! Those guys are awesome.
This tool is a lot like the OSE Link Profile Google Docs tool shared above, but in Excel. It also builds in a categorization element that makes segmenting link profiles easy. Oh, and the reports look super sexy too.
You pull in your link profile CSV from OpenSiteExplorer and this spreadsheet will analyze and categorize your link profile, showing you anchor text distribution, and buckets of links based on known directories, article distributors, blog networks and so on. Sexy, sexy data.
Niels Bosma’s SeoTools for Excel
Niels Bosma’s SeoTools for Excel – Download (32-bit OS)
Niels Bosma’s SeoTools for Excel – Download (64-bit OS)
Niels Bosma’s SeoTools for Excel – Instructions
This is the holy grail of Excel SEO extensions. It has one of the most robust feature sets I’ve seen in an extension, and Niels is updating it constantly. It has mind-boggling scraping capabilities (get a proxy if you plan on using them a lot) and a ton of on-page analysis tools.
I don’t think I can say enough about this extension; it’s one of the best free SEO tools out there, and you can use its functions to roll your own tools. I don’t need to waste your time talking about it. Go download it and have fun!
Excel and Google Docs can be some of the best agile tools around, and these are some of the best I’ve found.
What are your favorite Excel/Google Docs SEO tools? Did I miss one?
Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/seomoz/~3/FcDD4gY8feA/excel-and-google-docs-tools-for-the-ultimate-seo-dashboard
April 1st, 2012
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My name is Aaron Wheeler and, up until a couple of weeks ago, I was the manager of the Help Team here at SEOmoz. Rand’s been out of the office at conferences and I’ve decided it’s time to make my move. I’ve been waiting for this moment for 2 years now, sitting idly by, watching SEOmoz use a bunch of robots to tell us about websites and links and the internets. Robots! Robots don’t have brains or morals! How could they possibly find links? Build reports? I played the Portals. I know what happens when you let robots run things.
Needless to say, I’ve decided to make a few changes since Rand’s been gone. Let’s get these engineers off their robot-loving keisters and out into the world, finding links. Let’s stop pretending a bunch of magical “computers” can somehow “build” you a report (they think they’re human!). As part of my takeover, I’ve hired a personal, top-tier videographer, Nick Sayers, to document all of the amazing things I’m doing here. Watch and bask in the glory of the new SEOmoz!
Hope you enjoyed that! Let me know what you think about my new strategies in the comments below.
Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/seomoz/~3/OI9oBHK5AfU/huge-amazing-changes-at-seomoz-a-documentary-of-my-success
March 30th, 2012
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Link building isn’t really link building. It’s relationship building. Links are just the proof of the relationship, as are the tweets, likes, sales… relationship building is link building. Your social graph is your linkerati.
Tom Critchlow encapsulates this with one of these Distilled Pro Tips:
Here’s a few tactics and strategies to build and leverage relationships that lead to links, likes, sales and more. Outreach is for tomorrow. Relationships are for life. Let’s go!
The single most important concept in SEO, marketing, business and life can be summed up with Simon Sinek’s talk here. His theory of ‘The Golden Circle’ is central to everything you and I do, and yet is remarkably simple to understand.
Watch the following TED talk, if not now then today at lunch…. (I promise, it’s worth it!)
Read more at Start With Why.
Everyone knows what they do. Some people know how they do it, whether that be a unique selling point, proprietary process or secret tactic. But very few people know why they do what they do. Very few people know why they get out of bed in the morning (it’s not to make money or profit: that’s a result). People who know why they do what they do prove their belief in what they do.
Rand and the folks at SEOmoz believe in making the internet, and internet marketing better. They firmly believe this is possible by advocating inbound marketing. They so happen to make and promote SEOmoz PRO software
Apple was built around the idea of challenging the status quo. They do this by creating products that are beautifully designed, easy-to-use and user friendly. They so happen to make computers.
37signals believe in simplicity. They do this by creating software that anyone can use and understand “out of the box”. They so happen to make productivity software.
What do you believe in?
It’s incredibly frustrating working with people, doing SEO or anything, who don’t know why they do what they do. It’s also incredibly frustrating working with link prospects who don’t know what they do!
This is your big action point before you move forward. Find your why. Use your why to identify other people and organisations who share your why. Find people who share your beliefs, and if you clearly understand your why, you don’t necessarily need Followerwonk, Buzzstream or any of these link prospecting tools to find people who share your belief. Connect with people who share your why, who share your mission.
You need a reason to get in touch that isn’t totally selfish (“gimme a link” just doesn’t cut it). Find something they believe in and orchestrate a message, event or project around that. An interview for a blog post or guide, product review or maybe just some advice on a project? Of course, you could get your in by pointing out broken links to a webmaster. Ask yourself, if they knew what you were doing and knew you didn’t reach out to them, would they be upset?
So, how to get in touch with these people…?
Your first touch needn’t be as weird as this…
First touch methods should never interrupt or inconvenience your prospect, so I’d avoid cold calling (no matter how successful folks say it is, it ain’t long haul!). Don’t pin your prospects to the spot when you barely know them. Become respected by respecting your link prospects. Remember, you’re building the relationship now. The links all come later
Don’t use email. Not for your first touch. Your inbox is bomb-proof fortress, as is your link prospects. Email from relatively unknown senders is just as bad as anonymous email (why should they care?). With email, it’s too easy to be lazy and become less authentic.
As Gary Vaynerchuk puts it, it’s as if we’re all 19-year old dudes in a bar. We try to close on the first encounter. Don’t. You’ve got to put a ring on it. You’ve got to get in the long haul game. Get their respect as well as their attention.
That was an extract from Gary Vee’s QA at Inc500 Seminar 2011. You should *totally* watch the full thing here
Of course, events are a great way to acceptably meet your link prospects, without appearing as an unknown contact. To casually introduce oneself over a drink is not just acceptable, but welcomed. Of course, this is even better is to have already had your first touch.
In the SEO world, attending events like LinkLove London has been incredible for building relationships. It’s not too often you get to casually talk SEO with a guy like Wil Reynolds (and all the speakers really loosen up at the after parties! ). But that’s where relationships were formed…
LinkLove 2011 was in March. September 1st 2011, the Distilled Linkbait Guide went live and I called back upon those relationships to help get the word out. That’s the not-so-amazing secret to getting links from places like Seth Godin’s blog!
Pssst! If you’re coming to LinkLove London and want to build deep and meaningful relationships with dozens of other smart SEOs showing up there (seriously, that’s half the reason for going) then do what I do and try hovering around the registration desk where Distilled SEOs tend to gravitate to, and the nearest door to the main congress hall where speakers tend to stand between sessions. The Distilled guys will really thank me for that… :p
Oh, and at the after party, just make sure you’re the first guy to get a drink into the hands of whoever you want to talk to, and you’re away. You really can get one-on-one time with a speaker… you just have to be the one in front of them. See you there!
There are plenty of opportunities where people are reaching out publicly for a response; there’s a goldmine of relationship building opportunities at search.twitter.com. (You’ve read the awesome diet coke story on SEOmoz? And the response?) As a link building professional, you need to get as familiar with Twitter advanced search as you are with Google advanced search. There’s a goldmine of relationship building opportunities on Twitter, and you don’t have to be huge to make it work. Anyone can do this!
Alternatively, you can try an “inside job”. Scour your Facebook friends, LinkedIn Contacts and Twitter followers for useful names and organizations to be introduced to. Names that share the same beliefs you do, then politely ask for the brief introduction. Again, make sure you have a reason, be it an interview, business deal or some way you can help them out.
When was the last time you checked where all your Facebook friends worked (oh, and your non-facebook “real life” friends too)…? I discovered a cousin of mine had ended up at Google. Through various Facebook messages, phone calls and emails I managed to fix a lunch in their London Victoria office with the Head of University Programmes there. Eating deliciously seasoned steak and ice cream whilst talking with folks at Google.
As an SEO, you’re conditioned to spotting all sorts of link building opportunities… now you need focus yourself on relationship building opportunities. Think long haul
You can do this!
…like, if I put a gun to your head and asked you if you had ANY other way of contacting this person…
Then try some of these tricks….
Invariably, you’ve got to initiate the conversation and the relationship. And for that you’ve got to send something physical.
Send a box. Yes, a box. A package in the mail. Spend your link building budget with FedEx. You can ignore emails… You can hang up the phone… You can shred letters… But it’s really, really hard to ignore a box. People simply can’t ignore a mysterious package marked “express delivery” sitting on their desk. *ooooh* shiny package!
So long as they don’t think it’s a bomb (!!), it’s brilliantly effective for getting positive attention. Put something in the box that proves your belief, and don’t ever be afraid to go bold with your budget here. You’re making friends for life, remember? I tested this with Distilled last year, by shipping a 3D-printed model of their logo with messages in the package. Here’s a (bad!) picture of it still in production…
This was produced via a 3D-printer before the final lacquer was added.
The great thing with couriering goods is you know whether or not they’ve received it (tracked delivery for the win!). The big bonus of a box is you get the *WOW!* effect. Naturally, surrounding people will come and have a look for themselves. Suddenly, you’ve sparked a conversation which will only lead to them reading your message with that degree of fascination.
Letters I’ve found to be less effective, since they can quite literally be mistaken for spam and you don’t get the “WOW! Gather Round!” factor of a box. You’ll have to make your letter stand out such that it doesn’t look like a commercial too.
Take a leaf out of direct marketers books and try handwriting your addresses rather than mass-mailing, mass-printed stickers. Try varying the size, colour and shape of your envelopes. And please try my personal favourite – origami envelopes – just make sure you print onto good thick paper!
Don’t mislead your prospects. “Traditional” outreach etiquette that Mike King talks about here still applies. Make sure you indulge in sharing your beliefs – prove your why – and show some enthusiasm for what you do. And since you share something in common, talk about something related, but off-topic to what you’re mentioning.
Heck, you’re an SEO consultant so maybe something to help them out with their marketing. That’s a really easy win to show you care about them, what they do and are kind and human enough to offer help. You care about them, remember?
And of course, always make sure you personalise each method of outreach and give a very, very clear call-to-action with ideally just a yes/no decision needed from them. Something like “if you’re interested in meeting on 1st April at 9am at The Epic Sandwich Shop, drop me an email at … or call me at …”. Do the thinking for them, and people love it.
Once you’ve established a relationship with someone, its kinda rude to use form letters. You don’t form letter your mum, so don’t form letter your link prospects. We live in a world where authenticity rules. It cuts through the noise and clutter. Caring about people and relationships really does build links! So throw out your f-ing form letters and start writing some real messages and building a real relationship.
Nothing… nothing beats a real face-to-face meeting. Meet someone for lunch or a coffee. They’ll relax and you’ll be able to have a casual conversation about whatever. Don’t call it a meeting if you don’t have to.
Why not ask if you can spend some time in their offices or with them actually working? Ask to help them out some day… you share the same beliefs and mission, and you have the rest of your working life to seal these kinds of relationships, don’t you? Besides, it’s fun!
Go out of the way for your new friends. My favourite link building tools aren’t Google Docs or Buzzstream, but train tickets and a telephone. I travel the length of the country, and these days you can still get work done whilst travelling (gotta love midday off-peak first class fares!). Yes, this can be practical too!
This is how I build links (and yes, those trains are supposed to tilt!).
Even better, if you’ve got many link prospects in one location, then run an event and meet them face to face. Spend budget on hosting an awesome party, and your link prospects will never, ever forget you. I think this was one of Tom Critchlow’s tips again, but for $5k (about the budget of a decent infographic project?) you could put on a really, *really* awesome party!!
Keep in touch. Write (short!) emails now and again. Banter over Twitter. Share interesting links. Keep people in mind, like you do your friends.
Remember, your social graph is your linkerati. Keep them happy by writing content they’ll read and love sharing over time. Don’t count on them “just reading it” either… ask them what they thought. Solicit comments from them. Get them involved, in a follow-up or response post or something. How can you provoke regular, positive responses?
The big point to building relationships is the benefits over time. You’re not just shooting for one link like you might in your previously outreach emails, but hundreds over several years to the day you retire… and invitations to countless events. And sales. And referrals, Christmas cards, bottles of wine… you’re not changing the status of a contact in a spreadsheet – you’re making genuine friends!
Seth Godin sums it up…
One of my favourite ways to create intrinsically social pages is to create pages about individual people. It’s egobait, and it works. Write detailed, flattering content about people and they’ll pick it up and be over the moon. They’ll share it, their social graph will see it and share it and you’ll begin to build momentum.
Pssst… you don’t have to target the page around a person. You can still target it around a keyword, but make it about a person. Case studies like “How Barry Learnt Ruby in 4 Weeks” work well! You gain the social shares as well as the keyword focused page. Double-win
It’s slightly more difficult to do with brands, since few brands are treated like people. Make pages about individuals. If you’re targeting a bigger brand, then pick a big name from that brand. You don’t know how a brand might react (there may be protocols to control tweeting etc.) but a person is much more likely to react in the way you want. It’s easier to flatter a human than a brand.
Comb through your keyword lists and work out how you can make a page about a person. This can work with product pages, case studies, blog posts, landing pages, sales pages… pretty much anything
Maybe you can’t be bothered to commit to such long term results. Maybe you’ve got to deliver by tomorrow to get your next paycheck, or renew your SEO contract or win budget or whatever…?
Or maybe it just sounds too much like hard work…?
Maybe, just maybe you’re one of those guys who still uses comment spam, article spinning and other grey or “black hat” tactics day to day that make Rand sad. And maybe they even work! That’s kinda cool, right? Covertly breaking the system?
I’ll tell you what’s cool. Being undisputed king of a SERP for years and years to come. Links are just one part of the signal, the signal of a relationship and approval. Google’s algorithm is changing and Google’s algorithm is all around us. Making friends is such a central part of what we SEOs do (and arguably, the most fun part!), but we don’t pay nearly enough attention to it.
You’ve got to have the relationships around you that will last for years and years on end. The internet is still incredibly young (Google’s just hitting puberty). And don’t worry… you’ve got plenty of money to do this, because your marketing budget stretches for many years to come, as will your future relationships.
How long is your endgame? You’ve got to start thinking how you can build a system that build links. If you want to dominate in 5, 10, 20 years time then you need to set out the signals now.
You’ve got to start thinking long haul. If you’re not “in bed”, so to speak, with all folks in your industry, someone else is going to take your cake and eat it. You know your industry, so imagine your fiercest competitors cosying up with key industry figures over some joint venture, collaborative linkbait or something else.
The rise of all these social networks isn’t the point. The point is you can now connect easier with these tools to people who share your why and your beliefs. You can build and maintain these incredible relationships that will make you win in the long run. Aim for where the game is going to be, not where the game is now.
This is how I build links, get jobs and make sales. These tactics and strategies will only become more effective over time, not less. Use them to chase your dream links…
…then let me know how it goes in the comments.
Thanks for reading!
Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/seomoz/~3/7lGQ1jyiYsI/building-awesome-relationships-for-links-likes-and-love
February 15th, 2012
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Nearly everyone knows about Rick Santorum’s Google problem, and how it may be tripping him up in his long race to win the Republican nomination to run for president. What not everyone knows is that he’s no longer the only Republican hopeful with such a problem. Mitt Romney just recently joined the club.
Danny Sullivan offers a run-down of the most recent events on Search Engine Land. In case you’ve been too busy to watch campaign developments, I’ll start by saying don’t Google “santorum” or “romney” unless you really want to be grossed out. It’s worth studying what happened here, however, as an example of the power of links over time – and how that may be changing.
We’ll start with Santorum’s well-known story. Back when he was simply a senator, in 2003, Rick Santorum publicly compared gay sex to “man-on-dog” sex. This angered Dan Savage, a popular and controversial columnist in the GLBTQ community. He ran a contest to come up with a definition for the word “santorum.” I won’t tell you which definition won. I don’t need to, because Savage next set up a web page with that definition on it, SpreadingSantorum.com, and encouraged his fans to link to that page appropriately.
Over a relatively short period of time, this page became the first result to come up in Google for searches on the term “santorum.” Even today, with Rick Santorum’s campaign maintaining his websites, SpreadingSantorum.com is the first result to come up in Google for a search on “santorum,” right after a sponsored ad and a Google box that lists the results for U.S. Republican presidential primaries. Savage’s site even beats Wikipedia’s entry for Rick Santorum.
Of course, it doesn’t help that Santorum has become a regular joke on The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, the wildly popular comedy news and political commentary programs. Sullivan provides a summary of these moments, with clips from the shows going all the way back to 2006. Clearly, this politician’s problem didn’t start overnight, and it won’t disappear overnight, either.
Before we go on, however, it’s important to note that this is NOT a Google Bomb, despite some people in the media claiming it is. A Google Bomb happens when lots of people link to a particular page with anchor text that doesn’t itself appear anywhere on the page, thus causing it to rank high in the search results for that text. This is how former president George Bush’s biographical page on the White House’s website suddenly started ranking high for “miserable failure” a few years ago. Google fixed that problem algorithmically, by preventing pages from ranking for terms in their anchor text that aren’t on the page itself. The word “santorum” actually appears on the spreadingsantorum.com page, however…just as the word “romney” actually appears on the spreadingromney.com site.
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Article source: http://www.seochat.com/c/a/Search-Engine-News/Romney-Feels-Santorums-Google-Pain/
February 15th, 2012
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Every marketer knows that anything “above the fold” will attract the most attention. That’s why many advertising-supported websites put lots of ads near the top of the page. Now these ads are attracting some possibly unwanted attention from Google.
You know that the search giant focuses on getting users to the sites that best answer their queries. If you’ve been trying to rank for a while, you probably also know that Google cares about the user’s experience once they arrive at the site. This fact drives most of their algorithm changes. It’s why Panda devastated content farms; the thin content these sites often provided helped relatively few searchers, and cluttered the search results with low quality pages.
Google’s newest algorithm change also stems from searcher concerns. You can read their blog post covering the issue. But you almost don’t need to read it to understand why they’d do it. Think like a searcher. You’re looking for meaty content. How do you feel when you click a promising link from a search result, hoping to find the answer to your query – only to find what appears to be a page full of ads? Sure, there’s real content on the page, but you can only see about an inch or two of it visible, and you must scroll down to make out the rest.
You can curse Internet-shortened attention spans and laziness all you want, but the fact of the matter is, that’s a frustrating experience. And Google has chosen to do something about it. The search company changed its algorithm to look “at the layout of the webpage and the amount of content you see on the page once you click on the result,” it explained in the blog post. Google has heard complaints from users who click on a result and can’t find the content: “Rather than scrolling down the page past a slew of ads, users want to see the content right away. So sites that don’t have much content ‘above-the-fold’ can be affected by this change…Such sites may not rank as high going forward.”
It’s important to note that Google is singling out sites that place excessive above-the-fold ads; they’re not trying to penalize advertising-supported publishers who use a normal amount of this kind of advertising to help monetize their content. The search giant stated that this change “noticeably affects less than 1% of searches globally.” If you believe your site has been affected, you can try out Google’s Browser Size tool to check the appearance of your site under various different screen resolutions.
Maybe you figure that this change won’t affect you; it’s less than one in a hundred sites, right? As Alan Bleiweiss explains on Search Engine Journal, “that’s a big mistake…With billions upon billions of searches taking place, that’s an awful lot of searches impacted.” Which brings up the following questions: how do you know if your site got dinged by this algorithm change? And what can you do about it?
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Article source: http://www.seochat.com/c/a/Google-Optimization-Help/Google-to-Penalize-For-Excessive-AbovetheFold-Ads/
February 15th, 2012
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Have you ever experienced a sharp pain in your side or numbness in a leg and used Google to find out whether you should call the doctor? You’re not alone; in fact, so many searchers do this that the search engine giant modified its algorithm to help.
According to a Google blog post by Dr. Roni Zeiger, Google’s Chief Health Strategist,many users searching for symptoms often follow this up with a search for a condition related to those symptoms. For example, those searching for “abdominal pain” may follow it with a search for “irritable bowel syndrome.” So Google decided to speed this process up a little.
According to Dr. Zeiger, “now when you search for a symptom or set of symptoms, you’ll often see a list of possibly related health conditions that you can use to refine your search. The list is generated by our algorithms that analyze data from pages across the web and surface the health conditions that appear to be related to your search.”
How exactly is this different from what you saw before? Greg Sterling, writing for Search Engine Land, included “before and after” screen shots in his article, after noting that the after shots were provided by Google. One screen shot showed results before the change of a search on “headache.” It showed the standard links, with the top one showing the headline “Headache Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis…” with the word “Headache” in bold. That’s quite straightforward.
The after-the-change screen shot for the “headache” search brings up a box with the heading “Searches related to headache.” Below this is a list of conditions, with the start of a sentence describing that condition. The list includes migraine, tension headache, cluster headache, migraine headache (yes, that’s separate for some reason), and meningitis. The line for migraine says “A recrrent thrubbing headache that typically affects one…” The conditions are in blue, meaning that they’re linked to specific searches for those illnesses. Finally, at the bottom of this box appears the following phrase, in small type: “Drawn from at least 10 websites including nih.gov and wikipedia.org – How this works.” The last three words are also in blue, meaning that they’re linked to a page that explains, at least to some degree, how Google does this particular bit of magic.
As Dr. Zeiger notes, the data you get from this search is aggregated from sites around the web and not from doctors. It should not be construed as medical advice or diagnoses. But it just might make it a little easier to do the research before you make that doctor’s appointment. “We’re humbled by the number of people who turn to Google with such important questions, and we are working especially hard to make our search results even more useful for health searches,” Dr. Zeiger wrote.
More Google Optimization Articles
More By Terri Wells
Article source: http://www.seochat.com/c/a/Google-Optimization-Help/Google-Playing-Doctor-With-Health-Searches/
February 15th, 2012
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Google+ has crept into SERPs near you. From getting hyper-personalized results popping up everywhere to recommending people to follow or showing you results you’ve +1′d or posts you’ve made, Google+ isn’t giving you the choice to ignore it. (Unless you use Bing, Yahoo!, or another search service entirely.) Sure, there are ways to depersonalize it; but who has the time for another click, unless you’re really getting results you aren’t happy with or being an SEO super-sleuth. From author spotlights or highlights from those you’ve circled, it seems the closer you are to a keyword and its SERPs, the more intense the personalization gets.
Check out my entire page of personalized results when I search for “SEOmoz”:
As anyone knows who’s tried to do a little bit of personalization to customers, personalization is hard. There are zillions of factors and complex algorithms to work through. But we also know when it comes to conversions, personalization is a huge win-sparkle.
But Google has the employee bandwidth and some of the best minds of several generations working on making personalization happen. Despite their numerous products, search is Google’s crown jewel; 80% of searches are done there because they generally deliver better results than their competitors. (Sorry, Bing and Yahoo!, but “Google” is a verb.) In the long-run, personalized results are going to be easier for Google and provide more relevant results for users, which will keep users coming back for more.
Google+ Worker of a You-Sourced Search Engine
Have you signed up for a Google product? Congratulations, you are now a Google volunteer. No, you don’t get any benefits except one: using Google’s (mostly) free products. Instead, as you surf the web, your movements will make your own crowd-sourced engine. Or as a crowd of one, you-sourced.
When you search for “angel,” are you looking for a brooding vampire, not ethereal creatures or charity networks? Don’t worry, Google already knows because you’re subscribed to the Tumblr Angel Does Stuff and you wrote a blog post about how much you love Lilah Morgan. Not to mention, you’ve visited Angel‘s IMDB page while rewatching it with your sweetie and playing “who’s that actor?”
Maybe you’re new to a field, say it’s “SEO.” Go ahead and circle Rand Fishkin, Danny Sullivan, or Aaron Wall, SEO influencers as suggested by Google, and bam: their recommendations guide your results.
Note: Danny Sullivan, more circlers than Lady Gaga.
Got Authority? Yes, You Do.
A huge problem Google has right now is site authority and quality. Page rank and domain authority are attempts to inform rankings which sites have authority and quality content. But this doesn’t always work. Spammers and black hats have had years of perfecting the dark force to beat Google.
Last year’s Panda algorithm change was a direct assault on sites with duplicate and weak content that were squeezing into rankings. Panda didn’t happen to cause SEOs to tear our hair out. No, it was a direct punch against snake oil SERP results and results that made all of us go “meh.” You can argue that some sites didn’t deserve the hit and got caught in the crossfire, but Panda tossed out a lot of junk.
Now in combination with Panda’s tweaks, Google+ creates the ultimate SERP authority: you. You are awesome, and no one knows what you want better than you. Google+ just isn’t sending you SERPs based on your subtle hints and wish list anymore; now, it’s going directly to you, the source. And if you don’t know about it, perhaps your “circles” will.
I’ve told Google that I love Sherlock, the BBC series, and think way too much about it. Google serves me “Sherlock” SERPs completely filled with what I love. No mention of the books, other TV or film, or various businesses, services, or products using the Sherlock name. My personalized SERP kicks off 3 links that “normally” rank in the top 10. Including a pub chain in Texas, which I’m sure fought hard for that ranking.
Additionally, by giving bloggers the incentive of authority and our tiny photos in SERPs, hooking in your Google+ profile to your blogging platform creates a type of article authority Google hasn’t had before. There’s a reason Rand has a ridiculous number of Google+ followers; if he put out crap, they’d uncircle him. Now Google knows that Rand’s articles are quality content — mostly likely around SEO, inbound marketing, and entrepreneurship — Rand’s content becomes an extremely strong “safe” ranking factor to serve results on. And he gets his smiling face as a recommended follow for “SEO.”
If you haven’t started building your authority with the articles you’re writing, it’s time to jump in. You too can become a safe SERP in your field, interest, or hobby. Are you an authority on something? Is your brand an authority? It’s time to start creating content, curating content, and building up your following. If you’re considered an authority, your rankings may jump higher than they’ve ever gone before.
SEOs: No Longer a Pain in Cutts’ Butt
Google+ radically changes an SEO’s game strategy towards rankings. Good luck getting another SERP into my results for “SEOmoz” the old-fashioned way. That said, the cries of “SEO’s
finally dead” still remain highly exaggerated. Sloppy SEO and some black hat tactics are certain staked in their tracks. Your keyword stuffed article isn’t going to get my +1.
Now I don’t expect Google+ to remain ungamed. There’s a whole subset of the SEO industry who’s made their way on gaming every change Google’s made. But the amount of time and energy you’d have to put into gaming Google+ to convince me that you’re not a bot…I think you got a little bleach on your hat there.
Ultimately, white hat tactics of quality, linkbait content will prevail in the world of Google+. Whether you’re focusing on how-tos or selling jewelry, your content isn’t going to get the love of the +1 if it doesn’t appeal to the people.
Nowhere Near Perfect
Right now, Google’s crowd-sourcing is nowhere near perfect. Not enough people are using Google+ on a regular basis to make a huge impact. Yes, Google says they have 90 million users (800 million on Facebook and 200 million on Twitter for comparison), but no one’s sure just how many people are actually using it.
I know my personal information stream seems a little bare with a few heavy-weight champions *cough*SEOs*cough* dominating my results. Not to mention, my own information comes up a lot. This is great when I share out a link, and I’m trying to find it again. This is not so great if I’m say looking for an image of Doctor Who as I still have those on my harddrive. Or if I’m searching for videos of adorable baby pandas (very likely) and Google serves me White Board Friday Videos posted on SEOmoz’s Google+; no offense, SEOmoz teammates, but I’d much rather watch the bears with the giant heads.
Besides mass user adoption, the biggest hurdles left are of the philosophical nature: privacy and group-think.
Privacy, know our friend “not provided”? Know how Google Analytics went to court in Germany? Or how SOPA came about? When the non-web marketer sees their friends showing up in their SERPs, they’re going to start freaking out. I have a feeling that zombies are on the way out and Skynet and killer robots are back as the villains reflected in our cultural subconscious.
Subtle personalization has been happening for a long time. We like seeing ourselves reflected back in the mirror of advertising, and the best inbound marketing reflects what we need to see, not just what we want to see.
“I’d rather make a show 100 people need to see than a show that 1,000 people want to see.” — Joss Whedon, producer/writer of Buffy: the Vampire Slayer and Firefly
By giving us what we need, Google will also give us diversity of opinions and our feeds can avoid group-think. If my results are completely personalized based on my searches and my circles, they are unlikely to carry thoughts that aren’t similar to my own. Seeing only results from other liberal-minded, web marketers who are giant geeks isn’t what I need, even if that’s the feed I may want to live in.
In order to be truly innovative and understand humanity on the whole, we need a variety of ideas. I need to know that people disagree with my opinions, whether political, personal, or otherwise. And our “circles” have an inherent selection bias in that we generally surround ourselves with people like ourselves.
Not to mention, our circles aren’t experts in everything. My coworker Jen Lopez found that her circles don’t know anything about hotels in Madrid:
Google+ Personalization: Easy-as-Pie Win-Sparkle.
As Google+ builds and more people find value in adopting it as part of their social world, the SERPs will improve. And given that Google adjusts its search algorithm over 500 times in a year, I suspect there’s already geniuses working on these problems. The more Google builds out Google+ for personalization and pushes its you-sourced engine, the better the results will get and the easier it will be for Google to serve each of us what we need.
As we head into a world of personalization, we SEOs are going to focus on the creation of content and distribution of content more than ever. We’re investing in building our authority on subjects for our businesses and hobbies, and there’s nothing better than getting in on the ground-floor.
Make Google+ personalization a win-sparkle for you and your customers. Embrace better content, build your own authority, and make the you-sourced search engine even cooler.
Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/seomoz/~3/nYa4VmhuFX8/google-plus-the-ultimate-you-sourced-search-engine
February 15th, 2012
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For the past decade, most of us in the field of search have relied on Google’s AdWords data (either in the public tool, the API or the tools inside AdWords accounts). It’s the best source we’ve got, but many marketers may not realize that sadly, the numbers and queries may not always match up to what’s actually happening on Google’s search engine. I’ll illustrate with an example.
An SEOmoz blog post ranks in the top 2-3 results for many keywords around the phrase “blog traffic.” Here’s a screenshot of some of those rankings:
I went into our Google Analytics account and pulled the related keywords along with how much traffic they’ve sent in the past 30 days:
Then I went to Google’s AdWords Tool and searched for “blog traffic” to compare the suggestions:
Here I got confused, because many of the terms that we receive traffic for are NOT shown above in the list… Is Google hiding them? Do they not know about them?
To be sure, I typed them into Google’s AdWords Tool manually, performing [exact match] searches only:
Holy cow… There they are. So, AdWords does have volume for these, and will display it, but only if you enter them exactly (or rather, “more exactly” – you can find them if you do sets of imprecise, but closer queries, too). I made the chart below to illustrate which terms were available from the broad reserach:
As you can see, there’s ~50% of the terms not shown in the suggestion list, which is fairly substantive and could lead to some serious missed targeting opportunities.
THE IMPORTANT LESSON: Running discovery-focused searches in AdWords may not show you all the valuable/high-volume keyword phrases connected to a word/phrase.
There are a few ways to address this challenge:
If you have the budget, my top recommendation is to buy a few, very broad keywords in AdWords, send them to a relevant landing page on your site, but realize you probably will lose money on the campaign. The goal isn’t conversions, but rather to learn by watching the keyword terms/phrases for which you get impressions. This is also great conversion-testing if you have the budget to invest, but even a week or two of data can be highly valuable for future keyword targeting.
When searching in AdWords, start broad, and then enter narrower queries and note the new phrases that come up. Make sure to use exact match, and be diligent in testing variations. Google only lies through omission.
The relative numbers of searches aren’t perfect (as you can see above), but they are relatively decent. In fact, I’d say they’ve improved in what they show vs. the actuals you’ll see compared to prior years. However,
Use your own analytics as a guide to find new terms/phrases you might be imperfectly targeting. And if you see keyword variations that have a unique or different intent, it might even pay to create a more targeted page for that query, and you often need less work to rank, since Google uses the “indented results” system to drop a second URL from the same domain directly underneath the first one on a given page.
Now I’d love to hear from you – what are your experiences around keyword research in AdWords? Are you seeing the same thing we are? You can share your thoughts in the comments and/or use the poll below (from a new service called Quipol that has some fun twists):
BTW – Given that 30%+ of our referrals from Google searches are keyword (not provided), I’d venture to guess that all of the numbers from our analytics are underreporting by about that same percent. Keep that in mind when comparing the data from AdWords vs. our analytics above.
Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/seomoz/~3/YWfMvoLSA-o/be-careful-using-adwords-for-keyword-research
February 15th, 2012
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The (True) Story
It was late on a Friday night. My wife and I had been busy all day and all night. Now it was nearly 10:00pm, and we had not had dinner. I called into a favorite local place for takeout. We were both starving and were excited to have a late dinner date at home together.
When I got back home and opened up my meal (chicken), I found an incredibly small amount of chicken. I was very disappointed. In my opinion, I would have gotten more chicken in a kid’s meal from McDonalds.
The Thing This Business Did Right (Social Media Marketing)
When I was picking up the meals, I had to wait a few minutes for them to finish it up. While waiting, I noticed something on their counter, by the registers. They were promoting the fact that they were “now on Facebook,” and asking for people to come and like them on Facebook so that they could be notified of Facebook-only specials.
This was a great way to help people become aware that they were now on Facebook, and gave their customers incentive to like and follow them. To learn more best practices, see this post about best social media practices for 2012.
My Social Media Action
In my disappointment that night, remembering that they were now on Facebook, I snapped a picture of my disappointing meal, “liked” them on Facebook (it killed me to do that, but I had to), and then posted my picture on their wall, explaining my displeasure.
Their Social Media Reaction (Social Media Marketing Mistake)
I got up the next morning anxious to see if they had replied. What I found was not a reply from them, not a direct Facebook message, but that my post had been deleted from their wall! “Are you kidding me!!” I said out loud (and by out loud I mean LOUD). I am pretty sure that I startled my wife who was not completely awake yet.
My Social Media Reaction to their Reaction
Needless to say, I was not happy about them removing my post. I emphatically and rather quickly, reposted the picture with my displeasure of the portion size and then made a comment asking them to “please not remove my post” from their wall.
Their Reaction to my Social Media Tirade
It did not take them but 1-2 hours before they found my post and removed it once again. They still did not contact me privately either. No apologies, no trying to make things right and no explanation. They simply removed my post once again.
Now the Gloves were Off
Now in all fairness to them, they had no idea I knew anything about social media. However, that shouldn’t matter. The fact is there are going to be unhappy customers and you need to address them in your social media channels as well as converse with those that are happy. It could have been a simple apology, and a message along the lines of “we will contact you to resolve this.” Then everything after that could have been behind “closed doors” as it were; but that’s not what they did.
I was more than just an unhappy customer at this point, I was angry. Instead of reposting on their Facebook wall where they would likely take it down yet again, I simply went looking for online review sites to leave negative reviews for them and to tell of my experience with their “customer service”.
Lessons You Should Learn from This
- Your social media properties are an extension of your customer service. DO NOT IGNORE your customer’s complaints on these properties.
- Engagement is key to success with social media, with both good and bad experiences. Here are some interesting facts on small business and social media marketing.
- With unhappy customers, address them quickly on the “public” forum in which they posted and the contact them to handle it “behind closed doors.” If you handle it right, you will not only have a customer for life, you will have an advocate telling everyone about how professionally they handled your complaint. For the record, I have also had this experience as a customer, and I am an advocate for that business now because of the way they handled my experience.
- Addressing bad experiences professionally and promptly with social media is a great way to advertise your commitment to a high level of customer service. Every company gets complaints, so don’t feel like you have to hide anything.
- Like it or not, customers have a power over your business that they have always had – wait, did I say “that they have always had’? Yes, I did! Word of mouth has always an incredibly powerful factor in hurting (or helping) businesses. The difference is you have a chance to be part of that conversation now.
- Some customers will be angry enough to leave negative reviews on review sites, such as Yelp, Google Maps, or Foursquare, when you ignore their outburst on the internet.
If you’ve seen any similar examples of bad social media, share your experiences of social media marketing mistakes in the comments below and start a discussion on what could have been improved.
Tags: Social Media, social media marketing
Article source: http://www.seo.com/blog/business-social-media-marketing-mistake-learn/
February 15th, 2012
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Last summer my friends Suzanne and Hilary invited me to this thing they called ‘Pinterest’ and since then I’ve been hooked. We all love Pinterest and the ability to share ideas, get ideas and use it as a place for inspiration for the things we are doing in our lives. Since joining Pinterest, this social platform has exploded. I didn’t have many coworkers or friends using it when I started, but now most everyone I know either uses Pinterest or knows about it. With this explosion, I wanted to write a series on Pinterest.
And so begins our three-part series discussing Pinterest basics, along with how a company can use it to build its brand and reap SEO and social media marketing benefits.
The Basic Definition
So let’s get down to the basics: Pinterest is a social media platform that allows users to share and collect pictures and videos which link back to the original source whether it’s a corporate site or a blog. If you want to join Pinterest you have to either request an invite or be invited by a friend alreadyon the network. One of the benefits of Pinterest is that it is that easy. And once you join, it becomes addicting as you see what your friends are pinning, get ideas for projects or find the next meal you want to cook.
Pins: A pin is the Pinterest word for a post. You can pin images shared by other users (repin) or you can pin an image from an external site (pin) by installing the Pinterest bookmarklet on your browser. You can also share your pin on Facebook and Twitter. This is an example of a pin:
Boards: Users pin images to boards that are organized into various categories. This can range from ‘Fashion’ to ‘History’ to ‘Home Décor.’
You can also add contributors to your boards, meaning you can allow other people to pin or repin items to your boards. If you are planning a party with other people and you want a place to share ideas a board would be a perfect place for that. Here are some examples of boards:
Likes: Without pinning an image, users can share their opinion by ‘liking’ an image or video they see.
Comments: Users can leave comments on images or videos others have pinned
Following: Pinterest, like Twitter, allows for users to follow one another, whether they are immediate friends, aesthetic contributors or Pinterest mavens. When following, the user is also given the choice to follow all pin boards or to follow a select few.
Followers: These are the people that are following your personal boards and recieve updates in their feed when you pin or repin an image or video.
Feed: As users login into Pinterest, they can see a live feed of images being pinned and repinned . Users can choose to see a feed showing everything being pinned, choose specific categories, or just see the people they are following.
A newer feature on Pinterest is now you can allow your feed to go on your Facebook Timeline.
What’s The Big Deal?
There have been countless articles and blog posts written recently about Pinterest because the number of users has sky-rocketed. The audience is mostly women right now, but is always expanding. Businesses are realizing the potential this platform has for branding or search engine optimization (SEO).
The next post in our series will go into depth on how this growing trend can be beneficial to branding and should be a part of content strategy.
Tags: Link Building, Pinterest, social media marketing
Article source: http://www.seo.com/blog/pinterest-big-deal-part-1/