Google+ And The SERPs

If you’ve been looking forward to Google+ content actually appearing in Google search results, well, the time has arrived. It’s happening.

But so what?

Here’s the so what: If you were using Google+, then it could be your content that is appearing in the Google SERPs.

I’ll go out on a limb here and say that in another year from I believe that Google+ content appearing in the search results will be commonplace. And Google+ users will be getting increasing numbers of visitors from those search engine results. It will be one more channel of traffic for savvy Internet marketers.

It’s also another bit of evidence that social media marketing is more and more becoming a part of search engine optimisation.

Google is using more social signals now than ever. In fact, post-Panda and Penguin, Google is getting more and more social and taking its algorithms further away from link-based. The old link building schemes will work less and less as social media becomes more influential in the search results. If you’ve been looking for that to happen, don’t look now, but it’s happening.

I think this will become the norm for future SEO. More social. More Google+. More to come.

July 30th, 2012 / Search Engine Optimisation

Why You Should Clean Up Old Links

Chances are, if you’ve been online for more than a year and you’ve done a fair amount of link building, you’ve got some old links floating around out there that could use some clean up. Maybe they are inbound links pointing to your website from elsewhere on the web or maybe you’ve got some internal links that need attention. Either way, now is the time to start thinking about cleaning up your old links.

Google has been going around sending out letters to webmasters notifying them they’ve discovered unnatural links. If you’ve got one of these letters, it’s best not to ignore it.

If you have a disproportionate number of sitewide links, then you can do some page-specific link building to dilute your sitewides or you can go back and try to get rid of some of them. It might not be such a bad idea to do both. Sitewide links are usually low value.

Another thing to look at is anchor text. If most of your links have the same anchor text phrase, then you should go and change your anchor text on many of those links to get a little more diversity. In some cases you might want to add a title attribute or delete the one you have.

One other issue that has caused some webmasters problems is the page to which a link may be pointing. You might have to retarget the URL on some of your links.

If you think that your old links might be causing problems in your SEO strategy or search engine rankings, then have a link audit done to see if you need to go through the trouble of cleaning up those old links.

July 28th, 2012 / Search Engine Optimisation

Are Free Or Paid SEO Tools Better?

You might change your mind after August 1st. Microsoft is going to start charging for Bing’s API starting in August. If you’re confused about what that might mean, consider this:

  • Many toolbars and other applications use Bing as the primary search engine, but will they continue to do is if it is free?
  • Free SEO tools will have to charge their users or write off their Bing API expenses as a loss.
  • Many makers of free SEO tools will not be able to afford the exorbitant fees Microsoft is planning to charge.
  • Bing could end up losing market share if a good number of free SEO tool makers choose to not pay for using Bing’s API.
  • A lot of people now following their Bing search rankings may not have any access to continue doing so after August 1st.

The SEO game is changing. Rapidly. This kind of change is the kind of change that could force a lot of small businesses to pay for the services of professional SEOs, who may be able to pay for the use of Bing’s API. The cost of the API can be built into the SEO fee table with a minimum fee to the small business.

So what do you think? Will you like the free SEO tools better after August 1st, or will you prefer the paid ones?

July 25th, 2012 / Search Engine Optimisation

Do You Have A Link Spam Issue?

Link spam is defined as inbound links to your website that are considered “junk” by the search engines. But there are different sources of link spam. One source is your own SEO efforts. If you hire an SEO firm, or you do it yourself, and you build a bunch of bad links to your website, then you could see your website penalized by a subsequent fall in search engine rankings.

There are some nefarious people out there who have figured that out and built a sub-niche within the SEO industry. It’s called negative SEO. This is the second source of link spam.

Negative SEO is when a competitor builds a bunch of spammy links to your website. You don’t have any control over that. And Google knows it. That’s why Google has started notifying webmasters of suspect links through Webmaster Tools. But if you get a notice saying that some links are mistrusted, that doesn’t mean that you’ll be penalized so don’t panic.

Matt Cutts recently posted this on Google+:

If you received a message yesterday about unnatural links to your site, don’t panic. In the past, these messages were sent when we took action on a site as a whole. Yesterday, we took another step towards more transparency and began sending messages when we distrust some individual links to a site. While it’s possible for this to indicate potential spammy activity by the site, it can also have innocent reasons. For example, we may take this kind of targeted action to distrust hacked links pointing to an innocent site. The innocent site will get the message as we move towards more transparency, but it’s not necessarily something that you automatically need to worry about.

If you find yourself being the victim of a negative SEO attack, notify Google and let them know. If you see your site fall in the rankings after such an attack, you can request a site review and have those links discounted.

July 24th, 2012 / Search Engine Optimisation

Why SEO Is A Constant

Sometimes are so constant they never change. SEO isn’t that constant, but if you are busy chasing search engine algorithms, then you don’t see it as constant enough.

A lot of search engine optimisers will tell you to change your tactics to conform to the way Google indexes and ranks websites after the Panda and Penguin updates. I say that’s malarkey. You don’t have to change anything.

In fact, if you do change your SEO practices as a result of Panda and Penguin, then you were probably doing it wrong before.

Here are 8 reasons why SEO is still the same today as it was two years ago and why it will still be the same two years from now:

  1. On-page content should be original, unique and valuable
  2. Inbound links are good, but it’s about quality, not quantity
  3. Keyword densities won’t help you
  4. Write your content for your human visitors first and the search engines second
  5. You should think about the search engines, but don’t put them first
  6. When link building, put your links on sites that will deliver targeted traffic
  7. You need a wide variety of links to succeed at link building
  8. Constant, steady content is best; update your pages often

Search engine optimisation hasn’t changed in years. Quit chasing the algorithms.

July 22nd, 2012 / Search Engine Optimisation

Can You ‘Locally Optimize’ For Scotland?

There may be a little confusion about the difference between local optimisation and geotargeting. While it is possible to geotarget your website’s content specifically to Scotland, I would not call that local search engine optimisation.

Geotargeting can take place across any size geographical area or region. You can geotarget your website specifically to Scotland or to individual cities and communities within Scotland – for instance, Ayrshire. You can even broaden your geotargeted content to cover an area such as the UK, or Great Britain. But local optimization is something that specifically refers to targeted content that is aimed at a specific local community. That community can be a city or regional area such as Ayrshire or a smaller community within the larger metropolitan area or region.

For instance, if you own a business that strictly serves the community of Glentrool, then you can locally optimise your website to reflect that narrow geotargeted field. By the same token, if you serve the entire city of Glasgow, then you can engage in local search engine optimisation. Even serving all of Ayrshire could be considered local for the right business.

But if you serve an area larger and wider than Ayrshire, then you can geotarget your website content, but you might have to engage in several local SEO campaigns to reach each community you serve. There’s a slight nuance, but it’s important to understand it.

July 21st, 2012 / Search Engine Optimisation

Search As You Type Commerce

You have to hand it to Google on one thing. They are constantly trying to improve their product with innovations and useful upgrades. They’ve recently hit upon something that I think could become a real big hit among e-commerce sites. It’s called “Search As You Type.”

Right now, the program is in beta and is only open to AdWords advertisers. Here’s how it works.

You install Search As You Type on your website and users are able to search your site and find what they are looking for as they type. It’s based on Google’s Instant Search feature, which provides searchers on Google.com with suggestions as they type their search queries. The idea is to make search faster.

So, if your customers are looking for something specific on your website and they go to use your search box, if you have Search As You Type on your site, then users can find what they are looking for more quickly. You’ll sell more.

That’s the theory anyway. But will it work? You be judge. Check out this video.

July 13th, 2012 / Search Engine Optimisation

Why Linkbuilding Isn’t Dead

A couple of days ago Scotland SEO reported that Google may start discounting infographic links. If you read into that that linkbuilding is dead, then you read too much. That’s far from the case.

Keep in mind that just because Google kills the value in a certain type of linking strategy, that doesn’t mean that linking strategy is no longer valid.

Let’s say, for instance, that Google decides that all three-word links are invalid. You’ll get no link building or SEO ranking credit for them. Would you still use three-word links in your content? You’d be a fool not to.

Suppose you had a three-word link on a site you wrote a guest article for five years ago and that link was bringing your website 1,000 visitors a day. Would you care if Google discounted it’s value in its algorithm? If you’d care about that, then you don’t really understand link building.

There are different kinds of values when it comes to links. Ranking potential is just one value. And it’s a small one. Traffic value is another. And I’d say potential traffic value for a link is a lot better value than any endorsement by Google.

Stop saying linkbuilding is dead. It’s not dead. It has changed a great deal. But a lot of things change. That doesn’t make them dead.

July 12th, 2012 / Search Engine Optimisation

Will Google Discount Infographic Links?

WebProNews reports that Google is considering discounting infographic links and then links to an interview with Matt Cutts, head of Google’s webspam team. But Mr. Cutts doesn’t say anywhere in the interview that Google is considering discounting such links.

Still, I’d say that assuming they might consider that at some point in the future would be a fair assumption based on the comments that Mr. Cutts does make.

In principle, there’s nothing wrong with the concept of an infographic. What concerns me is the types of things that people are doing with them. They get far off topic, or the fact checking is really poor. The infographic may be neat, but if the information it’s based on is simply wrong, then it’s misleading people.

Google has discounted links in the past because information was misleading. They want their search results to be quality results and if information that is misleading rises to the top, those results will fail the quality test.

The other thing that happens is that people don’t always realize what they are linking to when they reprint these infographics. Often the link goes to a completely unrelated site, and one that they don’t mean to endorse. Conceptually, what happens is they really buy into publishing the infographic, and agree to include the link, but they don’t actually care about what it links to. From our perspective this is not what a link is meant to be.

This is an even bigger no-no. If people decide to republish an infographic and the embed link points to another website where the infographic is not published, that’s truly misleading. It’s also quite nefarious. I would not blame Google one bit for discounting those links.

Any infographics you create will do better if they’re closely related to your business, and it needs to be fully disclosed what you are doing. The big key is that the person publishing the infographic has to know, and agree with, including an endorsement to your site as attribution with the infographic. Even then, there is reason to believe that the link is more about the barter to get the infographic than a real endorsement of your site.

This is an interesting take. Mr. Cutts’ final statement leads me to believe that Google is aware that people who republish infographics don’t always necessarily endorse the site those infographics were originally published on. They like infographic and in order to use it agree to link to a site that they may not otherwise want to link to. But I question whether that is enough to discount the link on.

Webmasters really should take greater care in examining links. If you see an infographic on a website that you can’t endorse, then don’t use the infographic. Don’t pay for the infographic with a link to a site that you can’t get behind.

The interview also has some other great information in it that can help your SEO efforts.

July 10th, 2012 / Search Engine Optimisation

Keyword Research: Data Or List?

Most companies doing business on the Web and who are interested in SEO come to the table with at least a list of keywords they think are important to their businesses. But have those lists been tested? Are you sure your list is a good list?

The big question on keyword research is, How important is that list of yours? Is it more important to stick to your list unwaveringly or go strictly on the data?

I think most SEOs will tell you to do your keyword research and let the chips fall. Accept the data and go with it. Nevermind your list. Naturally, I think keyword research is important and must be done. I wouldn’t say keep your list and live by it religiously.

There are times when you want to ditch the intuitive keyword – the one you think is the best keyword – and go instead with the profitable one based on the research. Then there are times when you’ll want to go with your keyword instead of the one suggested by the research. But when are those times?

In the first case, you should go with the keyword that the research suggests when your two keywords are synonymous terms but you find that more people search for the data-based keyword or it has higher CTR or click prices. In those cases that keyword will undoubtedly make you more coin. But what if the keyword suggested by your research is the wrong keyword for your business? In other words, it’s profitable, gets a lot of traffic and click-throughs, but it just doesn’t fit your business? In that case, go with the keyword on your list. It’s your business and you know it better than Google.

July 8th, 2012 / Search Engine Optimisation