Tagged google

What Goes Into An Optimized Web Page?

A handy cheat sheet for evaluating your optimized web pages.

Back in the early days of Search Engine Optimization, there were not nearly as many factors influencing the visibility and authority of an average optimized web page. It used to be a simple matter of SEO basics, like choosing your keywords carefully, writing some solid copy, taking care of your headers, alt tags and meta tags, and BOOM you were pretty much done!

Well these days things are a bit more complex. There are more factors influencing a page’s SEO rank now than ever before, and it can be a daunting task for website managers, content creators, and SEO coordinators to keep track of them all. Fortunately, the team over at SurePayroll in partnership with Ghergich & Co. have created this nice, tidy infographic on the Anatomy of an Optimized Web Page to help keep things clear:

seo optimized web page Original post on SurePayroll’s blog: http://blog.surepayroll.com/anatomy-optimized-web-page/

 

For more information and advice on SEO, Web Page Optimization, or Digital Web Marketing Strategy, please don’t hesitate to Contact Me today!

Marketing Doubleshot Podcast – Ep. 5 – Brands as Media Companies & Google’s Doorway Page Update

In this episode Josh Muirhead and Jonathan Barrick discuss brands evolving in to full-fledged media companies, putting customer experiences and user-generated content at the forefront. Additionally, Jon and Josh discuss the news of Google’s latest algorithm change, taking aim at doorway pages, and what it means for your SEO strategy.

Links & resources mentioned in this episode:

5 Predictions for GoPro As A Media Company –www.edelmandigital.com/2015/02/19/friday5

Google To Launch New Doorway Page Penalty Algorithm –searchengineland.com/google-to-laun…gorithm-216974

Sammy Ganz, Author or ‘5 Predictions for GoPro As A Media Company’ article – twitter.com/sammyganz

Jay Schneider & the team at Brilliance Business Solutions –brillianceweb.com, twitter.com/emediavangelist

5 Tips to Unleash the Power of Long-Tail SEO

long-tail seo

People ain’t searching the way they used to. It’s a fact. Google doesn’t arbitrarily change their algorithms just because they ‘feel like it’. They do it because they’ve got endless piles of data that tell them how you’re searching, and they constantly tweak their system to deliver the most relevant results.

The most recent update to Google’s world famous/infamous algorithm (Hummingbird, for those of you keeping track) is mostly about ‘semantic’ search (aka: conversational search). In it’s simplest terms, semantic search is more like asking an actual question instead of just plugging in keywords.

For example: “hotels Toronto” vs. “What are the best boutique hotels in downtown Toronto?”

Semantic search queries have additional qualifiers beyond the basic subject. Words like best, closest, cheapest, fastest, etc. get at the root of what KIND of products and services the searcher is actually hunting for. Adding qualifiers to the base keywords creates what is known as ‘long-tail’ searches. These long-tail searches are looking for much more targeted, refined results. This is where the real opportunity presents itself for businesses. Get found for long-tail searches, serve up quality content that solves the searchers problem, and you’ve immediately delivered real value to a potential customer.

How do you make this work for your business? It’s actually a pretty simple formula.

1) Start with a powerful question – Think of the questions your business gets asked every day. What are the frustrations your customers have when evaluating alternatives & choosing products? What knowledge or experience do you have that can alleviate these frustrations? Choose a clearly defined question that originates from the point-of-view of your customers. The key to long-tail search is being a problem solver, so solve THEIR problems, not yours.

2) Write in your customers language – Your company may make the coolest widgets complete with MegaWidget® technology now available in colours like Arctic White™ and Fierce Red™, but none of those proprietary or trademarked words are going to make their way in to your customers search vocabulary. Long-tail search can only be unlocked if the language matches up. Your content needs to be crafted to read in the same manner that your customers talk. Use their terms, not yours.

3) Optimize & maximize – Once you’ve picked a valid question, and written a solid answer in the language that your customers understand, you need to make the piece of content visually readable & optimized. This includes a lot of little things that add up to make a big difference. Break out key points in to bold sub headers or lists, add in supporting images & graphics, embed related content like videos or tweets, link to related content in the body through keywords or phrases, provide a few options at the end for additional content that might be useful. All of these things give your content more weight, and deliver more value to the reader.

4) Put it here, there, and everywhere – You’ve got your content ready to release in to the world, and the time has come. Hit publish and spread it out to all relevant channels. If your community consumes content in various places then make sure this shows up in each of them, but be sure to tailor the share/post to fit the style of the place it’s being shared. Cookie-cutter repetition usually doesn’t jive when you’re dealing with different platforms and formats.

5) Repeat – Great job! You’ve now published a solid piece of content that will reap the rewards of targeted long-tail searches. Now do it again, again, and again. Sorry, but this is how it works. Do it for each and every relevant long-tail search you can think of that you are able to produce and deliver valuable, helpful content. Each question you answer and each problem you solve builds up your brand as the industry expert, as a solution provider, and as the preferred choice.

It’s a long road to go down, but the benefits of being found not just for ‘keywords’, but for solutions to well-defined problems are massive. The most crucial factor of the long-tail search is that it hinges on your ability to deliver value at first sight. You need a legit solution to the question being asked. Solve the problem, and you’ve delivered the value. Search is getting smarter all the time, and so should your content. This is what long-tail is all about; smarter searches, smarter content.

Social Media Sommeliers – Choosing perfect pairs of social networks

by Jonathan Barrick

A well maintained social media presence is like a fine wine; it develops more character as it ages. As you invest more time in to social media, joining additional networks and using new tools, your presence gains different characteristics that it did not have before. However, just as certain wine characteristics mesh well together, others simply do not. Certain wines will pair well with certain foods and enhance the experience, while others conflict and compete. So it is with different social networks. Some are natural fits, enhancing each other and creating synergy. Others are so vastly different in scope and purpose that using them together can actually weaken the total effort.

So how do you know which networks jive well together, and which just don’t? Well, I reached out to several brilliant professionals whose experiences in social media give them a unique perspective on which networks work great together. They are, for all intents and purposes, Social Media Sommeliers, pairing different networks together to create an experience greater than the sum of its parts. So, what networks do they believe hold the greatest power for synergy?

Here’s what Ric Dragon http://twitter.com/ricdragon had to say:

image“I’m of the mind that the Twitter/G+ combo is killer.  G+ is more open than FB, and it’s easier to share blog-type posts publicly. Twitter, of course, is the place for garnering those weak-link connections – those people with whom you share an affinity. So Twitter makes the connection, and G+ allows you to share deeper content with those new connections.”

Smart stuff, to be sure. And after speaking with multiple other professionals, and with so many different networks out there to choose from, it became quite clear that everyone would have a different approach tailored to their individual style, fitting with their unique approach to their industry.

I asked this extremely savvy group of Marketing/PR/Social pros to look at this concept from two different angles:

1) Which two social networks do you feel are most complementary, and why?



2) Which two social networks do you feel have the biggest disconnect, and why?

Here’s what they had to say:

Mark Schaeferhttp://twitter.com/markwschaefer
image“The biggest synergy that I see is between Blogging and Twitter. Building a Twitter audience is an effective way to build an audience for your blog. A tweet is like the movie trailer for the movie! They fit like a hand in a glove.

As I see it, the biggest disconnect in social networks right now is between Google + and everything else. Google is not making the sharing easy so it is probably the least integrated network.”

Peg Fitzpatrickhttp://twitter.com/pegfitzpatrick
image“I feel that Google+ and Pinterest are a powerful combination. They are both very visual networks with savvy users. Photographers are really killing it on both platforms such as Trey Ratcliff, with 4.5 million Google+ followers and 4.7 million followers on Pinterest, that’s an enviable social media network! Google+ and Pinterest, more than other platforms, really reward their power users with engagement and activity with their content. You can save your Google+ posts on Pinterest boards or find interesting things to post on Google+ from Pinterest. Both platforms support hashtag usage and using keywords is a benefit.  Google+ and Pinterest complement each other and add mutual value without distracting or overwhelming the other.

I feel like LinkedIn and every other network are disconnected. LinkedIn doesn’t seem to fit naturally with any of the other networks although they have taken strides towards improvement. The endorsement feature made LinkedIn spammy to me and weakened the recommendations, which I felt was their most valuable asset. I feel that LinkedIn has its place for job seekers and networking but I don’t see how it blends with Pinterest, Facebook or any other site. I think that this was their intention but they shot themselves in the foot with that plan. You need to have a presence on more than one social media platform so if you are on multiple platforms, you’d like to work them seamlessly together.”

Don Powerhttp://twitter.com/donpower
image“LinkedIn and Twitter work beautifully together for me. I use LinkedIn to get comprehensive background info and details about individuals and their histories and companies before connecting with them on Twitter. Or, you may be connected with a person at Company X on Twitter – you can use LinkedIn to find more people at Company X to connect with (including their Twitter backgrounds). I use them in tandem quite a bit but for me – all roads ultimately lead to Twitter – if I make a connection on LinkedIn, I’m always suggesting that we continue the conversation on Twitter.

Facebook and Twitter – two almost completely exclusive sets of users (in my opinion and personal experience). For example, almost all of my high school friends are on Facebook (I graduated high school in ‘86) but NONE of them are on Twitter. Most of the people I’m connected with on Facebook are not active on Twitter. I only use Facebook to respond to people who find me or reach out to me there. I don’t start conversations on Facebook and 99.9% of my posts on Facebook (unless I’m responding to a specific tagged post) are simply copies of what I post to Twitter (and no – I don’t care that my Facebook posts are often marked up with @ symbols and hashtags)

As I see it, albeit an oversimplification, Facebook is made up of 90% of the people who want to be social 90% of the time. Twitter is made up of 90% of social people who want to do social business communication (in a no sales-y way) 90% of the time. Facebook is 90% wasting time and sharing crap, Twitter is 90% time connecting with people and building networks where the underlying assumption is – how might I be able to leverage this connection, now or in the future, for a business purpose? Because those networks have two completely different modus operandi, they are a total disconnect for me.”

Susie Parkerhttp://twitter.com/susie_parker
image“I often see how well Facebook and YouTube can work well together. Facebook being the largest social network and YouTube being the second largest search engine makes it easy to share a powerful, compelling, funny, or moving video with a large network of people with one click.

There is so much potential with Foursquare and Twitter. But there is too much disconnect and not enough businesses have claimed their locations to maximize the benefit to their businesses. When sharing where you are on Foursquare it would be great to have better Twitter integration to connect better with a potential new place to experience.”

David Christopherhttp://twitter.com/davidchris
image“Twitter I find great as a tool to build new relationships and to start conversations that continue on other platforms. It also allows you to connect with your network and keep those important relationships alive in just 140 characters when in today’s busy business world you don’t have time for much more.

Google+ for is the opposite. It’s where conversations continue and evolve (especially with the recent release of Google+ Communities) and for those where the need for much deeper level relationships are important. What I find interesting is that of the Twitter users in my network, very few of them use Google+. For this reason I find they complement each other as they don’t compete against each other for market share.

As for networks that have major disconnects, I’m going to give you a response that maybe you weren’t expecting here. External Social Networks and Enterprise Social Networks. There is a big disconnect between the Enterprise Social Network (behind the firewall) and the External Social Network (beyond the firewall). This isn’t a technology response, but a cultural response. Employees are your companies Brand ambassadors and should be leveraged as such but fear of what they might say prevents this. This is creating a disconnect in consistent messaging and preventing engagement opportunities with your customers.”

Sam Fiorella – http://twitter.com/samfiorella
image“Google+ and YouTube are natural partners and work together for the brand’s benefit on many levels. Google+ Hangouts upload directly to a YouTube channel for one-click cross-network sharing. Further, with Google Authorship, the combo packs a great SEO/SEM punch. There’s little-to-no expertise required to create conversational videos with customers, vendors, the  media or others and best of all, the platforms are free!

When talking about disconnected networks, I believe those are Pinterest and YouTube. Each are successful in their own right and each is a visual medium. Pinterest is great at sharing with Facebook but doesn’t accept other forms of visual content from other networks well. I see great opportunities for individuals and business if Pinterest would allow the inclusion of videos onto their boards, it would make for a richer experience.”

As for me? I believe that Facebook and Instagram are a very powerful combination. The ease with which you can insert creative, timely images in to your Facebook timeline, and the ease with which users can interact, share, and comment on this activity make them a natural fit for both personal use and for showcasing the personality of a brand.

Where I fail to see much synergy is between Pinterest and Twitter. Much in the same way that the absence of Instagram image support within Twitter has hurt the synergy between them, I feel that it is a crucial missing element that Pinterest should be working towards achieving. Being able to see a pin from within Twitter without the need to click would add a lot of utility, enabling users to view and re-share Tweeted content from Pinterest in one step instead of multiple steps in two different apps.

As you can clearly see, there is no definitive, all-encompassing answer to the question, which appears to be the general nature of social media to begin with. Everyone does it differently, and that’s ok. Ultimately it comes down to your personal ‘taste’ when choosing the social networks that work best for you.

What do you think? Are there two networks that consistently create business magic for you? Or are there two that don’t jive for you at all? Let’s hear!

SEO Poison: What you get when you hire a link farmer

by Jonathan Barrick

Ever get a phone call from someone claiming to be from XYZ Digital Web Services who’s been researching your company’s website on Google and noticed that it isn’t on page 1 for important keywords? Then they’ll kindly tell you that they can help get you ranked on the first page of all major search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo. Sounds like a pretty sweet deal, right? After all, it’s a lot of work to get on page 1 of Google. You’re competing with all the really big sites for those top spots, and it’s a real tough fight!

There’s just one problem: They get you there by flooding the internet with garbage. It’s called ‘Black Hat SEO’, and it is the scourge of internet marketers worldwide. It relies entirely on exploiting search engine algorithms for their loopholes and selling these tricks as legitimate services to unsuspecting companies.

For example, let’s look at one of the most common exploits employed by these scammers: Backlinks. Most seasoned SEO pros will tell you of the importance of backlinks. These are links found on other sites that point back to yours. In a nutshell, the more backlinks you have, the better. The quality of those backlinks is the second half of the equation. Backlinks to your site that are found on popular, relevant websites are worth far more in the eyes of search engines than those found on sites that have nothing to do with your company or industry.

However, these SEO magicians that claim to boost you to page 1 on Google simply ignore the ‘quality’ side of the equation and just go after ‘quantity’. They employ their armies to scour the internet for any blog or website that allows comments to be posted, and randomly post gibberish text containing links to your site. These poor victim sites and blogs end up with junk comments piling up on their posts, with little else they can do but manually delete each one. Often times they slip by unnoticed, perpetuating the problem for everyone.

There are a few telltale signs that comments are being posted by a link farmer. Often riddled with horrifying grammar and spelling mistakes, within each comment there will inevitably be a backlink embedded in to the text of the comment so that it doesn’t immediately get caught at a glance. You actually need to read it to be sure of what it is. Once you do, you’ll notice how completely irrelevant they are to the content of the original post.

Fortunately, Google and other search engines aren’t just sitting on their hands. They don’t want their systems gamed any more than we do, so they’re constantly tweaking their algorithms to close loopholes and make results increasingly more ‘real’ based on what you’re looking for.

Often times what happens with companies who fall victim to link farmers and Black Hat SEO will notice a massive drop in their rankings whenever Google releases a new major update to their algorithms. This is because whenever those exploits and loopholes get closed, Google slams the door really hard on sites that have been gaming the system.

Here’s the thing about SEO: No matter what detailed changes occur in their algorithms, search engines will always reward websites that:

  1. Have quality content
  2. Are updated regularly
  3. Are linked and backlinked with relevant partners

If you cover those three bases, then you shouldn’t see any drastic swings when an SEO update occurs. There’s no magic bullet for SEO. It’s a long term investment, and rewards those who focus on quality, above all else. So the next time you get a call from someone promising magical SEO results guaranteed to push you to #1 – Politely say “Thanks, but no thanks”.

But we can each do our part to help minimize the problem:

  • Delete any comments like these that find their way on to your site or blog.
  • Don’t hire any company making lofty promises about page 1 rankings.
  • Spread the word to colleagues to they don’t fall victim either.
  • Focus your site content on quality, and release new material as regularly as you can.

Black Hat SEO and link farming sucks for everyone. Customers hate it because there’s no guarantee that the companies on page 1 of Google actually deserve to be there. Companies hate it because even if they are the most relevant company for the keywords, they can be bumped down on the list of results because of sites who game the system. Unsuspecting companies who do hire link farmers take a major reputation hit when they get found out, and when algorithm changes cause their rankings to plummet. It’s just bad news all around. I hope this post sheds a bit of light on how link farmers operate, and why you should avoid it like the plague. If this post saves at least one good company from getting involved with the ‘bad crowd’, it’ll all be worth it.

This article originally written for http://crowdshifter.com

Share of Search – How much interest are you capturing?

by Jonathan Barrickimage

Web metrics are in a constant state of evolution. As we gain access to more and more raw data and behavioural reports through tools like Google Analytics, the necessity of using more effective metrics rises to put all that data in to some kind of useful context so that we can truly understand what the information is really telling us about our business and markets.

One of the most powerful metrics that I’ve been experimenting with more frequently lately is what Google Analytics wizard Avinash Kaushik refers to as ‘Share of Search’ (number 6 on his list of key metrics). In simplest terms, ‘Share of Search’ can be defined as the portion of overall online interest in a particular keyword that you are capturing. That is to say, if there are 100 searches every day for your product category, how many would your site receive? 10%? 20%? 50%?

If your ability to be found online is important to you, then taking a look at what your current estimated share of search is, and making changes to potentially improve this metric, could have dramatic effects on how you approach your online activities. Fortunately, this is a relatively simple metric to calculate, requiring only a few points of data which are easily obtained.

Here’s how simple the formula is:

Your monthly search referral traffic for a specific keyword or phrase / Google’s average monthly searches for that specific keyword or phrase x 100 = Your estimated % share of search.

You can easily obtain your sites monthly search referrals for specific keywords or phrases from your Google Analytics dashboard. To get the average overall searches for that phrase or keyword through Google, you can use the Google Keyword Tool. Simply make sure that you’re comparing apples to apples by setting the same criteria and restrictions in both tools (country/region, keyword vs. phrase, etc).
image

Once you’ve obtained your estimated Share of Search, you can begin to monitor it for changes. As your share of search rises, you should try to determine what factors this might correlate to. Did you do a big advertising push? Is interest in your product seasonal? Did you publish strong new content such as blog posts or educational articles? Is there a trade show coming up?

If your share of search decreases, take a look at what might be causing it. Are competitors making big changes to their websites or publishing strong new content? Is your industry seeing an overall decline? Are your ads or marketing messages misaligned with market needs? Is your product becoming obsolete?

Continually monitoring your Share of Search allows you to keep tabs on how ‘findable’ your business is, and how effective your web properties are at capturing the interest of your potential customers. Remember: Search performance is all based on RELEVANCE. The more relevant your content, the more you should see your share of search increase. In theory, an increase in share of search should correlate to an increase in market share as well. Hence, by measuring changes to your share of search and comparing to changes in your market share, you can see if there are disconnects or misalignments in your content, marketing messages, and product offerings.

The real key to effective web metrics is CONTEXT. Simply looking at big numbers like page views and number of visitors doesn’t give you any insight in to how you compare to the rest of the world out there. By looking at more context-driven metrics like share of search, you can begin to understand how your actions impact your performance in the market.  However keep in mind that there is no one magic metric that answers all questions. Share of search is just one more gauge of performance for you to look at. There are many more, but hopefully the simplicity of share of search and the insight it can give you will inspire you to dig deeper in to your data and see the real story that it’s trying to tell you. Big numbers mean nothing. Big context is everything.

This article originally written for http://crowdshifter.com

My Review of the Google+ Reviews

Haven’t heard of Google+ yet? You’re either in a coma or on Mars.

It’s all over the traditional news media, blogs are writing about it constantly, and Twitter is being barraged by people talking about it, begging for invites, praising it’s awesomeness, tearing it apart for being crappy, or posting one of thousands of ‘reviews’ of the newest social network.

I’ve read dozens of reviews so far, most of which are carbon copies of each other. There are a small few that have some unique points by calling out some hidden features, or bringing to light some glaring bugs in the system, but for the most part they simply regurgitate the same four points:

1 – There’s no Farmville or Mafia Wars junk – YAY!

2 – Circles are awesome and stupid-easy to manage – YAY!

3 – The interface is clean and intuitive – YAY!

4 – It’s not ‘different enough’ from Facebook – Hmmm…

Ok, so now what? It’s about three weeks old. Do you really think that Twitter reached it’s state of awesomeness in three weeks? Did Facebook exist when it was launched in the same way it does now? Of course not. Every social network currently in widespread use has grown over YEARS, not weeks. Features have been added and removed, interfaces get redesigned, and things evolve. It’s not a teenager, tween, or even toddler. Google+ is a newborn.

Anyone claiming to ‘know’ that Google+ is either doomed to fail or destined for greatness is speculating just as much as those people claiming to know what the next iPhone will look like. It’s all speculation until it either succeeds or fails, and for that to happen, people need to try it, use it, and put it through the wringer. Does anyone honestly think we’ve reached the point in just a few short weeks that anyone anywhere can legitimately say if Google+ is a pass or fail? No way.

Google+ is just another social network, sure. But what will it be in a few years? Myspace probably dismissed Facebook as ‘not different enough’ from its own service to be any kind of real threat, and we all know how that turned out. When Gmail was introduced, it was ‘just another email service’. Hotmail and Yahoo had their own, and to your average user, how much different could it be? After all, it’s just email, right?

To use an obvious cliche: time will tell. As for me, I’ve got my Google+ account, I’ve got my circles going, and I’m using it how I want to use it. Which is really why they created it, isn’t it? If we all use it how we want to instead of how others tell us we should, then Google+ should evolve in to something great.

If you’re not on Google+ yet, and would like to give it a shot, shoot me a private message with your email address, and I’ll send an invite over. Just promise me that you won’t write a review of Google+ later!