SEO Rundown Sept. 23

Theo from Mountain Media here again for another episode of SEO Rundown. Today’s topics; Yelp or how I stopped worrying and learned to love other review aggregators, Google stops following its own webmaster practices briefly, and an update on P3.0.

How I learned to stop worrying and love other Review Aggregators

First off, Yelp, the recent Supreme Court ruling that Yelp has the right to make you pay for your positive reviews is a clear signal that you should be considering other review aggregators than the pay-for-play bully in the local review yard. While Yelp is the catch-all for reviews there are many other review websites out there that are gaining traction and show that Yelp isn’t the only major player when it comes to rep management and local SEO. If you are any sort of restaurant or hotel there is TripAdvisor, Urbanspoon, Google Places, Google+,Facebook, Twitter, Bing Local, and local town and city websites who love, love, love to showcase their local businesses. Which will give you a nice juicy backlink for SERPs local and organic.

I know, at this point you’re saying, “But Theo, I’m not a restaurant or a hotel, I have to use Yelp or else I won’t have any sort of human reviews.” To that I say, use Angie’s List in addition to the search engine products and social media sites I just listed, Angie’s List is a great spot to be on because all of the users are paid subscribers so you have a gated review community. While Yelp is getting front page SERPs, Angie’s List is close behind them and if there is a community shift away from Yelp, they will be forced to change their practices or go out of business. Also, Angie’s List is a great way to gain high-end leads for your business as they put you front and center within their search. Plus, it’s free for businesses. If you don’t want to go the Angie’s List route; Facebook is great for reviews and while you will have to deal with some spammy reviews, again, no anonymous reviews.

Google Black Hat for a Day, Update on Penguin 3.0

Next, while this isn’t really trending I did find it comedic and somewhat ironic, Google decided to go black hat for a day and started indexing its own search results. While it was a mistake and was quickly fixed it is funny that even the Great G sometimes makes mistakes in its robots.txt file. Speaking of the Big G, Google has released an update that Penguin 3.0 will most likely be run in 2014. What that means to me, is that they might be waiting until right before the holiday season to run it. Which means it could be a present in some stockings and coal in others, make sure it’s a present for you and your clients and run those link audits folks. I know I spoke about this last time, but this is the SEO boogeybird we are talking about. Make sure your backlinks are squeaky clean folks, if you have even a shadow of a doubt then Run. Those. Audits. If you are a business owner and need some help, give us a call over at Mountain Media, we are here to help you.

Well that’s it for this week folks, as last time, if you liked what you saw, subscribe to our YouTube Channel, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

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SEO Rundown – Sept. 5

Hey All,

This is Theo from Mountain Media and this is your Friday SEO Rundown. Every other Friday I’ll be going through some of the big trending issues in SEO and giving each of them a brief moment in the sun.

Penguin 3.0 are you ready?

Chuck Price over at SEW recently posted an article detailing what is going to be going on with P 3.0 but let me give you the long and short of it. Currently, everyone who has gone through a link audit and meticulously picked out every spammy link the reward has been next to zero. Mainly due to the fact that Penguin is a separate algorithm that isn’t part of the normal algorithm updates. But, don’t worry, after P 3.0 is run you should see a jump in SERPs. For those of you who haven’t cleaned out your links yet or are worried that you might have spammy links, now is the time to do it before the hammer drops. Get it done, because Google might not wait until Matt Cutts gets back from vacation before they run it and if you’re caught with anything remotely spammy, you might have to wait 10+ months again before the next iteration of Penguin.

HTTPS URLs Have no Ranking Benefit…Yet

As you all know, Google announced that it would provide a small ranking boost to HTTPS/SSL sites due to their new HTTPS ranking factor. Search Metric recently released a study showing that moving your site over to HTTPS has not given any sort of boost to SERPs. Marcus Tober over at Search Metric was quoted as saying:

“In a nutshell: No relationships have been discernible to date from the data analyzed by us between HTTPS and ranking nor are there any differences between HTTP and HTTPS. In my opinon therefore, Google has not yet rolled out this ranking factor – and/or this factor only affects such a small section of the index to date that it was not possible to identify it with our data.”

In my opinion, I agree with Mr. Tober, while Google did say it is a small boost, even a small boost to your SERPs is noticeable. The most likely thing is that Google is probably going to roll out the ranking after they run P3.0. Well that’s it for this week’s SEO rundown, if you enjoyed please subscribe to our YouTube Channel, and make sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or G+. Thanks and we’ll see you next time for our next SEO rundown.

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The Basics of Google Authorship Markup

With another impending Google update seemingly just around the corner, Internet marketers worldwide are now scrambling to see if they can’t figure out what the “next big thing” in SEO will be. It seems to most web professionals that Google is working to maximize their own social media platform use by incorporating Google Authorship signals into its algorithm when determining search engine rankings. So, what does this mean for small businesses, bloggers and webbies alike? It means we better get familiar with Google Authorship, and we better get familiar with it now.

What is Google Authorship?

Google Authorship is basically Google’s way of making their social media platform more significant to search engine results than any other social platform. It’s also a way for Google to identify “authors” with authority. What Google Authorship does is identifies an actual human being associated with a page or blog post on a website. And since Google loves humans and users, of course this is going to quickly become a major factor in signaling a “good” page to Google. The fact is, if a real person is associated with a page in cyberspace, it’s likely to be more reliable than a page without the author linking, as those pages might as well be run by robots as far as the search engines are concerned.

So in a digital world of user-friendliness, it actually makes a lot of sense that Google’s next update would put a shift in focus much heavier on the actual users themselves. Visitors to websites want to see content and read words written by humans. Google Authorship is Google’s way of identifying those pages that comply with this idea.

How do you implement Google Authorship?

There are a few basic steps to follow to make sure you implement Google Authorship markup correctly. First, you need to decide where you’ll be implementing the authorship markup – will it go on a page of your website or on a post on your blog? Using Authorship markup on a blog is probably the easiest way to start, as it will identify the actual author of each and every blog post and put more trust in that post when it appears in search engines. Each author who writes for your blog should have their own Google+ account, complete with a photo of themselves that’s simple and professional (the photo itself will actually show up in search results if the markup is implemented correctly).

If you’re going to associate Authorship with a page of your website, you need to choose someone to be the “face” of your company, or choose a photo that reflects your brand. This person (don’t use a company page – I’ll explain why in a moment) should have a Google+ page that they are comfortable associating with your entire website.

The next step is to link the Google+ profile of your author to your actual blog or website. This part is easy – just log in to your Google+ account and click through to your “About” section. There should be a box labeled “Links” that gives you an opportunity to link to other profiles of yours, websites that you own or pages that you contribute to. Click “Edit” in this box.

You’ll want to focus on the “Contributor to” section of the next edit screen. If you’re an author for a blog, just enter the blog’s name and its URL path.

Save changes, and your Google+ profile is now linked to the blog for which you are an author.

Implementing Authorship Markup

The next step gets a big technical, and that’s why I thought it would be important to outline it in an easy way to understand. Now that your Google+ profile is connected to the site to which you are contributing, it’s time to add Authorship markup to the post itself that you’re linking your author profile to.

It’s easy on most blogs – all you have to do is include a link to your Google+ page at the end of your blog post. Here at Mountain Media, we like to add a little line at the bottom of each of our blog posts that simply says “Connect with [author name] on Google+!” Of course, you could get more creative or more in depth by adding links to your other social profiles (namely Facebook and Twitter), as well, but we like to keep things simple.

In order to add the Authorship markup to this statement, you need to switch to the HTML editor of your content management system for your blog and enter the following code:

Except instead of using the link that’s in this image, insert the link to your Google+ profile that’s connected to your blog. Change it to your name and you’re all set. This is called a <rel=”author”> tag, as it’s simply an HTML link that contains a tiny bit of additional markup to signify that the author of the post is also on Google+.

The Result

After you’ve linked your Google+ profile to the page you’re contributing to and you’ve implemented your rel=”author” tag, here’s what a standard search result for which your blog post is found will look like:

That’s considered a rich snippet search result, and it might soon become the most important type of rich snippet result you can implement yourself with the next Google algorithm update. It shows that I’m the author associated with that particular post, which signifies to Google that the post is trustworthy and truly written by a human.

Additional Things to Remember

While this is considered Authorship in its most standard and basic form, there’s a lot more to it than just linking your Google+ page to your blog or website. For starters, the more Author Rank you can build, the more trustworthy the posts with which you are associated will become. That means that if people +1 your posts, share your posts and interact with your Google+ page on a regular basis, your Author Rank will improve. Make sure you stay an active user on Google+ if you want to improve your Author Rank.

Additionally, Google doesn’t exactly allow you to link a brand to a blog post or web page as easily as they allow you to link a person. In order to link a business Google+ page to a post or page, you’ll have to implement a <rel=”publisher”> tag, which, at the moment, isn’t quite as powerful as a <rel=”author”> tag. Remember, Google likes people. So, if you wish to associate your brand page with your website, just remember to use <rel=”publisher”>, but for a more powerful “human” link, try to choose an individual person to represent your company that will link their own personal page to your blog or website.

If you’re implementing <rel=”author”> on a blog, make sure each author, or contributor, to the blog has their own author page. With WordPress blogs, this is easily accomplished and simply requires each author to have their own unique login information to the blog. That way, when each author’s posts appear on the blog, if you click on their name in the byline, you’re directed to a page of posts authored by that contributor only. This helps Google distinguish between authors on your blog and helps strengthen the link between your authors’ Google+ pages and your blog.

So fear not the impending Google algorithm change! Just be sure to be aware of and familiar with Google Authorship, what it means and what it does. We’re still conducting research into the topic here at Mountain Media, and we have to say, the best way to learn something new such as this is to just try it. See how it works. Then research a bit more and tweak your approach from there.

This should help you get started using Google Authorship linking and markup, so pick a page on your website or a post on your blog and get started experimenting before the next Google algorithm hits!

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Why Content is Still King For Ecommerce Sites

Here at Mountain Media, we often get asked the question: How can I make a website that people can enjoy and that ranks well in search engines? While the question is great, the answer is rather complicated.

As of late, Google has made changes to its algorithm to ensure quality websites outrank inferior websites. Through two Panda refreshers and one Penguin update, Google has made it easier to pinpoint and penalize those who create poor content by using keyword stuffing and unnatural language. At first, these updates left website owners at risk for big penalties including lowered rankings or being dropped altogether in Google’s search index. In turn, these websites risk a serious and costly drop in web traffic. For an ecommerce website, this can be extremely detrimental. These updates, as well as the inevitable future updates to search engine algorithms, are dramatically changing the role of SEO. While keywords are still important to a website, great content must be written for the benefit of the readers.

Now, back to the original question, the key to having a website that people can enjoy and that ranks well in search engines can be found in the Google guidelines. According to Google’s Webmaster guidelines, one should “create a useful, information-rich site, and write pages that clearly and accurately describe your content.” A useful website provides value or somehow benefits its visitors. It also includes information that cannot be found elsewhere on the Internet. Following these guidelines will help Google to find, index and rank your website. The challenging part is developing useful and interesting content. Now why is content important again?

Content attracts visitors

Unique content is important because it attracts visitor attention and builds interest in your website. Research shows that people are more likely to purchase products from a website that produces custom content. Where can you get unique content? Ask your boss! Business owners have a wealth of information regarding their particular product, service or industry. Unfortunately, this information often stays in their heads. Instead, take that knowledge and turn it into valuable web content. Publishing this information makes it tangible and a great resource for customers. Now that you have provided unique content to get them there, the challenge becomes keeping visitors on your website. You can do this by including video, photos and witty content. If you can provide this to your visitors, they will be more likely to stick around [Read: 3 Places for Video Love on Your Website].

Search engines score content

Publishing new and relevant content on your website is a way to show search engine spiders that your website is not stagnate. For example, Google measures all of your documents for freshness, then scores each page according to the type of search query. Search engines like Google want to provide the best user experience possible. Therefore, the goal of any major search engine is to return the most relevant results to users. Take an honest look at your website and see what pages will benefit most from freshness. Then, be fresh, relevant and most importantly, be useful.

Powerful inbound links

If you can write something useful and portray yourself as a thought leader within your industry, you create the opportunity for people to start writing about you and even linking to your articles. Having links from other websites to yours is a crucial SEO tactic. First, search engine robots follow links between websites. Therefore, the more inbound links you have the more often robots will visit your site. Secondly, many search engines consider inbound links as “votes” for you. They assume that if a lot of websites are linking to you, your site must be of high quality. Also, inbound links can bring more traffic to your website, which means potential leads and conversions. Essentially, the better your content is the more powerful the inbound links will be.

Content is an investment

Keep in mind, content is an investment in your site. Unlike Internet advertising, content is an investment that keeps bringing new visitors year after year. And all good things require effort. Writing web content is a skill that takes both practice and patience. As I’ve mentioned above, content should be both useful and interesting. It should also be SEO-rich. A good rule of thumb when it comes to writing web content is to use a keyword density of 3-5 percent—just enough to attract some new attention without sounding too redundant and disengaging. If your skills are not up to par, you may want to consider hiring someone well trained in the art [Read: PR & SEO: A Match Made in Cyber Heaven].

As you can see, the Google updates were quite alarming to the SEO professional who has always used traditional SEO techniques, like keyword stuffing, to help clients move up in the rankings. While there is still a need for optimization, good content is very important. This may mean hiring copywriters or public relations professionals to develop content strategies that include useful article topics, interesting blog posts, and website pages that engage readers in the future!

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