Google Penguin 2.0: What the Future Looks Like For SEO

Penguin 2.0 is finally here! As Google’s latest attempt to combat spammy websites and black hat SEO tactics, this algorithmic update is said to be more comprehensive than the first Penguin update. However, unlike its Panda counterpart, Penguin 2.0 will focus primarily on backlink patterns, anchor text and poor link building practices.

According to Matt Cutts, websites that visitors naturally want to explore and share its content should not be negatively affected. Cutts urges that webmasters and practitioners of white hat SEO continue doing what they’re doing as Penguin 2.0 rolls out. However, with big algorithmic updates come big changes for SEO. Here’s what you can expect:

Content marketing is the new link building

As I mentioned back in April, content marketing has become the new buzz phrase in the SEO industry. And while some SEOs will argue that content marketing is no new SEO tactic, it certainly is the future. Gone are the days of free backlinks. Content marketing forces SEOs to earn quality backlinks through great content and social networking. Therefore, the future of SEO relies heavily on the ability to produce quality content as well as the promotion of this content. Content can be in the form of text, video, infographics, or whatever else you can produce and put on your site. For instance, video marketing is a perfect example of quality content and it’s extremely under utilized by small businesses.

Online PR thrives post-Penguin

PR professionals are used to generating organic search and referral traffic. Unlike traditional SEO tactics, online PR is about creating quality content for the media and blogs in order to drive traffic to a website. Press releases can build domain authority through the acquisition of backlinks from distribution services and more. The press release can also increase brand awareness, sales and thought leadership. In a post Penguin 2.0 world, traditional link building tactics will begin to fail and online PR will thrive. If you’re not already using online PR, you better get familiar.

Google will look into guest blogging

After Penguin 1.0, many SEOs turned to guest blogging as an alternative method for link building. Why? Because it’s very easy to add a link and anchor text to the bios below guest authored posts. As a result, there have been an overwhelming amount of links from guest blogging. And Google has begun to take notice. However, guest blogging has more potential than just link building. It can also be a great branding tool for any company or organization. As SEOs, we have to become more selective about the guest blogs we choose. We should always avoid blogs that have a low domain authority and ones that accept all guest posts. SEOs should also switch up author bios. Focus less on keywords and more on branded anchor text. When possible, include the author’s social profiles and their company website. This will allow Google to recognize a guest blog post as authentic. Lastly, publish content that is targeted and relevant to that particular audience and you will save yourself from the inevitable iron fist known as Google’s Search Quality team.

Long-tail keywords gain more search traffic

Long-tail keywords will become the new way to gain search traffic post-Penguin. Simply put, they are far less competitive than short-tail keywords and they are fairly easier to optimize on landing pages. With Penguin 2.0 forcing SEOs to focus on the customer rather than search engine rankings, long-tail keyword targeting is the key to meeting exactly what the customer is looking for. What’s more is that long-tail keywords produce highly relevant results, which can translate into high conversion rates for folks on the top of search engine results. Most importantly, the world has gone mobile. Think about how many people use iPhone’s Siri or Android’s Google Now for information. And when they talk into their phones they’re asking questions, not stating keywords. In essence, search is becoming conversational, which means SEOs need to start focusing more on long-tail keywords.

In conclusion, Penguin 2.0 is just another step in a positive direction. Rather than freaking out, embrace the chaos. Like every algorithmic update prior, Google stands by its core messages: create a website that users will love and write great content. If you can do that, Cutts assures us that Google will work hard to recognize it. Fear no more! SEO will always be a valuable tool to any business—that is, if it’s practiced correctly.

Share Button

The Rise of Web Marketing

In today’s whiteboard Friday segment by SEOmoz, Rand Fishkin talks about how SEOs can no longer just be SEOs anymore. Rand suggests, that as an industry, we broaden the definition of SEO by incorporating web marketing techniques like unique content, social media and branding into our daily practice. And I would have to agree. This is a hot topic in our industry right now, and something I felt the need to delve into a bit further.

Old School vs. New School SEO

As an Internet marketing agency, we’ve seen a lot of companies rely on SEOs to keep them at the top of search results. For ecommerce sites especially, it’s a constant struggle between the latest Google update and outperforming peers. As a result, some of our best clients have gotten hung up on old SEO tactics simply because they worked in the past. However, it’s our job as the professionals to tell these clients that buying links and keyword stuffing is no longer appropriate practice.

If you are considering hiring a SEO company to improve your search engine rankings and you plan to measure their worth solely on how high they get you in rankings, you may want to reconsider your short-term and long-term business goals. For example, a spike in search engine rankings is a short-term fix for any struggling website, but creating high-quality content and posting it regularly will ensure long-term SEO growth. Also, if a SEO company tells you that they have easy “tricks” to increase your rankings, don’t fall for it. Nothing compares to natural links and original content.

Focus on Creating Quality Content

Now, back tracking a bit, I mentioned in February that Google has made significant changes to its algorithm to ensure quality websites outrank their inferior counterparts. While keywords are still important, Google now rewards websites that create great content for the benefit of the reader. As SEOs, our objective should be to create better content, not climb the search engine rankings.

Utilize other sources of organic traffic

In addition to high-quality content, search engines also value other sources of organic traffic like social media, blogs, video, and email marketing. These sources can also drive substantial traffic to your website. More important, social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter have transformed into customer engagement platforms.

SEOs should become brand communicators by listening to customers and understanding what’s important to them. Customers today are bold enough to go directly to a Twitter handle or public forum to engage directly with a business. And they expect brands to communicate back. What SEOs can do is encourage customers to place reviews on social media and other websites. These reviews will serve as their public endorsement of a brand. When a customer shares your content through their social media profiles, they are providing quality inbound links to your website.

Leverage Your Online Authority

I’ve talked a lot about thought leadership as a powerful SEO tactic, so I won’t bore you with all the details. However, when a customer already trusts you they will come to you for professional advice. And one way you can do this is through content management.  Creating SEO-friendly and engaging content is the first step. If you sell all natural health products and you write a blog post about “5 Natural Ways to Heal Acne,” SEOs can ensure that when a consumer types “natural ways to heal acne” into the search field, your blog will show up in search results. Whether it’s through blogging or email marketing, the goal of content management is to get customers visiting your website.

Over the years there has been a lot of “black hat” or shady SEO practices, and search engines are starting to catch on. Regardless, SEO is still a valuable tool when building your business. Therefore, if you can do it the right way and take advantage of these web marketing techniques, you can naturally position yourself as an industry leader and the search engines will graciously reward you.

Share Button

Benefits of Using a Press Release

Back in January, I wrote about the benefits of working with public relations professionals. More specifically, how developing engaging, keyword-and-human-friendly content is the key to creating high-quality websites. I also briefly touched upon the press release as an effective SEO tactic.

Today, I am going to discuss the benefits of using a press release, in regards to your website and overall brand reputation. The purpose of writing and distributing a press release is to get your news in front of as many people as possible. An online press release distribution service is the quickest and easiest way to do this. The beauty of using a distribution service is that thousands of journalists have access to these services. And the media are always looking for new and interesting information that they can transform into a newsworthy story. Here are the benefits of using a press release:

Build Brand Awareness

A common goal of a press release is to promote your company, products and/or services to potential customers and influencers (bloggers and journalists) within your industry. A distributed press release can do exactly that. By developing newsworthy content and distributing it to the appropriate outlets, you can achieve your goal of getting your brand in front of the right audience. Likewise, you should engage your audience to ensure that people not only know about your brand but are also interested in it.

Increase Sales

In addition to building brand awareness, increasing sales is another goal of press release distribution. This tactic is particularly common among smaller businesses with limited budgets. Press releases that contain some type of free offer or incentive to the customer can generate serious business leads. You would be surprised how many people are willing to trade their contact information for free stuff. Even if just one lead turns into a hard sale, you will have achieved your goal.

Link Building and SEO Benefits

As a SEO specialist, I cannot forget the link building and SEO benefits of the press release. The mistake that many small businesses make is putting up a website and expecting people to find you without taking any steps to market the site. Well folks, let me let you in on a little secret: optimizing a press release is one of the easiest ways to market your website. The simple truth is that millions of people today use the Internet to get their news (myself included). By including high-quality and fully optimized links in your press release, you can build more backlinks and ultimately improve the search engine rankings of your website. Pretty awesome, right?

Position Yourself as a Thought Leader

As I mentioned in my most recent blog post, positioning yourself as a thought leader within your industry is another way to build powerful backlinks. Therefore, when writing your press release you want bloggers and journalists to consider you an industry expert. This can help you earn media coverage from influencers. It will also help you to build lasting relationships with bloggers and journalists. Plus, the more customers see you in the news, the more credible your business becomes. As you can see, the benefits of positioning yourself as a thought leader are actually three-fold.

To wrap things up, the benefits of using a press release are this: brand awareness, lead generation, SEO maximization and thought leadership. However, keep in mind that one press release is not going to solve all of your business goals and ambitions. The best way to get noticed is to create consistency by distributing well-written, SEO-friendly press releases on a regular basis. And when I say regular basis, I mean as often as something newsworthy occurs in your company be that events, promotions, awards, new products or services, and other accomplishments.

Share Button

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!

Share Button