SEOMOZ Video on Google Panda Update

Google Panda Update

Rand Fishkin at SEOMox posted this video yesterday on the Google Panda update.

After viewing the video, I have a few things that I’m not sure about. First, I think the idea that Google is going to find the content that best matches what their human reviewers like, I don’t think that the results have reached the SERPs (search engine result pages) for many terms. In performing SEO competitive analysis on sites, I’m still seeing that links matter more than content.

It may be that Google is addressing top markets first, but for local SEO, it’s still links that matter most.

Now, I’m a content evangelist and I want nothing more than content quality and relevance to be the top factors in ranking a website and its pages. I just don’t see that at this point. However, I believe that all else being equal, content quality as determined by the Panda update will push the better quality content to the higher ranking. So if two or more sites are equally search engine optimized, the quality of the content will determine the higher ranking page.

Wistia

I’m leaning toward this being a negative factor rather than a positive boost at this point. If your pages are scraped or copied, you are likely to loose points in the algorithmic scoring.  If your content consists of short blog posts, you will suffer. At this point, having better content is unlikely to beat solid link profiles. I know that Google wants the best quality for their searchers and will continue to work at it until they get to that point.

I will continue to build high quality relevant visitor and SEO content for my sites and my clients. But, I will continue building links to that content. This is the best approach in the present and is future-proofing your site. I don’t believe in scraped or copied content on my sites and have never suffered from a change in the Google Algorithm. I’ve benefited when competitor sites were impacted. I will keep building the best content with the time and money available.

On Page vs. Off Page SEO Factors

Ranking well in the Search Engines for most keywords used by small businesses is very achievable. There are many factors that go into search engine ranking formulas or algorithms, but they can be broken down into two broad categories – on page factors and off page factors.

On Page SEO Factors

You have complete control of the on page SEO factors and the search engines expect you to get it right. The primary on page factors are:

Page Title – Title Meta Tag
Page Description – Description Meta Tag
Keyword Meta Tag
Keyword Meta Tag
Content
Navigation
Linking
Site Information – including About, Privacy Statement, Contact Information
Keyword Density

No one knows for sure, but SEO gurus seem to agree that on page SEO factors account for less than 20% of your search engine ranking for a keyword / page combination. This could be completely missing the point because I believe that on page factors can hurt you more than help you. I’ll talk about all these factors over the coming weeks, but I see two big problems with on page factors on a lot of sites:

  • Poor Site Structure
  • Poor Quality Content and Design

Poor site structure comes down to poor interlinking between your pages. I see so many sites that don’t take advantage of the power of internal site links. These are yours to control and you should be linking to other pages on your site in every page and every post. This takes some planning to determine your major keywords that become your categories and then the keywords and pages that will support those categories.

Basically, within reason link (1 link per 100-125 words) to other pages on your site. There are a lot of reasons that I won’t go into here, but your pages should be at least 450 words with 3-4 links. If you go longer, no problem (and add another link or two). If your a little short, no problem. But, aim for about 450 words.

High quality content mean good for SEO and conversion. SEO should get the visitor to the page, but content keeps them there long enough to do what you want them to do. If they leave, it’s generally because the content and site design are poor, or, it’s not closely related enough to the search term. Ask yourself, for each page, why would a visitor come to this page and then answer the question with engaging content.

Off Page SEO

Links, links, links. Off page SEO is about links. If on page factors account for 20% or less of ranking factors, that means that off page links account for 80%. Wow! This is true if there is anyone seriously pursuing SEO in your market. It’s about where links come from and the anchor text of the link. Here is the hierarchy of links that I look for from best to worst:

  • High authority site, discussing my exact keyword phrase, using the exact keyword anchor text
  • High authority site related to my keyword, using my exact keyword anchor text
  • High authority site unrelated to my keyword, using my anchor text
  • High authority site with any link to my site

High authority sites are the mega-sites of the world and the mega sites within your niche. For instance, a link from CNN or MSNBC is very powerful, but a link from Realtor.com to a local real estate site is from a high authority site within that niche.

Now take the exact same keyword conditions for relevance and anchor text used above and apply them to following links in order:

  • Industry related site or blog
  • General Blog on Topic
  • Paid On Top Topic Directory (Yahoo, BOTW)
  • Ezine Articles
  • UAW Articles
  • General Blog Off Topic
  • Other Article Directories
  • Blog Comments
  • Low Level Links from forums, twitter, profiles, etc. (lots and lots)
  • Social Bookmarks
  • Reciprocal Links

The list is not complete. I’ll do that at another time and explain more about each one. The point is that you should have a lot of links from a lot of sources. The number will depend on the competition for a keyword phrase and could be anywhere from just a few internal links to thousands of external links. Most small businesses will not need thousands of links to compete locally. An entry in Google Places and a few hundred links to key pages will work for many small businesses. However, in businesses such as real estate, the competition is tougher. It took about 7,500 links to my main real estate site and over 700 internal pages to reach the number one ranking for my main keyword term in Google, Yahoo and Bing. In big markets, it will take more, in smaller markets less.

Don’t send all your external links to your home page with exactly the same anchor text. I shoot for 40% to the home page and 60% to internal pages. No one term should be any more than 40-50% of anchor text to any page. Internal links don’t need to follow these rules.

Build your links from the best source possible, but also make sure to get all the links you can from good places. Stay away from drugs, porn and spam sites. Get one-way links whenever possible. Keep link building even when you’ve reached number one for your terms.

Small Business SEO – Long-Tail Keyword Opportunities

Long-tail keywords get over half the keyword searches in Google and the other search engines. Here’s a classic example where no one seems to be paying attention to that fact.

What if you arrived at your vacation home on a Sunday morning only to find it infested with fleas? Who would you call? Well, in our real estate business, we often get calls from people asking for recommendations. We tried a few numbers for pest control companies we normally work with, but no one was answering. I then sat down in front of my computer and did a Google search on “emergency pest control daytona beach” (searched without the quotes).

Local Small Business SEO – Asleep At The Wheel

The results for the emergency pest control search show that long-tail keyword terms such as “emergency pest control daytona beach” are being ignored by small business marketers and most SEO companies. Looking at the results, I see that no one, not even the pages that are ranking, are targeting this keyword. Take a look at the results:

Emergency Pest Control SEO SERP

The first five SERP (Search Engine Result Page) results are shown from Google. Notice that of the five pages, only one page has an external link to it, the third listing. None of the top five sites have the search term in the title or in the URL. These sites are ranking because no one has optimized for the term “emergency pest control daytona beach.”

A quick way to find out if anyone is targeting a phrase is to check the title using the ALLINTITLE: command in Google. When I type in allintitle:emergency pest control daytona beach, we see zero results. A further check using the ALLINURL:emergency pest control daytona beach, shows zero results.

Is Long-Tail Keyword SEO Worth It?

If you attempt to find monthly keyword counts for our example keyword, you won’t find any. According to Google counts, there is zero traffic. On the other hand, half of all search queries show no traffic. I am amazed at the traffic I see on my websites for search queries that show no Google counts. Of 2,742 keywords that brought traffic to one of our real estate sites in May, 2,701 came from keywords with a count of less than 10. Over 1/2 of the traffic on this site is from long-tail keywords.

Back to our example. If you offer a service such as an emergency service, why keep it a secret? This is why blogs are so important. To rank for this keyword, here’s what you should do:

  1. Create a page or blog post with “Emergency Pest Control Your City” (or whatever your service is)
  2. Write about 300-400 words in the post. Mention “emergency pest control your city” 2-3 times. Talk about how solving your customers problem is important and describe the process. Tell them to call you now! They wouldn’t be looking if they weren’t in need.
  3. Make the page URL – emergency-pest-control-your-city.
  4. Make sure the page or post title, description and keyword meta data is targeted to your service. If your WordPress Theme doesn’t show a place for this meta data, install the All-In-One-SEO plugin and activate it.
  5. Publish the page or post
  6. Link from 5-10 of your internal pages/posts to this page
  7. Send 5-10 external links to the new page/post

For phrases like emergency pest control, where no competitor has optimized for SEO, you or your Daytona Beach SEO specialist should be able to get a first page ranking fast and a top ranking in a few months. If you don’t see that, add more external links.

Do this with 100 pages and your phone will be ringing. This is what small business SEO is about. Your traffic will come from hundreds of keywords, not one or two.

If these steps seem confusing to you, keep coming back to learn more. If you need help, call Michael at 386-295-2049.

SEO Ranking Formula – 3x5xSEO

SEO Ranking Formula Index Card

SEO Ranking Formula on a 3×5 Index Card

Is a picture worth a thousand words? Maybe. Is a picture worth higher search engine ranking? Yes!

This is the first index card published, but there will be many more. At least one a week. I’ve been using index cards and sticky notes for years to make things clearer for myself and clients. If an idea can be boiled down into a 3×5 card, it is much easier to understand.

SERP Rankings

Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) are the pages that display in Yahoo!, Bing and Google when you type in a search page. The Google SERP for San Diego Emergency Pest Control is shown below.

Google SERPs Page

The paid ads or PPC (pay per click)  ads are displayed as the top three results in the center column and along the right side. These are ads you must bid for to have them displayed for your page. It can be very expensive. What we are after are the natural or organic listings. These are the listings you don’t pay for and are the result of solid SEO strategies.

Pages x Links = Search Engine Rankings

Let’ expand the formula a bit.

Good quality relevant pages x good quality relevant links = search engine rankings

Google grants “authority” to good content pages and good quality relevant links (or votes) is how these pages gain authority. When a site has many, sometimes thousands of authority pages, it becomes an authority site – think CNN or ESPN.  You want your pages to become authority pages. To do that you make sure your content is high quality and links into that page are from the highest authority pages possible.

Look at the left side of the formula above. Good quality relevant pages could be from your site or from another web property that you don’t own. From your own site, think about where you might sell blue widgets, red widgets and green widgets. You have multiple pages on your site about these widgets. Each of those pages should link to each other and to any new widgets page you create. That is the first source of links – your own internal links from your relevant pages.

After you make sure you are linking from your relevant internal pages, find the highest authority external pages to get links. It’s probably not going to be CNN, but it could be a link from another widget site, a widget industry directory and so on. These should be your first choice. You can also create Hub Pages, Squidoo Pages and other content sites. These sites are consider authority sites by search engines. We’ll talk more about content sites later. Create these sites and then link to the relevant pages on your site.

Writing articles targeted to the same content as your specific pages will be enough to rank on the first page, or even number one for low competition keyword phrases.

Ranking Formula Strategy

If you have a blog, you can create more pages on your site easily and quickly. That should be a big part of your strategy. Each of those blog posts is a page and a link from that page will help other pages. Don’t say the same thing over and over. Vary the content so that it is unique within your site. Building more pages is critical because it’s self-reinforcing. As your pages and site gain authority, it raises your site’s power to rank for existing and new search terms.

Build links to all your site pages. Articles, Authority Sites, Guest Blog Posts, Blog Commenting and many other techniques are available. Video sites such as YouTube and Viddler can also be useful in building links. Links will also come to you if you create great content that others remark on. We’ll cover more on link building later, but understand for now that links are critical to your site’s rankings.

I see linking, both internally and externally, as the biggest weakness of most small business sites that are not ranking well for their targeted keywords.

Summary

There you have it. Create lots of unique targeted relevant pages. Link to those pages from other pages on your site and build external links from other sites. Do this and you’ll see great results.

If Do It Yourself SEO is not in your plans, or you need some basic consulting or training, just give Michael a call at 386-295-2049 or go to the contact page to send a message by email.

SEO Tips – What is The Purpose of Your Website?

SEO Tips Image

What Do You Want Your Website to Do?

The purpose of your website is _________? The purpose of my real estate website is lead generation. Everything I do on that site is designed to engage the visitor to eventually call, send an email or register to save property searches.

Different sites have different purposes, but unless you clearly and specifically articulate that purpose, much of your website and SEO efforts will be wasted. You may hear the question asked, how well does your site convert?

Conversion is basically getting visitors to take the action you have defined. It can be lead generation, product sales, customer service support, information for clients, list building and more.

The SEO Foundation

Many factors go into driving traffic to your website, but if you haven’t defined your ideal customer(s) and what you want them to do, who are you creating the site for? The foundation of SEO is targeting traffic. That’s what keyword selection, competitive analysis, link building and site design lead you to in the end. Targeted Traffic is targeting the buyers, subscribers or other customer most likely to buy your offerings.

This is a big part of the problem of throwing your website design and SEO efforts over the fence. By that I mean handing it off to someone else without giving them the proper specifications for what you required. Just build me a website or just get me traffic will not be enough in way too many cases.

Who Knows Your Business Best?

Do you believe there is another person in the world who knows your business better than you? Do they know your customer better? You know why your customers come to your business. You know if you have one ideal customer type or ten.

It’s extremely rare that an outside party will know enough about your business to design a great website and bring the most targeted traffic without your guidance. You must demand that your website brings you more of what makes your business successful.

State Your Purpose

To be effective, state your purpose. State the purpose of your website, first to yourself and then to anyone who touches the design, technical aspects or SEO. The purpose of the website your visiting now is to help business owners and managers improve business results through internet marketing and SEO. My ideal client knows their business well and wants to know how internet marketing can improve results.

I’m an owner of multiple businesses. I rely on internet marketing almost exclusively in several businesses and not at all in one business. There is no one size fits all for web marketing and SEO. Knowing the purpose of your site can can you tons of money.

Contact Mike at 386-295-2049 for more information or to discuss your options. I’m a Daytona Beach SEO specialist, but I serve clients regardless of where they’re located.

Content for SEO

SEO Tips Image

Content for SEO – The Cornerstone of Your Marketing

 

SEO Content Book and Tea Image

Site design, site structure, links and content determine your traffic, but your content determines whether people stay long enough to respond to your call to action. SEO success without conversion success is largely a waste of time and effort.

Conversion is the action target for the page or post. The action target is what you want people to do. In real estate, a phone call is the desired action. To lead to that action, the phone number must be prominently displayed. Often, mentioning it again at the end of the page or post will reinforce the desired action. Asking open ended questions in the content can lead to the reader picking up the phone and making the call.

Other forms are conversion are capturing an email address through a form, registration for the use of site services, visits to a store or restaurant.

The point of the content is to inform the visitor, but also to lead them to your desired action.

Why Search Engine Optimization?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the fuel for you website. Imagine having your Ferrari sitting in your garage. You have it, but no one knows it. You need fuel to drive it around town so people know. It’s the same with your website. You may have the greatest information, the best products, the best deals – but if no one knows, they won’t visit.