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Archive for the ‘Search Engine Marketing News’ Category

Is Guest Blogging Dead?

There’s a lot of talk lately about guest blogging being a thing of the past. Rand Fishkin advised folks to make sure their guest blogging efforts were legitimate in a recent Whiteboard Friday. He warned of the slippery slope that can take guest blogging from building your network to spamming. Google’s SEO guru Matt Cutts went even further, saying “…stick a fork in it: guest blogging is done; it’s just gotten too spammy.”

Are these two correct that there is cause for concern? Absolutely. There is no shortage of examples of spammy link-building arrangements under the guise of guest blogging. Many websites out there charge you a fee to feature your guest blog post. Depending on the site, these posts can cost hundreds of dollars. Sometimes there isn’t a monetary price, but there is a required reciprocal link. This you-scratch-my-back-I’ll-scratch-yours strategy values page rank over the customer. If you’re really committed to improving your SERP ranking, you’ll want to stick with the old adage “content is king.” The main thing that can help your SEO strategy is to create and provide valuable content to users. Your content’s value is shown by how many people read it. So if your company has valuable blog posts that people want to read, you’ll be serving your company well. A great blog post will find readers. And there’s no reason your great blog post can’t be featured on another site.

Fishkin and Cutts both remark that there are high-quality, legitimate guest blog posts. It’s great to share useful information with an appropriate, interested audience. But guest blogging for the sake of getting links is no longer a good idea. Google will soon target black hat SEO link-building strategies like writing empty guest posts for spammy websites. Before long, links from such sites will begin hurting your rankings. Likewise, hosting valueless guest blog posts can also hurt you. When it comes to links, focus on quality not quantity.

The Difference in SEO in 2014

You know what will be the biggest SEO trend in 2014?

Integrity.

At this point, it’s unavoidable. If you want your site to rank well, you’ll need integrity.

Recent changes to Google’s algorithm like Penguin, Panda and Hummingbird have put a premium on providing useful content to users in honest ways. You can no longer sneak a useless site to the top of the SERPs with keyword stuffing and link schemes. Gone are the days of black-hat SEO, and it’s about time.

Remember how obnoxious it was to see a site rank higher than yours because someone used black-hat techniques? Ever get annoyed when someone disparaged the SEO industry as a whole because of a few bad apples? Thanks to the recent algorithm changes, there are new restrictions to prevent shady tactics.

Some view the restrictions negatively. The many changes have made some of the easy (black-hat) techniques not only ineffectual but damaging to SERP rankings. But there’s a positive way to look at it. With shady tactics now proving harmful to search rankings, there is no reason to spend your time and energy employing them. And having that extra time and energy is good, because ranking higher in SERPs now requires more work and thoughtfulness than ever before.

As search engines get better at delivering what customers want, websites will have to get better at providing the valuable content that gets delivered. This means you can’t get away with keyword stuffing or link schemes to artificially boost your site’s rankings. Now that cheap tricks won’t help rankings, the true cream will rise to the top. And if you want to be at the top, you need to provide valuable content that customers want. It’s that simple.

There are no more tricks, and for that we should be grateful. With such frivolous distractions eliminated by Google’s updates, we can now focus on the hard work of providing quality content to our customers.

Having reflected on and reacted to the major industry updates of the past years, let’s look forward to 2014: when hard work and integrity will yield superior results.

Updating SEO for Google Hummingbird

Another shake-up in the SEO world. Google recently released a new search engine algorithm called Hummingbird. This update has affected 90% of searches and focuses on conversational queries rather than keyword based queries. Hummingbird indexes websites based on how thoroughly they answer the searcher’s intent. Because of technologies like Siri and voice command, conversational search has become much more commonplace. For example, searches like “Mona Lisa location” and “Mexican restaurant Chicago” are being replaced by searches like “Where can I find the Mona Lisa?” and “Where is there a Mexican restaurant close to me?”

There are a few ways websites can update with Hummingbird in mind.

Optimize for Conversational Queries – Hummingbird reads searches and displays results based on the main intent of the query

  1. Throughout pages in the website, use conversational language when it is natural
  2. Use keywords that sum up longer search terms
  3. Create a variety of pages to optimize for different query types
    • informational page with informal language
    • A navigational page with keyword-rich messages
    • FAQ or Question and Answer Page with important terms or phrases used in questions.

Optimize for Synonyms – Hummingbird looks for not only keywords but also their synonyms found on the page

  1. Add additional keywords that often occur in similar contexts as the information on your page
  2. Look at the suggestions on Google Webmaster Tools for additional keyword and synonym ideas
  3. Go on to Google’s search engine bar and take note of the suggested queries
  4. Become an Expert in Your Niche
    • Apply for business list rankings on sites like “The Best of…”, “Top 20….”
    • Do competitor research to see which sites your competitors are listed on and then reach out to those editors
    • Examine your competitor’s backlink profiles to find more citation sources.
  5. Update Your Anchor Text Strategy
    • Go through each of your pages anchor texts
    • Change all of the keyword-driven anchor texts to meaningful and significant phrases

Like pictures? We found this infographic from our friends at Search Engine Journal.

Evolving Interactive Guest Blog Post: SEO and Social Media: Working Together, Working For You

Social media has become an important part of pretty much all businesses, including traditional brick and mortar businesses and online businesses. However, social media has become increasingly important for people that work in SEO, since social media is being used differently by many companies to find their target audience.

Individuals that work in SEO have also seen major changes that have likely affected the way that they work, giving them even more incentive to utilize social media as an outlet for creating and getting work.

Google Algorithm Updates

Google Panda and subsequent updates have had a major impact on people that work in SEO. Recent changes to Google Penguin and Panda have been put in place to penalize companies and individuals that produce fast, low-quality content just to fit in keywords that are popular in searches and on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Many major sites labeled as content mills – sites that employed writers to write on a variety of topics based on a particular keyword – were penalized the most. However, these algorithm updates also affected bloggers and people that make their living doing SEO work for private companies.

Local SEO

Local SEO has become more and more important since Google changed its algorithm, and it has become very popular with many businesses because it allows them to find only clients or customers in their area that fit their criteria. That means more focused marketing, which can result in more business at a reduced cost for many businesses. Many businesses use SEO writers to create local content for their Facebook, Twitter or Google+ pages to help them attract clients.

While writing for social media isn’t that much different than writing for a blog, understanding what works best on sites like Facebook and Twitter – which has a letter counter restriction – can help you do your best work.

Social Media Affects Ranking

After Google algorithm changes, social media rankings have become more and more important to businesses and writers that use SEO to drive traffic to their blog or website. This is because Google put more importance on organic links and mentions of a certain keyword or brand than on many other websites. The more people are talking about your product or business on social media sites like Google+ and Facebook, the higher your ranking will be. That’s why writing for social media sites has become so popular among SEO content producers.

Social media numbers should also be viewed in conjunction with more traditional page rankings and backlinks.

Apps Are Your Friend

Apps designed to help you create quality posts for social media sites like HootSuite also allow you to monitor how your post is doing and how many people are looking at and sharing your information.

HootSuite also allows you to publish your content across various networks in a safe, secure manner that is very user friendly for most SEO content creators.

Another app that’s popular among SEO content producers is BufferApp, which allows you to create posts in advance and share them on social media sites throughout the day. BufferApp also works with your email provider so that you can share updates through your e-mail system if you’re on the go. While there are certain restrictions with BufferApp about how many posts you can create in advance, most people won’t ever reach the limit, making it a very efficient tool.

Pingraphy works sort of like BufferApp, but it’s designed for both business and personal users of Pinterest. Pingraphy allows you to disperse your pins throughout the day so that you don’t bombard your followers all at once. Using Pingraphy also allows you to post during peak hours when you know your followers will be ready to look at the items that you’re posting.

If you’re doing SEO content work on social media sites, these useful apps can make it much easier to share what you want to share, when you want to share it. They can also help you to reach more of your target audience by allowing you to create more content. Using apps also means that you don’t have to sit at your desk all day updating Twitter and Facebook.

Today’s Guest Blog Post courtesy of Marcela De Vivo:

Marcela De Vivo is a freelance writer in the Los Angeles area, specializing in articles about the best blog content, SEO, and moving blogs to WordPress.

 

Before Assuming Penguin / Panda Caused the Problem, Make Sure you are Following SEO Basics

Most SEOs agree that the past year and a half has been the craziest period in the history of SEO. The rankings-crushing algorithm changes known as Panda and Penguin have wreaked havoc across the industry. Many companies have seen their website traffic plummet, leaving their SEO consultants confused about how to proceed. At Evolving Interactive, we are experiencing a surge of sales leads from potential clients hoping we can reverse these penalties and return their website to its previous status. All of the uproar over Panda and Penguin is real and all of it is worth studying. However, it is important to be accurate when diagnosing any drop in rankings or traffic. Too often these days, SEOs and business leaders automatically assume that a penalty is caused by Panda and Penguin before doing a thorough analysis. I believe that it’s more important than ever to make sure that you have a firm grasp of the basics before making assumptions.

A big part of any SEOs job is to troubleshoot problems. If a client’s website is experiencing a big drop in rankings and/or traffic, it’s entirely possible, likely in fact, that their site was penalized do to Panda and Penguin. However, there are many other reasons that could contribute to the drop. There are plenty of very good articles about how to diagnose a Panda or Penguin penalty. I recommend reading Distilled’s excellent write-up about Penguin and checking out Search Engine Land’s infographic about Panda. Since Google continuously roles out new versions of Panda and Penguin, the easiest strategy would be to check your analytics to see when traffic drop occurred and then see if the date matches-up with the any of Google’s algorithm changes. But what if you’ve done your homework and determined that it wasn’t Panda and Penguin? What else could you have done to upset Google?

Long before the days of Panda and Penguin, SEOs were quite busy diagnosing problems. It’s entirely possible that you aren’t following best practices that have been around for many years, but don’t get the same level of attention today. In fact, we have found that problems like duplicate content, slow load time as well as more egregious tactics are still being attempted quite regularly.

This post was inspired by a client who was ranking very well in Yahoo and Bing, but not in Google. They came to us assuming that Google must be penalizing them as a result of Panda and Penguin. After all, that’s what everyone was talking about on all the search blogs. When we examined their analytics, there were no obvious red flags. Instead, what we found was that the company began running a blog shortly before a big drop in rankings, with scraped (i.e. copied) content from other sources. The problem wasn’t over optimization or participating in spammy link practices. It was duplicate content, an issue that’s been around for years.

What else should you be on the lookout for? Check Webmaster Tools to make sure that you don’t have any crawling or indexing issues. Do a site:yoursite.com search for your domain in Google, Yahoo and Bing to make sure that at least your most important pages are getting indexed. Amazingly we have a client that launched a new site and their developer applied a noindex, nofollow on every page. Make sure your pages load quickly and work on all browsers. Avoid flash and other programming languages that can’t be read by search engines. Avoid shortsighted tactics, like adding hidden text, doorway pages or sneaky redirects. Most importantly, make sure you know the basics. Review the Webmaster Guidelines to make sure you know all the rules to the game. You don’t have to be a professional SEO to understand what you should and should not do. Finally, don’t make assumptions just because of the buzz. SEO does change often, but I’m amazed at how the core principles have stayed the same:

• Make sites for users, not search engines
• Publish unique high quality content
• Avoid any get-links quick schemes that will doom you down the road.

If you have a good grasp of basic SEO, you can avoid the overwhelming majority of mistakes.

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