All posts in Search Engine Marketing News

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.

Yesterday, Google made a pretty big change to their local business pages. That is to say, they removed them. As of this morning, all of the local pages are in transition to a new page hosted by the Google + platform. Google has several reasons for making the change, which they explain will create a simpler experience for customers. This simpler experience includes a more proficient rating system, using ratings from Zagat when applicable. Google says it will also make it easier for searchers to leave reviews and recommend businesses to the friends in their circles while logged in to their Google Plus account.

The transition seems to be fairly smooth in terms of bringing over content, though for now it is still recommended that business owners manage their listing through the Places for Business. Right now, the changes have created new plus pages for the business that you can navigate to through the maps listing. For businesses that already have created and manage a local Google Plus page, Google’s instructions is to “hold tight

Today on the Evolving Interactive SEO Blog, we feature a guest post about how to optimize your Facebook profile in a few easy steps. Social media management is a key element to optimizing your business for search engines, a point our guest blogger points out.

Whether you’re running a business or you’re trying to promote yourself, you need to use social networks like Facebook to reach new audiences. Here are a few tips for quickly gaining new followers on Facebook.

1. Engage your followers

Don’t be afraid to ask your readers questions or to offer prizes and contests through your Facebook page. When you make an attempt to communicate with your page’s fans, you bring a lot of positive attention to your page and increase your chances of a viral post.

When you engage your followers, make your posts short and sweet. Try to hook your audience’s attention. If you’re having a lot of trouble getting followers, you might even offer a prize to viewers who share your Facebook page with their friends.

2. Don’t self-promote too frequently

Once you have visitors coming in from shared posts, ads and links, you need to make sure that the first thing that visitors see is a page that offers some value to them. If all of your posts promote your business, band or self, you won’t win too many new followers.

Vary your posts and try to give your visitors a reason to come back. Post interesting links and invite discussion in the comments of each post. You’ll stand a much better chance of getting a viral post that can drive more attention to your page. Remember to check your Facebook page’s Insights to see whether visitors are responding well to a specific type of post.

3. Optimize your page

One of the easiest ways to get quick traffic is to make sure that your page looks impressive. Pay a professional graphic design company to make appropriately sized images for your page. Use an optimized URL by visiting the settings of your Facebook page and make sure that the new URL is easy for your visitors to remember. Delete boring or irrelevant posts and make sure that your page looks professional.

When you have a good Facebook page, you can add your URL to your email signature, put it on business cards and promote it directly, but wait to take this step until you’ve optimized every element. Eventually, growing your base of Facebook followers will be as easy as posting regular updates and including your URL wherever you can, but first you need to understand your audience to make the type of page that people follow regularly.

Guest post courtesy of Shai Atanelov, the Client Services Director for New Edge Design, a web design company in New York.

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Last week, Google announced that its new Social Network platform, Google Plus, will now effect search results.  The buzz spread like wildfire across the SEO industry. How much of a game changer will this be? Will search engine optimization still matter if search results are now personalized instead of taking the most relevant and trustworthy sites and ranking them accordingly?

It’s no secret that Google’s main goal for the past year has been integrating their new budding social network with their search results. Anyone logged into their Google account with a Google Plus profile will see a different set of results than a searcher not logged in. Google Plus users will have the option of personal or worldwide results. There is an icon at the top right of the SERP that shows a silhouette of a person or a globe, and the Plus user can toggle between the two sets of results.

Clicking on the person icon, the top results for a search will be based on recommendations, or Plus 1’s, that you and the people in your circles have made, or info that others have shared with you. Results with reviews and pluses will have higher ranking then those without. By switching over to the globe, you will see the natural results without these social signals affecting them as directly.

Google has used social signals as a part of their algorithm for years, with personalized results getting a boost.  Twitter follows, Facebook likes and shares, and Yelp reviews have factored in to results; companies have used this buzz to crawl up the rankings. Facebook and Twitter have criticized this change, citing that Google will give preferential treatment to its own social signals, a claim Google has denied.

Other features to Google Plus, like the fact that users must opt-out of the personal search and not opt-in, have led to concerns among users and SEO’s. However, it is easy enough to switch the results back to the global, impersonalized results. There is even a way to permanently remove the personalized results in the search settings. Concerns about privacy are also prevalent, as anyone with access to private information can share it publicly. It is ultimately up to the user who they share info with, but the receiver can post it at their whim, so know your circles. As with anything on the internet, it’s a good rule of thumb that if you wouldn’t want your content on the web, don’t upload it to begin with.

As Google Plus fixes the issues and bugs that are inevitable as it gains in popularity, it will be important to make the most of its features. As the social signals for sites that have “Plus 1’s

It is cliché, sure, but we’re about to start a new year, and there really is no easier time to set some new SEO goals for your website. You have 12 months and 4 quarters in front of you to track growth and get into a groove of building your business online. Here are a few tips Evolving Interactive recommends for staying ahead of the search engine marketing game in 2012.

1. Keep up with changes – One of the most valuable tools for me this year has been subscribing and checking in daily with Google’s Small Business blog. In 2011, we’ve had the Panda update, the launch of Google +, a push to develop local businesses, and much more. Subscribe and check in daily to learn about the latest changes that Google is making to (hopefully) make life easier on small businesses.

2. Monthly Brainstorming – Make SEO a priority. Obviously, it’s important. As you look at monthly numbers and reports, think about where you want to improve, and set a few goals in place to get you there (or on the right track) by the start of next month. For example, if you’re seeing growth with a few keywords but are stagnant with others, focus your strategies on some new keywords. It’s going to be more valuable if you’re on top for a wide range of terms. Expand the conversation to include others on your team. Maybe some unconventional ideas will be the shot in the arm you need.

3. Monitor your growth – Think of your most important keyword terms. When you type them into a search engine search bar, what do you see on the results? Are you on the first page? Do some research to figure out how you’re ranking at the start of the new year. There are several tools out there that can help you do this. It’s a good idea to check in with the rankings every month or so to see if you are improving or not. A steady drop in rankings may mean your website has other problems, like broken links or missing pages. Of course, moving up means you’re doing something correctly. Part of the initial consultation we offer at Evolving Interactive is a ranking report for the keywords you pick and we recommend.  If you’d like to know more about SEO rankings and how it affects your business, contact us for a free consultation to get you started in 2012.

And since we’re already on the subject of the new year, all of us at Evolving Interactive want to thank you for keeping up with us at the Evolving Interactive Blog this year. We appreciate your guest blog posts, your comments, and your interest. We look forward to writing for (and with) you in 2012. Happy New Year!

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