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What Makes Google Tick? Hundreds of Items Used in their Search Algorithm
Thursday, April 29, 2010
The other day we discussed a few of the things that Google is working on these days.  This was but a sample of the many items that Google works on in a given week.  The point is, is that Google seems to always have their hand in something and Google is a very complex entity.  This is not unlike their search ranking algorithm as there are hunreds of elements that make up the algorithm as to why one site appears higher than another in the search results of Google.

 
There have been some great articles on Google's algorithm and just what the recipe consists of.  Back in December, Ann Smarty had what I call a very  conclusive post on Google's algorithm recipe.  She listed 200 variables that are most likely factors in Google's ranking algorithm, many of which I would like to reporoduce in this post.  Paul Bannister created a similar post earlier today and both are the inspiration for this post.

I like the approach that both used when compiling their lists as they were sorted by category if you will and included elements from the following:
  • Domain
  • Architecture
  • Server-side issues
  • Content
  • Interlinking
  • Page-specific signals
  • Keyword prominence
  • Outbound links from a site
  • Backlinks
  • Visitor behaviour
  • Filters and Penalties
  • Other
With that, here is a combined variation of Ann and Paul's lists:

Domain: 13 Signals


1. Domain age – as Paul pointed out, older sites tend to rank better, because they have generated ample links and just have that overall authority legacy with them.

2. Length of domain registration – it is always a good idea to try and register your domains for longer than one year.

3. Domain registration information hidden/anonymous

4. Site top level domain TLD (geographical focus, e.g. com versus co.uk)

5. Site top level domain (e.g. .com versus .info)
6. Sub domain or root domain?

7. Domain past records (how often it changed IP)

8. Domain past owners (how often the owner was changed)

9. Keywords in the domain – Keywords in the domain name do in fact have an impact.  Having said that, do not go and spam your URLs, use relevant keywords when it makes sense.
10. Domain IP

11. Domain IP neighbors

12. Domain external mentions (non-linked)

13. Geo-targeting settings in Google Webmaster Tools
 
Architecture: 8 signals


1. URL structure – Use proper words in your links that are meaningful. If using wordpress use permalinks.

2. HTML structure

3. LSI (Latent Semantic Index) words

4. Use of external CSS / JS files

5. Website structure accessibility (use of inaccessible navigation, JavaScript, etc)

6. Use of canonical URLs

7. Valid code – check against http://validator.w3.org/
 
A number of these items can have an impact on site speed and load times.  Optimizing your site architecture is a good first step to your online success.
 
Server-side: 2 signals


1. Server geographical location - reminder that you can alter geographic settings in Google Webmaster Tools for location – http://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/


2. Server reliability / uptime – Get a free monitor setup for 2 URLS at http://host-tracker.com

Content: 14 factors

1. Content language

2. Content uniqueness;

3. Amount of content (text versus HTML);

4. Unlinked content density (links versus text);

5. Pure text content ratio (without links, images, code, etc)

6. Content topicality / timeliness (for seasonal searches for example);

7. Semantic information (phrase-based indexing and co-occurring phrase indicators)

8. Content flag for general category (transactional, informational, navigational)

9. Content / market niche

10. Flagged keywords usage (gambling, dating vocabulary)

11. Text in or surrounding images

12. Malicious content (possibly added by hackers);

13. Rampant mis-spelling of words, bad grammar, and 10,000 word screeds without punctuation;

14. Use of absolutely unique /new phrases
 
Internal Cross Linking: 5 signals


1. # of internal links to page

2. # of internal links to page with identical / targeted anchor text

3. # of internal links to page from content (instead of navigation bar, breadcrumbs, etc)

4. # of links using “nofollow” attribute

5. Internal link density

Website signals: 7 signals


1. Website Robots.txt file content

2. Overall site update frequency

3. Overall site size (number of pages)

4. Age of the site since it was first discovered by Google

5. XML Sitemap

6. On-page trust flags (Contact info ( for local search even more important – Make sure your phone number is on the site), Privacy policy, TOS, and similar)

7. Website type (e.g. blog instead of informational sites in top 10)
 
Page-specific signals: 9 signals


1. Page meta Robots tags

2. Page age

3. Page freshness (Frequency of edits and

% of page effected (changed) by page edits)

4. Content duplication with other pages of the site (internal duplicate content);

5. Page content reading level

6. Page load time (many signals in here)

7. Page type/authority (About-us page versus main content page)

8. Page internal popularity (how many internal links it has)

9. Page external popularity (how many external links it has relevant to other pages of this site)
 
Keywords usage and keyword prominence: 13 signals


1. Keywords in the title of a page

2. Keywords in the beginning of page title

3. Keywords in Alt tags

4. Keywords in anchor text of internal links (internal anchor text)

5. Keywords in anchor text of outbound links

6. Keywords in bold and italic text

7. Keywords in the beginning of the body text

8. Keywords in body text

9. Keyword synonyms relating to theme of page/site

10. Keywords in filenames

11. Keywords in URL

12. No “Randomness on purpose” (placing “keyword” in the domain, “keyword” in the filename, “keyword” starting the first word of the title, “keyword” in the first word of the first line of the description and keyword tag…)

13. The use (abuse) of keywords utilized in HTML comment tags
 
Outbound links: 8 signals


1. Number of outbound links (per domain)

2. Number of outbound links (per page)

3. Quality of pages the site links in

4. Links to bad neighborhoods

5. Relevancy of outbound links

6. Links to 404 and other error pages

7. Links to SEO agencies from clients site

8. Hot-linked images

Backlink profile: 21 signals

1. Relevancy of sites linking in

2. Relevancy of pages linking in

3. Quality of sites linking in

4. Quality of web page linking in

5. Backlinks within network of sites

6. Co-citations (which sites have similar backlink sources)

7. Link profile diversity

       1. Anchor text diversity

       2. Different IP addresses of linking sites

       3. Geographical diversity

       4. Different TLDs

       5. Topical diversity

       6. Different types of linking sites (logs, directories, etc)

       7. Diversity of link placements

8. Authority Link (CNN, BBC, etc) Per Inbound Link

9. Backlinks from bad neighborhoods (absence / presence of backlinks from flagged sites) (It seems that this is less of a factor nowadays – as it would be too easy to affect someone else’s site.)

10. Reciprocal links ratio (relevant to the overall backlink profile)

11. Social media links ratio (links from social media sites versus overall backlink profile)

12. Backlinks trends and patterns (like sudden spikes or drops of backlink number)

13. Citations in Wikipedia and Dmoz

14. Backlink profile historical records (ever caught for link buying/selling, etc)

15. Backlinks from social bookmarking sites.
 
Each Separate Backlink: 6 factors

1. Authority of TLD (.com versus .gov)

2. Authority of a domain linking in

3. Authority of a page linking in

4. Location of a link (footer, navigation, body text)

5. Anchor text of a link (and Alt tag of images linking)

6. Title attribute of a link

Visitor Profile and Behavior: 6 factors
1. Number of visits;

2. Visitors’ demographics;

3. Bounce rate;

4. Visitors’ browsing habits (which other sites they tend to visit)

5. Visiting trends and patterns (like sudden spiked in incoming traffic)

6. How often the listing is clicked within the SERPs (relevant to other listings)

Penalties, Filters and Manipulation: 12 factors

1. Keyword over usage / Keyword stuffing;

2. Link buying flag

3. Link selling flag;

4. Spamming records (comment, forums, other link spam);

5. Cloaking;

6. Hidden Text;

7. Duplicate Content (external duplication)

8. History of past penalties for this domain

9. History of past penalties for this owner

10. History of past penalties for other properties of this owner (?)

11. Past hackers’ attacks records

12. 301 flags: double re-directs/re-direct loops, or re-directs ending in 404 error


Additional Factors (6):

1. Domain registration with Google Webmaster Tools;

2. Domain presence in Google News;

3. Domain presence in Google Blog Search;

4. Use of the domain in Google AdWords;

5. Use of the domain in Google Analytics;

6. Business name / brand name external mentions.

This is a great list, thanks to Ann Smarty from Search Engine Journal for starting the discussion.

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posted by Jody @ Thursday, April 29, 2010  
Google Set to Release Updated Version of their Keyword Tool
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Google's external keyword tool is getting an update.  You may have noticed that you are sent to the new keyword tool that Google began offering in September 2009.


The "new" interface for Google's keyword tool offers a few new options including the ability to filter by location and language.


Currently the keyword tool can be accessed by visiting:
https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal

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posted by Jody @ Wednesday, April 28, 2010  
There’s More to SEO than Just Link Building
Original post found on ASK Enquiro.

Let me start out by saying that to be honest, link building is not one of my favorite subjects.  I have seen way too many examples of webmasters, site owners and so-call SEO people who have abused this idea of link building and used this to try and manipulate the search results.  That’s not what we are about here at Enquiro.  There is more to our SEO services than just link building.

We consult with clients on their linking efforts through items such as link audits and such.  We are well versed in link analysis and use tools to help identify issues with client’s link inventories.  We used advanced link operators such as these to evaluate link inventories for client’s competitors.  We used Google Webmaster Tools to gain insight in both internal and external link inventories for a given site.  We get the importance of link building, but there’s more to SEO than just link building.

The fact is that the search engine algorithms are fundamentally based on link popularity.  Yahoo for example, was started by David Filo and Jerry Yang got together  in February 1994 to organize their favorite sites on the Web.  They began compiling their lists of favorite links eventually turning Yahoo into the most popular destination on the Web.  Since then, most (all?) search engines that have followed have used link popularity as a key part of their search engine algorithm.  I take issue with this a little because based on my experience as a searcher the results that appear at the top of a given keyword query are not always relevant, and knowing that a reason a lot of these site appear is due to link popularity, I would love to see a shift in the algorithm.  For me relevant search results are exactly what I am looking for.  We tend to put a lot of trust into Google in terms of the search results that they present us, but you know as well as I that there are always potentially better results that are not on the first page of Google’s search results.  Why do you think Google is pushing things like personalization and blended results?  Why have they shifted focus to provide real-time search results? Websites that have artificially inflated their link inventories does not always equate to relevant results.  Again this is another reason as to why there is more to SEO than just link building.

Now don’t get me wrong, I understand the importance of link building.  How you go about link building and the types of links you acquire  is your business.  For me, I am more in favor of the approach that the search engines communicate that they would like to see and that is building your link inventory in a natural manner.

A few years back this was referred to as “link-baiting”.  Over the years link building has changed and more recently how link popularity as part of the search algorithms continues to change.  Think about some of the reasons for this:
  • Un-trustworthy link practices are tripping the filters and resulting in more penalties than ever before.
  • There are a ton, most likely billions of non-linked "references" that are on the web through avenues such as social media messages, instant messages, emails, and tweets. There is a lot of relevant content here.  You cannot tell me that someone, at Google or the other search engines, is not evaluating this data to see how they can extract value and relevancy from this content.
  • The ease of setting up a blog or website for the purposes of link building.  The content is being watered down and artificially linked web properties are polluting the search results
  • More weight is being place on brands and
  • The ability to acquire and purchase links has established an accelerated rate of link acquisition causing the engines to take more proactive action to address the volume and new unknown value of these links  
Rand Fishkin had a great piece on how link building is changing over at SEOmoz where he shared some similar reasons as to what he feels has caused this change or shift.  http://www.seomoz.org/blog/link-building-has-changed

So if there is more to SEO than link building, what does this “more” consist of?  Well there are two areas where you should be focusing your marketing efforts on:

The most important piece of SEO?  Where many will say link building and link popularity, we say content.  Content is the key to all that you do with any of your marketing efforts.  It does not matter if you are a B2B site or a B2C site.  Without useful, informative and somewhat unique and timely content, your online efforts may prove fruitless.  When we refer to content, we are not just talking about a traditional web page of content.  In 2010, content is dynamic and can be in the form of various guises including:
  1. Keyword Research
  2. Content
In terms of keywords, all search queries or questions begin with a keyword or a key phrase.  Recent trends show that longer key phrase queries are up with phrases that contain 8 or more words on the increase.  (This data has been supported by findings from Hitwise).  The fact of the matter is, without a sound keyword research process and keyword strategy, link building becomes somewhat irrelevant.  Keywords will always be a part of the search process.  At the heart of any search is a keyword.  Why do you think that the search engines spend so much time compiling user data and learning about semantic mapping? 

keyword-trends


The most important piece of SEO?  Where many will say link building and link popularity, we say content.  Content is the key to all that you do with any of your marketing efforts.  It does not matter if you are a B2B site or a B2C site.  Without useful, informative and somewhat unique and timely content, your online efforts may prove fruitless.  When we refer to content, we are not just talking about a traditional web page of content.  In 2010, content is dynamic and can be in the form of various guises including:
  • Video
  • Tweets
  • Facebook status updates
  • Blog posts
  • Press releases
  • Images
  • Smart phone applications
  • Podcast

The fact is people search looking to find timely information and in case you haven’t noticed, this habit has become social.  Of course Facebook and Twitter are the obvious examples, but think about all of the other environments where people go to find and share information.  From forums to YouTube to popular blogs, information has never been so accessible.  From an SEO perspective ensuring that your site features timely and useful information that can be shared will assist in improving the visibility of your site and web properties links or not.  To state the obvious, you need content to link to and from.  You can build your link inventory with great content. Should your SEO strategy be centered around link building?  We suggest no.  Should it be centered around content?  Our answer is yes.

A third area of SEO that always plays second fiddle to link building is on-page optimization.  Yet almost every site that we look at has missed some of the fundamentals in terms of on-page optimization.   On-Page optimization is a key piece to your SEO strategy that can be easy to address whereas link building can take a lot of resources.  Link building a key part of SEO?  Yes for sure but not the only part and not the most  important part from the way we see it.

What would happen if Google made a fundamental shift with their algorithm and decided to place less value on link popularity?  All of the link building in the world would not help you.  In fact they have done this with past algorithm updates (think of algoruthm updates such as Florida).

The future of SEO will be less about links and more about content, the timely presentation of that content and the social dialogue about your brand.  You decide where you want to spend your time; link building or participating in a conversation with your audience?  The choice seems like an obvious one.

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posted by Jody @ Wednesday, April 28, 2010  
What is Google Up to these Days?
Sunday, April 25, 2010
Original Post featured on ASK Enquiro

Ever wonder just what goes on at the Googplex?  I have been fortunate enough to get a tour and have been to the GooglePlex on a couple of different occassions.  It is a pretty cool environment, which actually reminds me a lot of our very own environment here at Enquiro.  In fact there are a number of similarities between Enquiro and Google.  One thing that we are big on here at Enquiro is continuous improvement.  We are always looking to improve our engine (not to be confused with search engine).  Google is no different.  The folks at Google are always looking to improve their service and product offerings.  After all, it is not easy to effectively sort the world’s information.

So what goes on at Google?  What’s in the secret sauce?  What are they going to come up with next?  How will they change Search from what we know it to be today?  Well the fact is, your guess is as good as mine, but we do know that Google continues to refine and tweak their business as they follow their mantra to “do no evil”.

Earlier this week, Google’s Matt Cutts, released a brief video discussing the fact that Google likely makes a change per day to the search algorithm. They don’t necessarily release those changes each day, but they will release them in batches.  Every day, can you image?  This is probably why they continue to be North America’s most popular search engine well popular based on market share.  The point is Google is always up to something.  They do not settle for complancency, in fact Google promotes change, creativity and innovation.  If you think about it, this is how they have become one of the world’s most recognized and popular brands.

So let’s take a look at some of the cool things about Google that have come out in the past week or so.

20 Things That Google is Up To
  1. Google hired goats to cut the lawn - according to Google, more than 200 goats from California Grazing have once again arrived at Google’s Mountain View headquarters where they’ll stay for over a week chomping away on grassy goodness. 
  2. Google Webmaster Tools Now Showing Clickthrough Data - big news for search marketers as this data provides some great insight into what people actually click on from a natural search perspective.  Google previously just reported the average position at which your site’s pages appeared in the search results for a particular query. Now you can click on a given search query in the Top search queries report to see a breakdown of the number of impressions and the amount of clickthrough for each position that your site’s pages appeared at in the search results associated with that query. Impressions are the number of times that your site’s pages appeared in the search results for the query. Clickthrough is the number of times searchers clicked on that query’s search results to visit a page from your site.
  3. Google Holds an Atmosphere Conference to talk cloud computing - Atmosphere 2010 featured a range of luminaries and thought leaders – including senior Google executives, technology innovators, and industry analysts – providing input on the cloud and the issues shaping IT today. http://www.google.com/events/atmosphere2010/
  4. Google announced the Google Product Reviews Program – at the Bazaarvoice Social Commerce Summit, Google Product Director Sameer Samat announced the Google Product Reviews Program. Through the program, we will begin featuring full-length product reviews and user ratings from participating retailers and manufacturers wherever it will help users with their shopping, including in our search results and advertising programs.  Sound interesting?  Read more here: http://www.google.com/intl/en_us/products/reviews.html
  5. Forbes communicated that the Google Guys are amongst the greenest billionaires on the planet.  In fact, through Google’s charitable foundation, Google.org, the billionaire duo of Larry Page and Sergey Brin has committed $100 million in grants to nonprofits and investments in companies ranging from solar energy to development of plug-in electric vehicle technologies.
  6. Google to Impose on Salesforce? – according to reports from businessinsider.com, Google may be looking to impose on Salesforce territory.  “Within roughly 3 1/2 years, Google Apps has amassed 25 million users and more than 2 million businesses. In contrast, it took Salesforce.com 10 years to reach 2 million users and 72,000 businesses.”  Google’s Marketplace announcement a few weeks back
  7. Matt Cutts from Google recently posted his presentation from SMX West where he discussed, Google’s SEO audit that it did on itself.
  8. Google launched a new feature in real-time search that gives you the ability to search and replay the public archive of tweets on Twitter. While real-time search usually focuses on what’s happening now, our new feature is helpful for viewing the history of what happened in the past and how people reacted to a particular topic on Twitter.
  9. Google Adds Buzz, Localized Suggest To Maps - Google Buzz has been available on Maps for mobile devices, but now Google has made it possible to access Buzz on Maps for the PC. In addition Google is rolling out localized Search Suggest for Maps in more places around the world.
  10. Bloomberg News is reporting that Google is in discussions on what could be a $1 billion buyout of ITA Software, a company that provides reservation/information systems used by many well-known travel industry companies.  “Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information, and ITA does that for travel,” said Henry Harteveldt, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc. in San Francisco.
  11. Google has decided to change the name of what was called the “Google Local Business Center” to “Google Places.” The rationale, according to the press release, is to better connect Google Place Pages with the place where local business information is claimed, entered and enhanced because millions of people use Google to find local businesses each and every day. http://sites.google.com/a/pressatgoogle.com/googleplaces/press-release
  12. Google responded to reports suggesting that a consumer advocacy group thinks the government should break up Google.
  13. Google Buys Stealth Hardware Startup Agnilux - in yet another acquisition.
  14. Google shared information on the crawling of XML sitemaps in that “Google’s Sitemaps crawler usually reacts to the update frequency of your Sitemap files.” Note that if you find that Google is crawling your sites too frequently, you can also set the crawl rate in Webmaster Tools for those sites.
  15. Google’s Virtual Keyboard Now In Search Bar- this is something cool as Google is deploying their virtual keyboards on the search results pages for their non-English based search portals.
  16. Google has begun leveraging recently acquired social search startup Aardvark, using it for Help Support. The service allows you to ask questions and get responses almost immediately from other users who are knowledgeable about the topic at hand.
  17. Google announced updates that will help you read and write foreign scripts with Google Transliteration and Script Converter.  – http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2010/04/helping-you-read-and-write-foreign.html
  18. Google launched a new Government Requests tool to give people information about the requests for user data or content removal we receive from government agencies around the world. They are using data from July-December, 2009, and plan to update the data in 6-month increments.
  19. Google unveiled Rich Snippets for recipes – Rich Snippets are the brief annotations you see beneath search results that summarize what’s on a webpage. In addition to Rich Snippets for reviews, people, video and events, this week Google unveiled a new Rich Snippets format for recipes.
  20. Google sheds some light on using a trailing slash or not….
We could go on an on, but you get the point.  Google is busy and continues to make improvements in all facets of their service and product offering.  So what did your organization accomplish in the past week?

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posted by Jody @ Sunday, April 25, 2010  
WordStream Launches SEO Toolset with
Thursday, April 22, 2010
On Tuesday, WordStream launched a new SEO Toolset with advanced keyword research and content optimization features.  In addition to providing a list of keyword suggestions, WordStream for SEO offers the following features:
  • Traditional Keyword Research: WordStream for SEO generates keyword suggestions that are pulled from a deep database of search engine queries
  • Personalized Keyword Suggestions: WordStream for SEO goes further than traditional keyword generator tools by mining site data to discover relevant keyword opportunities that people are already using to find the site
  • Keyword Analytics: Instead of vague estimates based on popularity, WordStream provides accurate visit and goal data for keywords from the site on a continuous basis
  • Keyword Organization: WordStream for SEO has sophisticated grouping and organization capabilities, which let users segment keyword lists and uncover content opportunities, analyze data in strategic clusters and create a SEO-friendly information architecture
  • Content Authoring: The Blog SEO Tool within WordStream for SEO connects keyword research with content creation efforts to help generate better, more focused, search engine ready blog posts, product pages and sales copy

Part of the WordStream for SEO toolset, Blog SEO, is a Firefox plugin that works alongside content management platforms, such as WordPress, Blogger and Drupal. Blog SEO allows users to discover more specific keyword and copy ideas around general or more granular topics as they are writing. The Blog SEO plugin also keeps a running count of each keyword phrase as it is used, working to keep writers “on message” after the initial research stage.

The below chart details how WordStream Keyword Management for SEO compares to similar offerings from Wordtracker and Keyword Discovery:


For more information, sign up for a FREE trial by going to: http://www.wordstream.com/seo-free-trial.

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posted by Jody @ Thursday, April 22, 2010  
A Look at the Value of Search Engine Stock
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
For those of you who have been involved in the Search Industry for some time now, you understand that the only constant in this industry is change.  Technology and innovation continue to make the digital world better and ever-changing.  The Search industry is an exciting one to be in, and even though there is a dominant player in Google, Search is transforming to include more than just search engines (although for this post. out focus is one that of search engines).

One of the things we like to keep an eye on is how the value of Search Engine stock fluctuates with major industry announcements.  Something that we have not discussed in some time is how the value of the search engines stack up from a share price perspective.  Of course one major announcement can have a dramatic impact on the share price, but we thought we would perform a comparison of some of the major search engines and/or their parent companies.

Prices are as of 04-20-10, noon PST.

Google (GOOG) - Google went public in August 2004 and had done quite well since them.  Current share price is around $560, but has fluctuated based on Google initiatives and announcements.  Google stock is quite active to say the least.  More on Google stock:
Yahoo Finance‎   CNN Money‎   Reuters‎  

Yahoo (YHOO)- Yahoo is still the second most popular search engine in North America that is not a Google property (i.e. YouTube).  The past couple of years have been difficult for Yahoo will a culmination of a "partnership" with Microsoft.  Current share price has reflected this over the past 24 months as stock price is currently around $18.35.  More on Yahoo:
Yahoo Finance‎   CNN Money‎   Reuters‎  

Microsoft (MFST) - Bing's parent company, Microsoft's share price has increased quite nicely over the past year and is currently floating around $31.40.  More on Microsoft's share price:
Yahoo Finance‎   CNN Money‎   Reuters‎  


IAC/InterActiveCorp (IACI) - parent company of ASK.com, IAC has more than 50 brands serving consumer audiences across more than 30 countries.  Share price has increased by about 44% over the past twelve months. 

Baidu (BIDU) - China's largest search engine. Baidu has been performing quite well.  Currently hovering around $635/share.   More on Baidu's stock price and performance:
Yahoo Finance‎   CNN Money‎   Reuters‎  

AOL (AOL) -AOl's share price has stayed pretty consistent with a 52 week range of $22.10-$28.65.  As of today AOL share's price is $27.72.


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posted by Jody @ Tuesday, April 20, 2010  
5 Great Resources on Mobile SEO
Sunday, April 18, 2010
A while back, we found it difficult to find any quality information on mobile SEO.  The reason for this?  Well not sure, but it could be that mobile marketing is still not taking off as much as it should be.  However mobile marketing is inevitable.  It seems as though many marketers are still "in the dark" about mobile SEO tips and tricks, but as more resources become available, you can expect this to change.

There are some great mobile SEO resources starting to emerge.  We have featured some great mobile SEO tips here on Marketing Jive although we do not consider ourselves to be experts on the subject.  To get you started, we thought that we would share five great resources on mobile SEO.

Mobile SEO Resources

  1. The New Mobile SEO: What You Need To Know - Cindy Klum from Rank-Mobile, LLC is a true mobile SEO expert and wrote a great article that was recently featured on Search Engine Land where she share some great insight about mobile SEO.  She shares some great reminders including:

    Mobile search engines have different bots and algorithms than those used for traditional web search. They evaluate your website as if it was being rendered on a mobile phone, and they rank results partially based on how well the page will render on the type of phone that submitted the query.


  2. Mobile Marketing Association - a great resources for all things that are mobile marketing.  The site features some great mobile stats as well as some very informative research reports.  Visit: http://mmaglobal.com/main

  3. Mobile SEO Google Group - This is a great resource for sharing best practices for mobile SEO. By invitation only. http://groups.google.com/group/mobile-seo

  4. The Ultimate Guide to Mobile SEO - from our very own Marketing Jive, we recently shared some mobile SEO tips for those looking to develop their own mobile marketing strategy.  We also included some additional mobile SEO resources in this post as well.  We even shared some tips for e-commerce sites looking to take advantage of the "mobile Web" that touched on using:
    • mobile galleries
    • product catalogs and shopping basket
    • billing management
    • ease of use/login

  5. Is Your Website Ready for the Mobile Web? - Thomas McMahon over at Top Rank Marketing shared some great thoughts for mobile marketing including tips that can be used when designing your CSS for handheld web browsers.
    http://www.toprankblog.com/2010/01/is-your-website-ready-for-the-mobile-web/
Looking for additional resources on mobile marketing? Check out the list of resources from: http://www.brysonmeunier.com/mobile-seo-resources/

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posted by Jody @ Sunday, April 18, 2010  
Enquiro Wins 1st Place for Best Social Media Integrated Campaign from BtoB Magazine
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
We are pleased to announce that  Enquiro has won an award from BtoB Magazine for Best Social Media Integrated Campaign. 

Judges have picked the entry “Supply Chain Experts: Learn, Laugh, Share and Connect” as the 1st Place entry in the Best social media integrated campaign from a tech company category.


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posted by Jody @ Wednesday, April 14, 2010  
14 Sitemap Best Practices for Optimizing Your Sitemaps
Sunday, April 11, 2010
We previously discussed the importance of sitemaps and how they can help both human visitors and search engine crawlers navigate your site to find your most important content.  Why are we focusing on sitemaps and the importance of them?  Well you would think that every site out there has a sitemap right?  Wrong.  You would think that in this day an age most sitemaps are well optimized right?  Again wrong.  From small, twenty page sites to large e-commerce sites with hundreds of thousands if not millions of pages, we continue to see numerous sites without optimized sitemaps.  In fact we still come across sites that do not even employ a sitemap.

Of course when we discuss sitemaps, we should mention that there are two main types of sitemaps, the HTML version that actually appears on your site and the XML version that you create for search engine submission.  Our definitive list of sitemap best practices will feature tips for both, but for the most part is geared more towards the HTML sitemap.

14 Sitemap Best Practices

  1. Ensure that your sitemap is found at the root of your site hierarchy -  your sitemap should look something like: www.your-site.com/sitemap as opposed to something like www.your-site.com/content/index/sitemap or www.your-site.com/sitemap/sitemap
  2. Limit the number of links on your main sitemap to 100-150 pages - this still appears to be the sweet spot with the search engines.  If you are a larger site, consider the creation of multiple themed based sitemaps.  Google even states in their Webmaster Guidelines, "If the site map is larger than 100 or so links, you may want to break the site map into separate pages."
  3. Created Multiple Themed Based Sitemaps - to help promote content themes, and thus communicate your site as an authority on a given topic, creating themed sitemaps is a great way to not only help users navigate to this content, but to also let the engines know what your site is about.  Themed based sitemaps also help create consistent interlinking by using similar keywords in anchor text thereby improving the inbound link quality of your pages that you are linking to.
  4. Organize your sitemap(s) in a logical manner - this speaks to the themed content as mentioned above.  It should be easy for users to navigate your website, especially from your sitemap.  Directing the user through a logical navigation map is an easy way to ensure that users will engage with your most important content.
  5. Use descriptive, relevant keyword rich anchor text - this is a must when creating your sitemap.  Chances are that your sitemap is going to inherit PageRank from the homepage and thus be considered somewhat of an authoritative page.  Using keyword rich anchor text from an authoritative (and more importantly relevant page) is a great way to improve the inbound link quality score for the page being linked to (a key factor used in the ranking algorithms of the search engines.).  Try to incorporate keywords into the linking text that is featured on your sitemap.
  6. Keep your sitemap up-to-date - Check for broken links and correct HTML.
  7. Link to canonical (i.e. your preferred page) URLs - if you have multiple versions of a webpage, you should use the canonical tag to identified the preferred URL.  Ideally you should only have a single version of a given webpage on your site anyway.  As a result, this is the page that you should be linking to from your sitemap.
  8. Place a link to your sitemap on the homepage - preferably near the top.  There are still numerous sites out there that make it difficult for users to find their sitemap.  The link to your sitemap should be conspicuous.  Many site owners link to their sitemap from their footer as well.
  9. Make your sitemap a static page - avoid placing your sitemap in an image, in a Flash file or in an i-frame or type of coding that cannot be read by the search engine crawlers.
  10. Avoid hidden text or hidden links. - this should be self-explanatory by now, but this can and will get you penalized by the search engines.  Try not to use a super small font either.  Again if you need to have multiple pages for your sitemap do so.  Take the time to plan out your sitemap strategy.
  11. Help Google crawl your site - Make sure your web server supports the If-Modified-Since HTTP header. This feature allows your web server to tell Google whether your content has changed since we last crawled your site. Supporting this feature saves you bandwidth and overhead.
  12. Set the priority and frequency of your crawling activity - this is specific to your XML sitemap.  It is a good idea to set the priority of your sitemap page higher so that the search engines crawl this page regularly.  That way when you update your sitemap with new links to new pages, the search engines should be able to crawl and index this content sooner rather than later.
  13. Include information about images - again specific to your XML sitemap, you can use the sitemaps extension to provide Google with key information about images. For each URL you list in your Sitemap, you can add additional information about important images that exist on that page.
  14. Use Video Sitemaps - do you host your own videos on your site?  If so you might want to leverage a video sitemap to enlighten the search engines about your video content. 

Examples of Well Optimized Sitemaps

Marketing Jive - not to be biased, but our very own sitemap is a great example of a sitemap that is logical, concise and leverages relevant keyword rich text links.  Due to our blogging platform, we were limited with some of the design elements, but our sitemap is still useful in guiding users to our most important content.


Zappos http://www.zappos.com/site-map - the Zappos sitemap is a good example of a large e-commerce site that takes advantage of a themed sitemap to guide users to the area that they are interested in.  Zappos features a number of mini sitemap-like pages that help the user find the content that they are looking for.  They make use of static URLs making it easier for the purposes of interlinking key site content.  Well done Zappos!


Oracle http://www.oracle.com/sitemaps/sitemaps.html - the Oracle sitemap does a good job of navigating the user to the various content themes that are featured on their site.  They use a logical hierarchy that helps drive traffic to the specific content silos that site visitors may be looking for.

Disney http://home.disney.go.com/sitemap/ - Disney does a great job of help users navigate their site with a sitemap that takes users basically one click to anywhere they need to go on the Disney site.  The sitemap is not overwhelming and is intuitive to the various content areas of the site.  The coding of their sitemap page is very clean making it easy for the search engines to follow as well.




Examples of large e-commerce sites that feature sitemaps that are sufficient, but still have room for improvement include:
  • http://www.toysrus.com/sitemap/map.jsp
  • http://www.backcountry.com/store/site_map.html
  • http://www.lego.com/en-US/siteindex/default.aspx

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posted by Jody @ Sunday, April 11, 2010  
Sitemap Optimization: The Importance of Sitemaps
Friday, April 09, 2010
I remember one of the first tasks that I had to do when I got into the industry way back when.  I was tasked with creating an HTML sitemap for a client.  I was new to the industry and at the time had limited HTML skills so this seemed like a most challenging task for me.  To be honest I did not even know what a sitemap was exactly so I had to do a little research.  What I quickly discovered was the importance of sitemaps.

Sitemaps serve two major functions:
  1. To help users navigate your site
  2. To help search engine crawlers navigate your website
I would add a third in that sitemaps are very useful when interlinking important content on your site. After I completed the task of constructing my very first sitemap, I must say that I was pretty proud of what I developed.  I had basically created this amazing portal/navigation page that helped direct visitors to my client's content.  Over the years I have worked on numerous and more elaborate sitemap strategies and every time I work on a sitemap strategy, I continue to appreciate the value of a well optimized sitemap.

Years later the three major search engines agreed on a set protocol for sitemaps, of the XML variety, and the sitemap became even more important.  Sitemaps are a great tool for helping the search engines crawl and index your content... and when we talk about content, we are not just referring to typical web pages.  Sitemaps can be used for video optimization via creation of a video sitemap and for images as announced this week by Google.  As Google illustrates:
Sitemaps are an invaluable resource for search engines. They can highlight the important content on a site and allow crawlers to quickly discover it. Images are an important element of many sites and search engines could equally benefit from knowing which images you consider important.

Now you can use a Sitemaps extension to provide Google with exactly this information. For each URL you list in your Sitemap, you can add additional information about important images that exist on that page.

The example shared by Google looks like this:


  
   xmlns:image="http://www.google.com/schemas/sitemap-image/1.1">
  
    http://example.com/sample.html
    
        http://example.com/image.jpg
    
  


We have discussed the benefits of XML sitemaps in the past, this new sitemap extension is a great way to share information about the images that you feature on your site.

Sitemaps are one of the greatest tools that you can leverage for the purpose of navigation.  Acting like an index in a book, sitemaps help guide both users and search engine crawlers to the pages that are the most important.  You can control which pages are featured on your sitemap and as a result direct users to this content accordingly. 

If you have not recently updated your HTML sitemap and/or your XML sitemap, you might want to take some time to do so.  An updated sitemap will help direct traffic to any new content that you have added to your website.  Help users engage with this content by adding a link to it from your sitemap.  The importance and significance of a sitemap is obvious, you should leverage your sitemaps in he best interests of your site visitors.  Make it easy for them to find your content.  A well optimized sitemap will do just that.

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posted by Jody @ Friday, April 09, 2010  
Top 11 SEO Posts from Marketing Jive - Q1 2010
Wednesday, April 07, 2010
Here is a look at our top 11 SEO posts from the past quarter.  Why eleven?  Well no reason, it happens to be my favorite number and it was tough to just pick seven as we had originally planned when we thought about compiling this list.

Content continueto be a critical component to SEO, so over the past quarter we have decided to focus a number of posts about content development and content development strategies.  We have discussed everything from content development and on-page optimization to SEO roadmaps and mobile SEO making it difficult to pick just 11 articles, but here are our top eleven SEO articles from the past quarter.

Top 11 SEO Posts from Marketing Jive - Q1 2010

#11.  B2B Content Development: Auditing Your Existing Content - performing an analysis of your existing content is a key piece of moving forward with your content development strategy.  For B2B sites, where content can be the reason why people visit your site once vs. remaining as a repeat visitor, content development is a must.  This article discusses the importance of content mapping and the need for timelt presentation of your content.


#10.  Top 10 Search Events of Q1 2010 - we recapped some of the top Search stories from the first quarter of 2010.  Facebook passing Google in traffic? Yahoo celebrating their 15th birthday?  Check out the post to find out what the top story of Q1 was.


#9.  SEMPO State of Search Engine Marketing Report Results Released for 2010 - learn about some of the findings from SEMPO's annual state of the market study.


#8.  Page Speed Coming to a Ranking Algorithm Near You - is Google factoring page speed and load time into how they rank one page over another?  Recent conversation from Google seems to suggest so.  If they haven not yet started modifying their algorithms to factor in page speed, it appears that they will be.  Could something be around the corner?


#7.  SEO Education & Knowledge Transfer: 21 Ways to Share SEO Knowledge - with the digital age and access to what seems endless information, comes information overload.  SEO is an ever-changing discipline, so how does one keep up with everything?  We discuss twenty one ways of transferring SEO knowledge with this post.


#6.  High Bounce Rates Are Not Necessarily a Bad Thing - using bounce rate as a measurement of success for your website?  Most people think that a high bounce rate is a bad thing.  Heck even Google perceives high bounce rate as a negative factor on your site.  We disagree.  Here's why.


#5.  Interlinking Strategy: Establish an Interlinking Process - many site owners do not pay enough attention to internal linking and establishing an interlinking strategy.  Here are some tips for establishing an interlinking process for your web properties.


#4.  Homepage Optimization Best Practices - your homepage can be the most important page on your site.  So why haven't you optimized it then?   Here are some great tips for optimizing your homepage for both the user and the search engines.


#3.  Planning a Content Development Strategy - we told you that content development was a key theme for our posts from Q1 2010, and quite frankly, content development will continue to be a recurring theme with our posts throughout the remainder of 2010.


#2.  Mobile SEO Tips: The Ultimate Guide to Mobile Search Optimization - yes this is the definitive list of mobile seo tips.  Go and search for a better list and see if you find one.  Download our free mobile SEO cheat sheet here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/29252624/Mobile-SEO-Cheat-Sheet


#1.  SEO Roadmaps: Building an SEO Roadmap to Guide Your Online Marketing Focus - want to map out your SEO strategy?  Why not create an SEO roadmap to "map" out your areas of focus.  You can use the roadmap to prioritize the items that you need to accomplish so that your site is SEO ready and will increase qualified traffic and interaction with your web properties.

A very eventful Q1, we expect the same in Q2 as Search continues to go mainstream.  If you enjoy our tips and posts, please subscribe to our feed.  Thanks for stopping by.

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posted by Jody @ Wednesday, April 07, 2010  
Keyword Research: PPC Keyword Research and the B2B Buyer
Tuesday, April 06, 2010
Just a reminder that today Enquiro President and CEO Gord Hotchkiss will share key findings from his BuyerSphere book pertaining to keyword research through a new webcast. This webcast will use research from Enquiro’s BuyerSphere Project to show how marketers can gain a better understanding of prospect intent to significantly improve their search strategy.

Download your free copy of the BuyerSphere book.

Webcast Details

B2B search marketing is very different from B2C, but not for the reasons you might expect. Here are the three biggest challenges for the B2B search marketer:

1. There’s often no common vocabulary for keyword selection – Unlike many consumer categories, where both vendors and prospects agree on the keywords to be used, in B2B, often marketers use their internal “best guess” to set up their keyword lists. This can lead to a disconnect right out of the starting gate.

2. Shifting roles through the process – Unlike consumer scenarios, where progression tends to be more linear, in many B2B purchases there’s a significant shift in the people involved and the intent part way through a B2B purchase process. Your search marketing strategy has to accommodate this shift and provide relevant information to buyers on both sides of it.

3. Risk is the Primary Driver of Intent – In big ticket B2B purchases, risk mitigation is the primary goal of the buyer. There is little or no reward to offset risk. B2B search campaigns have to align with this reality, from the keyword selection through ad messaging to the intended paths on the website.


Gord will share key findings, including:
  • How to map out the search landscape through keyword research driven by prospect behavior
  • How to ensure your search ad messaging is designed to mitigate risk and prompt engagement
  • How to recognize the “Risk Gap” shift and bridge the gap for prospects
Following the main presentation, Wordstream will provide case studies of successful use of keyword research in B2B search marketing.  Register for the webcast here.

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posted by Jody @ Tuesday, April 06, 2010  
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