Category Archives for Search Engine Optimization

Has your site been hit by Google Penguin?

SEO: Search Engine OptimizationGoogle changes have been coming fast and furious. Over the last few months:

  • Matt Cutts announced in March that a “over optimization” penalty was coming.
  • Soon after that, many sites received a “unnatural links have been detected ..” message in GWMT (Google Webmaster Tools).
  • A Google Panda update was released on April 19, 2012.
  • Google Penguin was released on April 24, 2012.

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Moving Beyond On Page SEO and Off Page SEO

SEO: Search Engine Optimization

Most people divide SEO (search engine optimization) into two buckets – on page SEO and off page SEO. However, with changes in the SEO landscape over the last couple of years, these tactical ways of thinking may have you overlooking some key SEO principles. It’s time to take a bigger picture, more comprehensive view of your site’s SEO.

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Is Anchor Text in Backlinks No Longer Relevant?

SEO: Search Engine OptimizationIf you research SEO, you will find that one recommendation is to build backlinks with relevant keyword rich anchor text. This touches on the topic of linkbuilding which is the activity of getting other websites to link to yours. Anchor text in the links with keywords gives Google another signal that your page is relevant to those keywords and should rank for search queries containing those keywords. Or so the story goes.

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Even with help, Bing struggles with duplicate content

seo: search engine optimizationFair warning, this one is for the SEO geeks out there.
Checking indexation and for duplicate content issues on Bing is sometimes overlooked with all the focus on Google. But it’s always good to check once in a while to see how your site’s SEO is doing on Bing. Check out my basic overview of Bing Webmaster Tools if it is new for you.

In this case, I had a client that had a number of very similar pages that did not fully have the rel canonical tag fully applied as a solution. Based on Eric Enge’s interview with Duane Forrester, where Duane stated “If we are finding your pages, but not keeping them in the index, there is a reason for that.” I decided to see what Bing Webmaster’s Index Explorer had indexed as “quality content” as a data point.

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Will Your Site Go Dark on January 18th?

Stop Internet CensorshipMany websites are planning a blackout on January 18th to protest the SOPA legislation. Like many things, SOPA (Stop Online Piracy) started out as a well intentioned effort, mainly spearheaded by the music industry, to tackle piracy and copyright infringement by “rogue” websites. However many think the legislation goes too far.

The opponents say that SOPA would give the US government the ability to completely block a website from US viewing even if just one link on that site violates copyright. It wouldn’t matter if the link was created by a user and not the site owner, blockage would still be possible. If that doesn’t bother you, this FAQ on SOPA may. No wonder sites such as reddit – which are driven by user generated content – are up in arms over this legislation and plan to go dark on January 18th as a protest.

While there is some fearmongering going on here, it is clear that the legislation is dangerous and not really in the spirit of a free and open internet that many of us expect. SOPA opponents have many valid points. While there are signs that the White House is beginning to waver in its support of the bill, we are not out of the woods yet.

Joining the SOPA blackout protest? Read this first

Many are urging webmasters to protest by posting a statement on their site or altering their site to redirect to this effective AmericanCensorship.org infographic. There are already WordPress plugins created that you can use. However before you run off and implement any of these, consider that your actions may have a negative impact on your site’s SEO. Have a read of this post:
How to participate in the outage without hurting your site with Google search. Google recommends that you have your site return a 503 HTTP status code so that it knows not to spider your content that day.

It occurs to me that maybe Google should just not crawl that day?

Picture by aussiegold and published under the Flickr Creative Commons License

Yoast’s WordPress SEO Plugin – Review

WordPress SEO by YoastFor quite a while I routinely recommended the All in SEO WordPress plugin, but that changed when Yoast introduced his WordPress plugin. I’ve used it on four WordPress sites and each time my appreciation of this wonderful plugin has grown. Not just for myself, but also because it helps my clients write more SEO optimized posts and pages.

I used to get frustrated after carefully explaining to new bloggers and site owners how to write SEO friendly permalinks, page titles and meta descriptions — and then watching them forget everything I told them by creating poorly optimized posts and pages. Now I can lead the horse to water, and he (or she) actually drinks it! Another great bonus about this plugin is that is it so comprehensive is that it does the job of several plugins. For example there is no need to install a sitemap plugin – Yoast’s plugin will take care of that too for you.

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Which is better? SEO or PPC?

Deciding between SEO and PPC?Once you have a website launched, the next question you need to answer is how you are going to get traffic to it.

Today you have a lot of options you can choose from. One way to get traffic is to pay for advertising with the search engines and other networks (such as Facebook). Or instead of paying for advertising, you can focus on getting your website found when people search for a solution that your business provides. You can also attract interest with social media. In this article we are going to look at advertising using PPC and ranking using SEO.

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What most people miss about Google Webmasters Tools verification

GoogleGetting your site set up and verified with Google Webmaster Tools is one of the tasks that should be done with any new site. For one thing, if your site hasn’t been indexed yet by Google, it will be if you submit it to GWMT (Google Webmaster Tools). Second, as I have mentioned before, GWMT is a communication channel from Google to you about any problems that could hurt your site’s SEO.

One annoying thing, and many people miss this, is that you should verify both the ‘www’ and non ‘www’ versions of your site with Google Webmasters Tools, even if you have a 301 redirect (as you should) setup from one to the another.

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Domain Management

Domain Forwarding and SEO

Ever worked with a lead management marketing system? There are many out there, for a monthly fee, you get a website complete with a choice of landing pages, auto-responders (often prewritten for you) and a contact management system. They work well with online advertising; where your banner, PPC ads drive traffic directly to your pre-built landing pages, generating leads for you.

So what about setting up your own domain and pointing it to your marketing system? Not a problem, for $10 or so, you buy a domain and then forward it to your marketing system URL.

This won’t cause any SEO problems for my new domain, right? Well, “it depends”.

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SEO your WordPress images

Although advances have been made in this area, you should assume that an image to a search engine looks like unreadable code. So what you need to do to surround the image with hints on what the image might be about. This gives you another opportunity to add your primary and secondary keywords to your page.

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