It doesn’t help. At least not directly. Does that surprise you? Why then, you might be asking, does each SEO article you read about meta tags strongly recommend that you have meta description tags on each page of your website? Because SEO shouldn’t be your only focus when improving your website. And it is true that meta description tags may help your site perform better in the search engine results, albeit indirectly.
Google has ramped up the fight against online piracy by putting more teeth into how it addresses copyright issues and violations. Content stealing and scraping (including images and video) is all too common on the web, up to now the main tool Google offered was the ability to file a DMCA takedown request. A DMCA takedown request, if deemed valid had the potential of removing the offending web page from Google’s index, but did not impact the rest of the site. That has now changed.
Hollywood has long criticized (and sued) Google for not doing enough to protect original content from being stolen and copied. Hollywood in particular hates YouTube. Of course, in this author’s humble opinion, Hollywood doesn’t help its case by clinging to the old dated notion that one needs to have cable to get the latest shows. Perhaps if it made more content legitimately available on the web; via Netflix, Amazon and Hulu, the piracy problem would get better. This cartoon from the Oatmeal sums it up perfectly. I too would love to watch the Game of Thrones series and I’m willing to pay a one time cost for it, but I am definitely not willing to resubscribe to premium cable just for the privilege. I was also rather appalled at the amount of ads (on every page refresh!) NBC made you sit through after paying to stream the Olympics online.
That being said, copyright violations is a real problem for bloggers as I have blogged about previously. I’ve also written an article on how to use images in your blog without violating copyright.
Now DMCA takedowns will have more impact, on August 10, 2012 Google announced on its blog that “valid copyright removal notices” will become a new signal for its rankings. What does this mean? As is typical for Google, the announcement is vague on the details, but if your website receives “enough” (the number is undetermined) DMCA notices from Google, the entire site will start rank lower in Google’s search results pages. So no longer is just one page affected, your entire site can be impacted by the notices. The idea, of course, is that the worst offenders will no longer rank as well as the original content.
As usual the answer is not black and white. It certainly doesn’t work as well as an SEO tactic as it used to. Panda devalued most if not all article marketing directories, so consequently they don’t rank as well and for fewer keywords. Most SEO firms will tell you that guest posting is the new article marketing and to not bother with article marketing at all. But is Article Marketing completely dead? No, depending on your competition and your keyword it’s still an easy way to get some exact match anchor text links to your site, and for some narrow niches that can be enough. It’s certainly better than buying links.
But before you rush out and create a bunch of articles and upload them to every article directory you can find, you might want to read through a case study I recently did exposing article marketing’s dirty little secret. When I was recently studying a client’s backlink profile who had lost traffic due to Google’s Penguin I started noticing what people had done with articles from these directories. So I took it one step further and did a small case study on what happens to the articles once they are published.
With Google’s increased focus on linkspam with the Penguin release, a periodic review and pruning of your site’s backlinks is now a must do.
Your backlink profile may hold unpleasant surprises. All too often, web site owners have no clue what kind of links a past SEO company may have built for them. I’ve found gaming sites and even porn lurking in the backlink profile of a website whose owner would be horrified to be associated with. Even if you never have outsourced to a link building service or used link building software – that link building that you did 5 years ago, that seemed fine at the time, might be a problem waiting to happen – even if you haven’t had a problem with Penguin yet.
To understand one reason why it would be useful, let’s examine how page rank is typically assigned to a website. Keep in mind this is an oversimplification of how Google actually works, but it’s useful as a model. Let’s say your site has been assigned a page rank of 5, that means it has 5 points to distribute to all its pages. So if there are 5 links on the home page each link would get 1 point. Now let’s say that page also has 5 links, each of those links would get 1/5 of a 1 point. So what’s the takeaway from this? That the more clicks it takes to get to a given page, the less value Google and the other search engines assign to it.
Google changes have been coming fast and furious. Over the last few months:
For choosing your blog titles, here’s the advice I’m sure you’ve heard:
If 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.
Fair 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.
For 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.