Archive for the ‘ SEO ’ Category

SEO Infographic: What my friends think I do and What I really do

SEO Infographic - What my friends think I do, what my mom thinks I do, What I think I do, What society thinks I do, What i really do

I saw this on Facebook and thought it was too funny not to share. Photo credit via Alex Sczakiel.

SEO – What my friends think I do, What my mom thinks I do, What I think I do, What society thinks I do, and What I really do.

In defense of Ranking Reports

Today Matt Cutts posted a Google Webmaster Help video on the topic of ranking reports, which is embedded above. In it, Matt states that rather than obsessing over your rankings, focus on converting more users. I completely agree that it all comes down to conversions, and that one shouldn’t obsess over rankings, but the video seems to imply you shouldn’t report on rankings altogether, and that monitoring rankings for your most important (“trophy”) keywords is a bad use of your time. It also seems to imply that ranking reports are really just an annoying thing that “disagreeable” clients request.

Whether that implication was intentional or not, I do feel ranking reports still have their place in SEO reporting. Here’s why:

  • Ranking reports are a good proxy for overall SEO health – are you not able to rank for any of your keywords? Did you have a bunch of rankings that went away over night? Did you make a change and gain a bunch of rankings? Movements in rankings can tell you a lot about what is going on in a macro level – maybe those changes IT made to the site really helped (or hurt) your website’s ability to rank for your most important keywords.
  • Keywords matter to managers – like it or not, most managers are interested in what keywords their site ranks for, and they use this information to help justify SEO budgets. While it shouldn’t be your only data point, it almost always is a data point that managers want to know about (even the non-disagreeable ones). In my opinion, the more data, the better, and keyword ranking information is data.
  • They don’t take much time to create – in the video, Matt states that creating ranking reports might not be the best use of your time. There are many tools that create ranking reports automatically, and most also allow export into Excel for you to manipulate the data quickly. If you’re investing time into SEO, and already paying for premium tools such as SEOmoz, why not take advantage of automated ranking reports?
  • They help you understand your content strengths & weaknesses – if you have crappy content, it (usually) won’t rank well. Looking at your under-performing keywords is a great way to figure out where to focus your content marketing & IT budgets to improve the weaker areas of your website. Likewise, knowing what keywords and areas of your site rank well will expose additional opportunity for related content (and keywords) you could create.
  • Trophy keywords can convert, too – while focusing on conversions is extremely important, if you aren’t ranking on Page 1, you probably aren’t going to get much traffic to convert in the first place. Having business-relevant first page rankings can earn you a lot of traffic, and then you can convert that traffic into sales. But if you’re not ranking for any keywords relevant to the products & services you’re selling, you’re not going to have as much opportunity to convert in the first place.
  • Ranking reports keep you informed of the competition – a good ranking report also includes how your top competitors are ranking for your most important keywords. Much like ranking reports give a good finger on the pulse of your site’s SEO, they also give you insights into your competitors SEO.
  • Ranking reports help you understand how search engines work – looking for patterns in your rankings, and how they change, can give you insights into algorithm changes. Ranking data can also help you understand differences between search engines such as why you might rank well in Bing but not Google for a certain phrase, or even looking at the granular level of Google (web search) rankings versus Google Places rankings.
  • Ranking reports let you know if the correct page is ranking – if you have an international site, and the Canadian version of the content is outranking the US version of the content for a US searcher, you’ve got a problem. Tracking not only rankings but landing page URLs will help you find problems with your site that is causing the wrong page to rank for a given keyword.

With personalization, and most recently Google Search Plus, rankings are less important to fixate over, which I think is what Matt is really trying to say. And while it is important to de-emphasize the importance of ranking reports, and understand rankings are for the “average user” and not representative of personalized results, it’s still important to collect this information and have it at your disposal…it can tell you a lot, and it’s something that still matters to both the SEO and the business manager.

Initial Thoughts on Google Search Plus (Your World)

I think Ben Parr puts it better than I could on his latest blog post: The Google+ Antitrust Disaster:

“The move was something that I expected, but I don’t think anybody expected the integration to be so massive. You can’t browse Google without seeing Google+ everywhere.”

I agree. Search Plus is fine in theory, and Google SHOULD integrate social and Google+ into its algorithm, but this particular implementation by Google is overkill, and that’s an understatement. +1’s dominate the algorithm to a point beyond logic or usefulness. The ads for people to circle are way too pushy. It’s just way too much.

Danny Sullivan points out some great example as to how Search Plus sacrifices relevancy for social noise/promotion of Google+ in his post here:

But what hit home more than anything was a simply vanity search. I google “Nick Roshon” and here is the SERP:

Nick Roshon SERP Result

My own website no longer ranks above the fold for my name…wow. It’s a three year old site with a couple thousands links, PageRank 3, and an exact match domain. My Google+ profile is a few months old at most, and the only links to it are from my website itself…I can’t help but nod my head in agreement with those crying foul that Google is giving itself an special treatment in the SERPs, as from an SEO perspective there is no way my website should rank below Google+ and images I’ve shared on Google+.

On one hand, I totally understand & believe in the need for search results that are better informed by social connections and social data. However, Search Plus takes this idea to an extreme, where the link graph and standard notions of relevancy are being drowned out by even the faintest social signal. Even worse, the Search Plus Your World results are shown by default for all searches (rather than triggered algorithmically when it makes sense, or even better defaulted to off and turned on selectively by users when appropriate). There is no way to escape Google+ in the new Google Search Plus.

I think the experiment Google did in Google Labs back in January 2010 which displayed “Results from your social circle” was an example of how they could have done Search Plus well. This experiment (which never graduated beta status in Labs) displayed a small onebox within the SERPS showing a handful of results recently shared by those in your social connections.

Instead, Search Plus (Your World) isn’t a small onebox, it’s a full-on takeover of the SERP.

It’s a risky move by Google, as it drastically changes Google’s renowned search results in favor of an entirely new experience focused around Google+. While the general public, as well as search experts, typically believe Google has better results than Bing, I wonder how this will change with Google Search Plus, as it’s such a fundamental change in the search results that Google barely seems familiar anymore. I still think the average user hasn’t a faintest clue what Google+ is or why they should use it, which should make an even more confusing experience for those searchers…and those searchers are likely the first to leave.

My guess is that Google will scale back Search Plus drastically, and turn down the overwhelmingly powerful ranking factors powered by Google+ and Google products in favor of a more egalitarian and comprehensive view at relevance and authority. Or I guess that’s my hope, anyway…

Content Sharing Infographic

content sharing infographic

Make your content as easy to share as ice cream with a puppy – cute & funny, but very true.

All your rankings are belong to us

Larry Page & Sergey Brin

Undoubtedly the best photo of Larry Page & Sergey Brin ever.

Google & Bing Disagree On Rel=Canonical Implementation

Google vs Bing Rel=Canonical

Bing recently posted an article:  Managing redirects – 301s, 302s and canonicals

As someone that works with Enterprise level sites on a regular basis, I deal with duplicate content & the canonical tag a lot. What really jumped out in Duanne’s article is this (emphasis added is my own):

Something else you need to keep in mind when using the rel=canonical is that it was never intended to appear across large numbers of pages.  We’re already seeing a lot of implementations where the command is being used incorrectly.  To be clear, using the rel=canonical doesn’t really hurt you.  But, it doesn’t help us trust the signal when you use it incorrectly across thousands of pages, yet correctly across a few others on your website.

A lot of websites have rel=canonicals in place as placeholders within their page code.  Its best to leave them blank rather than point them at themselves.  Pointing a rel=canonical at the page it is installed in essentially tells us “this page is a copy of itself.  Please pass any value from itself to itself.  No need for that.

This surprised me as it contradicts what we’ve been told by Google, and also contradicts my opinions on best practices for the canonical tag. I have a deep respect for Duanne, so I’m only raising this as an issue because the rel=canonical tag is supposed to be jointly supported by Google & Bing, yet we’re getting very different direction on how it should be used.

For instance, in this Google Webmaster Help video (H/T to James Constable for the link), Matt Cutts says “it doesn’t hurt to have this on every page of your site.”

Likewise, in the Google Blog, Maile Ohye of Google says “Yes, it’s absolutely okay to have a self-referential rel=”canonical”. It won’t harm the system and additionally, by including a self-reference you better ensure that your mirrors have a rel=”canonical” to you.”

Further evidence Google says its okay to have both a self-referential rel=canonical tag as well as to use the canonical tag site-wide can be found in this SEOmoz post, as well as another Google Webmaster Help video from Matt Cutts saying its okay.

I asked some of the top SEO minds on Twitter as to their opinion, and they all seem to support the notion that is okay to use the canonical tag site-wide and include self-referential canonical tags. Here are their responses:

 @Thos003: I use rel=canonical on it’s own page to deal with URL strings. I find this article disturbing

@rbucich: of course you can! Either I don’t understand the question or the person who said no doesn’t

@ajkohn: Yes. I think rel=canonical is a safeguard for HTML barnacles that might attach themselves to the canonical URL.

@james_constable: YES it needs to for all ad tracking, parameter non sense you need to avoid dups.

@dannysullivan: i wasn’t aware this was a problem. i guess i don’t see that it is. google said it wasn’t

@halvorsen I do.

So, it seems were at an impasse – what are your thoughts – is it okay to use the rel=canonical tag sitewide? Is it okay to use the rel=canonical tag on the canonical version of the page?

Will you change your recommendations to clients (or your own sites) on how they should use the rel=canonical tag based on Bing’s latest blog post?

Your comments are appreciated.

**Update @MattCutts chimes in:

@nickroshon certainly it won’t mess things up with Google to do it on every page. Can’t speak for MSFT/Bing, of course. (link)

@nickroshon self-loops on canonical pages are fine. Otherwise you’re stuck doing per-page logic for every page; not fun. (link)

Matt Cutts tweets back

**Update 2: This post has gotten some great conversation going, and also picked up by a few other sites, so I wanted to link out to that as well. It appears the SEO community finds this to be an important issue, and it’s obvious duplicate content is the thorn in everyone’s side…thanks to all that have shared my post!

How Brands Can Leverage Authorship Markup

Google Authorship Markup for Brands

Today on the Great Finds blog my colleague Matt Gagen and I discuss Google’s Authorship Markup tag, and how and why brands should implement this markup tag when it becomes available. On my personal blogs I’ve already implemented the Authorship Markup, although sadly Google still hasn’t recognized it yet even four weeks after implementation. My guess is that Authorship Markup is still in a “beta” phase but I expect it to make a big impact to the SERP in the near future, especially when Google+ becomes available to brands. Check out a brief preview of the post below, then click below to read the post in its entirety on

In June, Google announced support forAuthorship Markup. This exciting development, overlooked by many, could create huge opportunities for brands and individuals to claim their content, see improvements in click-through rates, integrate their owned media more effectively with social, and possibly improve their search rankings.

Members of Google’s web spam team are excited about the potential of this markup to help improve search results. But the initial support of this new markup has one big drawback: Google is not supporting brands that embrace Authorship Markup. Nevertheless, brands need to embrace Authorship Markup especially at a time when brands must think like publishers of useful content to succeed.

Read the full post here: Why Brands Must Claim Their Own Content with Google Authorship Markup

***Update: My Authorship Markup is now being recognized for my car blog (although not for this blog or my travel blog). This indicates to me that Google is definitely giving preference to higher traffic blogs and trigger this markup on a case-by-case basis, and not to just anyone who marks up their site hoping for a pretty snippet in the SERP. Anyway, check it out!

Authorship markup Nick Roshon



How Bing Could Own 40% Of the Search Market

In my latest post on the iCrossing Great Finds blog, I talk about how a partnership between Firefox & Bing could lead to a substantial gain in search market share for Bing, as well as a huge money maker for Firefox. Check out a short excerpt below, then head over to the Great Finds blog to read more!

Brands that invest in search engine marketing pay close attention to the market share of search engines like Google and Bing to inform their search spend. Hence search practitioners closely review monthly market share reports like this one – a process akin to watching grass grow given that market shares change by a fraction of a percent at most each month.

But recently a partnership with Yahoo! allowed Bing to increase its market share significantly (although mostly at the expense of Yahoo!). Soon Mozilla’s Firefox may force marketers to re-examine their search spend. A contract between Firefox and Google – which makes Google the default search engine for the Firefox browser – is set to expire in November 2011.

If Bing takes advantage of this situation by supplanting Google as the default Firefox browser, Bing could end up owning about 40 percent of the search market.

Read more over at Great Finds

I’m not a Google Hater…

I’ve had a few posts about Google recently that were somewhat critical. I think it surprised people given how highly I’ve spoken of Google in the past…one friend even went as far as to call me a “Google Hater.”

I thought I’d clear the air – I’m not a Google hater. 

On the contrary, I’m still a Google lover. Here are just a few of the reasons why:

  • They have the best search engine bar none
  • They have the best advertising product/platform
  • Gmail is great (although I also use Hotmail)
  • Chrome is a pretty slick browser
  • Google Maps is light years better than MapQuest or Bing Maps
  • I’d love to get a Chromebook
  • I use an Android phone and think its a great product, although it’s no iPhone
  • Their story & company mission are admirable & inspiring

I have plenty of love for (most) Google products. 

Read more

Google lauches City Pages and Additional Local Search Features

In my latest post on the iCrossing Great Finds blog, I talk about Google’s latest efforts at improving local search and driving more visitors to to Google Places Pages. The Local Search game is getting very interesting! Here is a brief excerpt, head over to the iCrossing blog for more!

Local businesses take note: Google has begun to roll out City Pages for select cities, currently including PortlandAustinSan Diego and Madison, Wisconsin, and has indicated plans to roll out these pages to more cities soon. Google also launched a number of updates to local search as announced at its Inside Searchpress conference this week. These developments are crucial to anyone who runs a local business or is in charge of marketing for national companies with local franchises. This post explains what you need to know to improve your local search visibility in Google.

Read more here

15 Takeaways from the Google Webmaster Live Chat with Matt Cutts

Over at the iCrossing Great Finds blog I talk about a recent Live Chat with Google’s Matt Cutts, and some takeways that search marketers can use to learn more about SEO as well as become better communicators with Google. Check out the brief excerpt below, then head over to the iCrossing blog for more!

Today Matt Cutts, head of Google’s webspam team, hosted the first-ever live broadcast ofGoogle Webmaster Central on YouTube. For those of us lucky enough to be able to tune into the broadcast (it was announced on short notice), Matt shared some great takeaways about search engine optimization (SEO), how to communicate with Matt Cutts, and Google in general. Here are some takeaways about Matt, Google, and SEO.

Read more…

Jalopnik’s Cruel April Fools Joke


Today is a April Fools – and the joke played by Jalopnik “Say Hello to Autoblognik and Goodbye to Me” struck a chord with me. It’s actually a decent premise for an April Fools joke – they claim they were acquired by Aol. (who has been on an acquisition binge of mainstream blogs) and that Aol. was going to re-do the site. The problem with this joke is that many formerly loyal readers of Jalopnik like myself would LOVE for this to happen.

Jalopnik used to be my favorite blog on the internet. I’d visit it 4-5 times a day, chat with my car buddies about it (“did you see that post on Jalopnik today? OMG it was awesome…”), and I was generally what you could call a Jalopnik fan-boy.

When the redesign of all Gawker Media sites launched a few months ago, Ray Wert pleaded to readers to be patient and try to get used to it – I did my best, visiting each day and trying to force myself to like it, or at least try to understand why they did it.

Read more