Tag Archives: seo

SEO Intralinking Strategy for Blogging

10 Aug

So, your SEO maven hooked you up with optimized landing pages, but they’re relatively orphaned. (Nobody’s linking to them much, not even you, from your own site.) Should you link to them from your other site pages, like from your blog? Yes. …And no.

Intralinking Case Study (Hypothetical)

Keyword: blue widget

SEO Landing page: …/blue-widget/

Obviously, you mention “blue widget” on other pages too. (If you don’t, get on that. You’ll never rank for a keyword if you only mention it on one page; Google can quickly suss that you’re trying to game the system by optimizing a single page for a keyword.)

Are you selling widgets? Presumably, you have one or more “blue widget” product pages, too, whether or not you’ve opted to make them text-rich pages. (Content is king. Your product pages should be troves of information, but unfortunately some brand identities don’t allow for that.)

So you blog.

You should blog. Be an expert in your field, publicly, often.

You mention blue widgets in a blog. …Hell, you write a blog post about blue widgets. You’ve used several variations on your core “blue widget” keyword in that blog. How can you best use those keyword iterations as link anchor text to other content on your site?

Head to Google.com.

Type this in the Google search field:

site:[yoursite.com] [the keyword you’re trying to boost]

…Swapping for your domain and your keyword for the [bits in brackets].

Screenshot_2Hit Enter on your keyboard.

Screenshot_1Or click “Google Search”

Or the little magnifying glass icon.

e.g. site:dandreifort.com SEO
gets you a list Google’s favorite SEO themed pages on this site, in order. (Top is best!)

If your blue widget SEO landing page is new, it probably won’t be toward the top of that list yet. You should then definitely link to that blue widget landing page! But what if your landing page is #4 on the list, and a few of your product pages take the top three spots?

Keep it Natural

Sometimes, link to the blue widget landing page. Sometimes link to one of the product pages. We want to tell Google that our whole stinking site (or at least considerable chunks of it) are good pages for them to consider for blue widget Google search results.

So, I should link to several pages from my blog?

Maybe a couple. Sometimes just one. With rare exceptions, I highly recommend against linking to a single resource multiple times from a single page. But similarly, don’t pack your blog post full of links to every related product and page.

Why?

It’s hamfisted. If your content is overstuffed with links, people can quickly see that; they’ll likely feel like they’re being “advertised at” so to speak. …Google’s even more keen at that assessment; Google knows when you’re stuffing all of your content with links. Keep it natural. (Somewhere between zero links and ‘too many’ links, on average—that’s your goal.)

Anchor Text Variation

Mix it up. Don’t always use “blue widget” verbatim to anchor the link to your other “blue widget” content. “Our blue-tinted widgets…” is fine anchor text. Do you use a synonym for “widget”? (whatever your ‘widget’ is!) Using that synonym as part of anchor text is a great idea! Not everybody searches the same way, and the more ways you’re able to describe your products, the better.

In short:

  1. Be aware of your keywords when you’re blogging.
  2. Note that not every blog needs to link to your own content, but if you’re a brand-strong blog, and that works for you, (lucky,) you can err on the side of always linking to your own supporting content.
  3. site:yoursite your keyword – is the syntax to find out what pages Google likes already. Don’t fight Google, just nudge them.
  4. Don’t always link to the same page; pick a few to regularly reinforce.
  5. Mix up the anchor text, too, if it makes sense.

 

Dan Dreifort consults on SEO and UX. He also likes making noise with other musicians.

The ABCs of SEO for 2016

28 Mar

I’ve seen a few articles titled ‘The ABCs of SEO’, but most of them either continue on to the DEFs and trudge all the way through Z, or ditch the metaphor altogether after the headline. Dear SEO reader, that’s not me; I won’t do that to you.

My understanding of “The ABCs” gels with the definition:

plural noun:
the rudiments of a subject.
“the ABCs of emergency heart-lung resuscitation”

One might add to the summary-fun by sticking to three topics starting with letters A, B, and C. …Which also lends itself to “legs of the SEO stool” and various “triangles are the strongest shapes” and “3 is the magic number” tropes, too. Sure, let’s do it!

  • A is for Algorithm
    Yes, this starts us off on a weird foot, but you have to start with “A” and Google’s algorithmic whims rule the roost. Ignore seemingly silly phrases like “Penguin update” & “Panda update” at your SEO’s peril. …We’ll stick some of SEO’s other technical bits in this category, too. CMS platforms, hosting, microdata, valid code, etc. They, and many other elements, play a part in the Google algorithm.
  • B is for Backlinks
    A website can’t thrive in a vacuum. Googlebot is a web crawler. Crawlers follow links. If nobody’s linking to you, Google knows. Similarly, when many authoritative sites link to yours, Google knows. Oh, and Google cares! Social Networking and other engagement fits nicely here, too. It’s all about the connections. …Well the B-section is all about connections. But shouldn’t that fall under “C“? No. Don’t get confused.
  • C is for Content
    Content is king. Let’s type it again. Content is king. (That first link is better, though.) A client once wanted me to optimize their site without changing or adding any text. That relationship didn’t last long. Fresh, interesting, relevant content–unless you’re lucky enough to find a weird niche–SEO can’t thrive without it. Keyword research falls under this “C” umbrella, too. You can’t have good SEO content without appropriate keywords.

SEO ABCs Epilogue

There is no D in the ABCs of SEO

D is for Design

Haute designers usually loathe SEO best practices because SEO cares little about bleeding edge design, and design best practices often spit in the face of SEO efforts. Sometimes, emphasis on design goes hand-in-hand with the sentiment that “lots of text doesn’t look good.” That’s not un-true; optimized content usually isn’t sexy. …But it helps us rank better.

I wrote this post today because I whipped up a small section thereof in response to a first look at a client’s new site mockup. It’s pretty, and they’re paying a lot for it, from a big name. …Which is why I fear they’ll make my SEO work harder in the near future. No matter. SEO gets harder every year with or without their “help” 😉 I advise. We carry on.

It’s a dance. Pick your priorities and get good advice. Start with the ABCs of search engine optimization.

 

Dan Dreifort consults on UX and SEO. He accepts no more than six new clients per year. His client waiting list is mercifully short right now, but for some reason, he doesn’t make it really easy to contact him.

Firing SEO Clients

27 Nov
yourefired

Try to say, “President Trump” without gagging.

I’ve blogged about canning clients before (because of payment and/or privacy problems,) but this recent blog post by Marvin Russell made me want to do it again!

I accept up to four clients every year. I don’t accept every potential client, and because I have the luxury of excellent word-of-mouth, I seldom respond to RFPs and the like.

I’m picky about who I work for.

Six qualities I look for in a potential SEO client:

  1. Quickly groks what I do, the pace, etc. Can I quickly shape their expectations?
  2. ROI-minded, with the data/analytics to back it up. Or empowers me to quickly set it up!
  3. Willing to sign boilerplate mutual NDA.
  4. Big enough to potentially benefit from my minimum monthly retainer, currently six hundred and fifty bucks. I don’t like wasting money.
  5. Eschews unneeded gloss and superfluous meetings/conference calls. Appreciates concise communication and reporting. Doesn’t want excess overhead.
  6. Provides communication conduit to fast decision-makers in the organization, so great plans don’t linger in development hell. Am I talking to somebody who can affect change?

Though they passed that top-six litmus test with flying colors, I encountered problems with two clients over the past couple of years. Both were related to other third-parties on the clients’ marketing teams.

Please, won’t you tell me about your wonderful web/branding team?

The first problem was an unresponsive, and then slow web team. After six months of hair-pullingly frustrating non-progress, I threatened to quit. Client finally whipped their web team into shape and it’s been (mostly) smooth sailing ever since. I look forward to their switch to a new developer and CMS in the near future.

The second, more recent problem, was when a client’s branding agency communicated poorly and repeatedly wasted my time.

The branding agency wasn’t willing to communicate via email and only scheduled phone calls in four daily time slots via a web calendar app. Good luck finding a conveniently timed opening in their tiny schedule! “Can you squeeze a five minute call in? Just call me any time, all day!” Nope. Only four a day.

The last straw: they missed a call I managed to schedule. When I called them out on it and asked for demanded other lines of communication, they finally started responding to email, by calling me “unprofessional” and defending their (lack of) communication, saying it was typical of agencies. (I work with several agencies. These jokers were the worst, by far.)

They got nastier. I told the client, “I’d rather have my dignity than the aggravation and money. I won’t work with them.” (The branding agency is in Dallas. That’s all you’ll get from me!)

Rough Ride to a Happy Ending

That client now insulates me from the branding agency’s bad mojo. When taking the branding agency’s advice lead to a >90% drop in organic sales, the client quickly reverted to the old site and told the branding agency to act on my recommendations. Rankings, traffic and sales recovered. I don’t think that agency will be in the picture much longer.

I’m glad it worked out.
I like all of my clients. That’s the idea.

Though I’ve come close, I haven’t fired a client since my first and only firing, the one mentioned at the beginning of this blog post. #gettingbetter

Social SEO is Here

7 Oct
Google Plus might not be popular with people, but it's important to SEO.

Google Plus might not be popular with people, but it’s important for SEO.

Social 101 for the SEO-minded Company

SEO practitioners have seen the writing on the wall for years. If you really care about ranking well in Google, now it’s past time to pay attention to social. Almost two months ago we learned empirically that more +1 on Google+ means better ranking in Google.

I’ve spent a couple of years hinting to my clients that they should pay more attention to social; now I’m *strongly* suggesting it by outlining a few simple steps they can take (or I can take for them) in the social realm.

Step 1: More Social Outlets

Google Plus is a must. People don’t use it, but Google relies on it for organic rankings, so your organization should use it. If you want to pick your battles and only use three outlets, pick Facebook and Twitter too. But why stop there? It’s so easy to work once and have it propagate to multiple outlets.

Step 2: Maximize Social Efforts

Use Hootsuite or similar services to make social management easy. Type once and your words post on all of your social sites at once. With tools like this there’s no excuse for not also posting on sites like LinkedIn, YouTube and the like.

You can even schedule your content to post at specific times allowing you to compress a portion of your social time investment while taking advantage of peak social interaction times to get your message seen more. Hootsuite is free, and if you’re lucky enough to outgrow the gratis version, it’s only nine bucks a month to upgrade.

Step 3: Encourage Website Visitors to Share

While many sites already sport social icons linking to their Facebook page, that’s not enough. We want a more usable page that enables our web audience to use their social networks to vote and share. Employ action icons like Google’s “+1” to let visitors make note of your specific content. Some might use a +1 as a social bookmark, others as an endorsement. Either way, we like it because Google uses it to rate webpages.

Step 4: Search for Social Engagement #

Hashtags (#) are your friend. Naturally, you should use them in your social posts to tag and categorize your content, but there’s more! Type “#hashtag” (without the quotes) into Facebook’s search bar and you’ll get a list of all posts tagged with #hashtag. But how is that useful?

An acting school might search for #audition and then comment on a post or two every week. A luggage shipping company might search for #lostluggage. A local business might search for people discussing an upcoming local event totally unrelated to their business and then share excitement about it. Etc.

Step 5: Follow for Social Engagement

Have you ever heard of the reward theory of attraction? You can follow that link, or trust me when I say that if you follow others, they might follow you too. This ties in well with hashtag searching. You can’t comment on EVERY related post you find, because that looks spammy, creepy and annoying. Instead, follow people and businesses who are posting about stuff relevant to you. …They’ll be more likely to follow you. Wikipedia says so.

Don’t lay it on too thick

Finally, the overlying/underlying philosophy here is that while social is going to help your other marketing efforts, most of the time, you should not wear your traditional marketing cap while you’re engaging with social networks. When you meet somebody on the street and they try to sell you something, how do you feel? Who wants to follow somebody who’s always talking about themselves? Well, some people do, but you’ll find the people with the most engagement aren’t exclusively self-promoting. Sometimes replying, “ugh!” or “I know, right?!” to share frustration, or asking a question, “How do you find out about _____?” or “Why?” will be more valuable than posting about something more related to your business. Remember: your business name is next to everything you post, so you can just lean on that!

This article only scratches the surface of social best practices, but follow these instructions and your social efforts will be well on their way to helping your search engine optimization.

Dan Dreifort consults on usability, SEO, and now social. If you ask nicely, he might let you subscribe to his private and otherwise unadvertised SEO/usability/social tips email list. …But maybe not.

Looking for the best Hawaii digital marketing agency

8 Jul Hawaii Destination Marketing SEO and a Beach

I fired a Hawaii marketing agency a couple of months ago. I was not a client. I’d been providing usability and SEO services to their clients since 2007. (Does that mean I quit?) I grew online business for a few of their big-name clients and received decent money for it. Everybody at the agency was polite and skilled. So why did I fire them? Throughout the six-year engagement they paid several hundred invoices, but rarely on time. I fired them because they regularly forced me to act as an accountant and a collections agent.

Glutton For Digital Media Agency Punishment

Hawaii Destination Marketing SEO and a Beach

I heart Hawaii !

A few weeks later I was approached by another Hawaii digital marketing outfit. I’m not hungry for work now, but with so much SEO and usability experience in the Hawaii destination and hospitality verticals, part of me wants to put that knowledge to good use. So when this new agency reached out to me, I engaged.

I insist on signing a mutual non-disclosure agreement with all clients. The NDA serves to protect any private information and ostensibly allows us to discuss anything without worry of public eyes and ears. After a month of wasting my time, this new agency today tells me, “We can’t sign this.” I tried to identify and fix the perceived problem, but after receiving a couple more obtuse emails, I eventually jabbed, “I take my clients’ privacy very seriously. If [Agency] doesn’t respect that, we’re obviously not a good match.” I sent a friendly “goodbye” note to his partner.

I assure you I won’t be communicating with them again unless we agree about privacy.

What I’ve learned:

  • Fool me once, shame on, um… how does that go, George Bush? Fire clients more quickly if/when they’re late with payments.
  • Don’t invest too much speculative time with clients until they agree to protect privacy.
  • I’d again like to help a Hawaii company or agency with search engine optimization and user experience.
  • I *still* don’t like time-wasters.
Dan Dreifort‘s current clients include: Product recommendation SaaS company, Plastic container manufacturer/retailer, Adjustable air-mattress retailer/manufacturer, Memory foam mattress manufacturer/retailer, Specialty shipping company, Brazilian jiu jitsu franchises, Tourist magazine, Childcare franchises, Acting school, Real estate brokers, Lawyer, Fence manufacturer/retailer, Online drug rehab center and a couple more. Dan is busy and can’t accept new work until January, 2014.

How is responsive design connected to SEO? It’s mobile.

3 May
the long tail of search

Image by Victoria Jones

Follow the money and you’ll find that hot trends in design and search engine optimization are tied to our shrinking technology.  What’s in your pocket?

This mobile, responsive design, SEO and the long tail article originally appeared on the Geekly Group blog. (Thanks, Archive.org for the save!) (This article is from May 2013.)

The Tale of the Long Tail Search

And Why You Should Have Implemented Responsive Design Years Ago

My latest pocket toy, (a 5th generation iPod Touch), is great at taking dictation. I’ve already carefully enunciated two emails into its microphone today. Because I usually work from home and I’m one of the strange beasts to still use a landline. The iPod is my tiny window into the mobile world.

I also have a mobile phone, but while I don’t often lean on my Android, I recognize that more people are using their mobile devices to search for goods and services. I help companies harness this mobile traffic with responsive design, long-tail keywords and other engagement strategies. The ROI is huge, but it can be a tough sell– unless you have the data to back it up.

The Mobile Traffic Writing is on the Wall & the Font is Getting Bigger!

A few years ago I told a mid-market e-tail client that mobile devices and tablets would soon account for the majority of their traffic and business. I said something like, “Time to think about responsive design lest we alienate the fastest growing segment of consumers.” Instead, this client decided that its core demographic (married women over 35) didn’t (and wouldn’t) purchase or research expensive household products on handheld devices any time soon.

I disagreed.

Without a Mobile Crystal Ball, Let Data Make Smart Decisions For You.

The next year I was able to turn to the data. I pointed out that the company’s mobile bounce rate was higher than that of the overall site average.  When I again suggested it would be best to use a responsive website design to encourage mobile users to engage, the company decided instead to modify its PPC campaigns.

“Don’t address mobile. Ignore it!” was the company mantra. “Who would use a phone to search for luxury goods?!” They stopped serving ads to mobile devices.

In February 2010, only 5% of this company’s site traffic came from handheld devices. By May 2012 that traffic source had grown to 36%. Shortly thereafter they stopped advertising to mobile devices. By March 2013, phones, tablets and iPods accounted for 45% of their traffic. This is remarkable!  Why?  Because they’d specifically and actively tried to alienate those consumers.

So what happened?  The client finally embraced responsive web design. When I juxtaposed the previously mentioned 45% figure with a random sample of a few other sites’ analytics data, it was easy to see that married women over 35 (or whoever their demographic really was) actually used mobile devices more than the average person.

It took a few years and some good data but this company will soon offer a website that will be attractive, usable and engaging regardless of screen size. Lower mobile bounce rates and higher conversion rates are sure to follow.

But engagement is only part of a successful mobile strategy. Customers must find you, before you can engage them.

How Do Mobile Traffic Trends Affect SEO?

A few years ago we searched with our fingers on a keyboard attached to a PC or laptop.  In a few more years, we’ll probably just think about our searches to get things started via a subdermal implant.  In the meantime, we’ve begun talking to our devices.

With the advent of Apple’s Siri, Dragon Dictation and Android-based virtual assistants like Vlingo and Skyvi, more of us are speaking our search phrases than ever before. These new technologies are leading to increasing numbers of “conversational-style” searches, or long tail searches. This interesting combination of conversational search phrases and guttural caveman-like searches performed in noisy environments means that the long tail of SEO keywords is now more meaningful than ever.

Pair this new human side of search trends with the ongoing semantic efforts of search engines like Google and Bing and it’s a welcome perfect storm for wisely managed SEO campaigns. Use great traffic research tools to identify slightly longer, more specific search phrases and you’ll find your ROI going through the roof.  And you’ll live happily ever after…at least until everybody else catches on.

Keyword Research Alternatives to SEOmoz and Wordtracker?

7 Mar SEOmoz results

Research is the smart first step when starting a new SEO campaign or growing an existing SEO effort. I talk with clients to brainstorm a few keyword ideas and then feed those seed keywords into tools to find related keywords. Then, ideally, I look at  traffic and competition metrics to identify low hanging fruit of the long tail and other gems in the rough. (Per previous whiny posts,) Wordtracker (wordtracker.com) lost my business a while ago, but SEOmoz (seomoz.org) is just as frustrating.

Every single bit of keyword research I’ve done on SEOmoz returns “unavailable” for these metrics:

  • Local Search Volume (Exact Match)
  • Global Monthly Search Volume (Exact Match)
  • Local Search Volume (Broad Match)
  • Global Monthly Search Volume (Broad Match)

…Leaving only one SEOmoz metric, “Keyword Difficulty” which also often returns the dreaded “unavailable” result.

Obfuscating Valuable SEO Metrics is a Poor (But Popular) Business Model

SEOmoz results

SEOmoz – Close to Useless.

What’s worse, this “Keyword Difficulty” metric is dumbed down so as to hide any real value. While I’m sure the two-digit SEOmoz Keyword Difficulty score (or the nearly identical two-digit “Competition” score from Wordtracker) in some fashion represents IAAT and other competition metrics, I am more than hesitant to base important keyword decisions on these vague scores. While I’m sure their scoring algorithms consider many factors, I’m accustomed to crafting my own meta-metrics. But pretend for a second that we do trust their “scores” – exactly how are we supposed to make intelligent decisions without good traffic data?

More frustrating still is the fact that SEOmoz limits us to five keywords at a time and always takes several minutes to return results. There’s nothing less satisfying that twiddling your thumbs waiting for a screen full of “unavailable”. Oh wait, there is – try paying $99 per month for the privilege. Yeah, it burns.

What Does SEOmoz Have to Say?

I posed these conundrums to SEOmoz and received a few responses.

Load times in the Keyword Difficulty tool can vary depending on the keyword(s) and time of day but generally, this shouldn’t be more that a minute or so. Cutting down on load times is also why we limit individual searches to 5 terms.

Sounds like a crappy Band-Aid to me. I ran into slow load times regardless of time of day and keywords.

Search volumes were pulled from the tool several months ago due to problems we were having with accuracy. So instead of taking the entire tool offline, we removed search volumes while we work on new metrics that we hope provide more valuable data. In the interim, I’d recommend checking out Google’s Keyword tool if you’re looking for search volumes.

What are the chances that somebody using SEOmoz doesn’t already know about the Google Keyword tool? And why did it take a trouble ticket for me to find out that this is a known issue? Ugh.

Although we don’t have a solid ETA at the moment for a release on the new metrics, we’ll definitely let everyone know via the community and blog.

I’ll ask them if they can just send me a note when they get it in gear. I don’t want to have to follow them on Twitter for five months to figure out that their ducks are all finally in a row. I asked if I could have a second free trial whenever they fix their tools, you know, so I don’t have to pay a hundred bucks to play with broken toys:

Unfortunately I can’t promise that since we don’t have an actual ETA on when the new metrics will be updated but I’d be happy to add a credit to the account for half off your next month if you’d like.

Paying $50 to test their patches wouldn’t be as bad, but it’s hardly ideal customer service.

What’s the best SEO Keyword Research Tool?

And just to be clear, I’m asking you. Sure, I can get all the data I need directly from Google, but it’s a time-consuming boondoggle. That’s why SEO professionals like me used to pay thousands of dollars every year to the likes of Wordtracker and SEOmoz. Alas, no more.

If I’m going to spend a couple grand a year for competition and traffic metrics, I expect better. What SEO tools do you recommend? If you know a coder looking to make a buck on a new creation, I’ll help him/her design a killer app for keyword research. All I ask in return? Please let me use it.

When not whining on this blog Dan Dreifort consults on Search Engine Optimization and Usability from his home. An avid musician, Dreifort is currently performing with four different bands and trying to form a fifth. Dan Dreifort is for scuba.

SEO Usability Vacuum

5 Nov

That SEO and usability don’t flourish in a vacuum has been on my mind lately. Sound doesn’t travel in a vacuum. If there’s nobody to hear your pearls of SEO wisdom do they make a sound? The sound of silence sends no sales. Four cases of constructive complaining follow.

Case #1 – Hire Experts + Stop Listening = Profit? No!

I helped grow a startup e-retailer from nothing to three million in annual sales. The company sold to new owners who kept me on for SEO services but took away my keys to the site because they wanted to do all web work in-house. No problem- I work this way (via intermediary) sometimes. Though I’d informed them of redesign best practices, they chose to ignore it all;  the hasty series of redesigns and half-rebrands erased years of SEO and usability progress. I spent a few months frantically trying to implement remedial measures but they heeded nothing I said or sent. We parted ways less than a year after the company switched hands. In a few short months they went from hero to zero in Google. Why would you spend good money on a company and then tank it? Conversely, the people who sold the company hired me to do SEO and usability work for a new endeavor. Its sales are growing. SEO and usability are processes, not events; they don’t exist in a vacuum.

Case #2 – Second Verse, Similar to the First, But Better Outcome!

seo results graph

SERP trends: often cyclical over longer periods

The chart to the right shows long-term cycles of a  different SEO effort, underfunded and unfortunately not paired with a good usability effort.  The company rakes in millions every year and would hugely benefit from doubling, tripling or quadrupling their SEO spend. I tell them this every year and sometimes spend time cobbling together metrics to back it up. …Which led to a smart realignment of the campaign scope a few years ago. The effort went from about 10% funding to 25% funding, but we’re still overreaching the budget. Part of the problem is the size of the company; they’re huge. Big boats don’t turn on a dime. A properly funded campaign would smooth out those valleys, and the peaks would be, literally, off the charts.

Because of a third-party payment solution, this client is also unable to give me ideal, actionable analytics data tying actual sales to each keyword. I’m left measuring the ranking of SERP listings, a comparatively bush-league measure of success. I’m also sometimes unable to appropriately geo-target longer tail search phrases (usually a good tactic in underfunded efforts) because most of the campaign consists of more competitive generic keywords. (They have their reasons, but it’s still frustrating. Good thing I like a challenge, and complaining!) I have neither budget nor latitude to increase the usability of landing pages so some of the most trafficked pages on the site lack a cohesive design with calls to action and good user direction. Though I know it’s not true, sometimes this client’s actions tell me they’re happier with countless second and third SERP rankings instead of focusing on the first SERP. My voice is necessarily muddled by the relative vacuum, but it’s getting better all the time and I’m still able to do some good work. I am optimistic.

Google SEO vs Bing and Yahoo SEO

SERP ranks different in Google Bing Yahoo

Eating crow in Bing and Yahoo is fine if you’re doing well in Google

This other graph for the same client, though only tenuously related, needed a place to live in the blogosphere. Many of the campaign’s most broad metrics have been sluggish, flat or even slowly tanking over the past year because they cover all three major search engines as a whole. The chart at right (click it for a larger version) shows that SERP listings have been tanking in Bing and Yahoo, while Google’s doing alright. My SEO work will often please Google more than Bing and Yahoo, and this account exhibits the extreme of that trend. Because Google is responsible for the vast majority of searches performed in the US, I’ve never wasted much effort focusing on the other search engines. So while I likely won’t get more budget to play with, I have a Q1 2013 plan to address some of the issues. Ping me in six months if you want an update.

Case #3 – SEO & Usability Are Processes, Not Events.

There’s a reason SEO practitioners display results in charts with various metrics in one axis and time in the other; SEO is a process, not an event. This next tale bit of complaining deals with the one-night stand of SEO gigs. It’s my first one and I feel dirty – too ashamed to post a picture because a filthy picture is worth a thousand guilty words.  Because of stipulations tied to the funding of this project I was informed that I had to complete all SEO work and training in one month. I interjected, “But….” Nope. One month. I could not get keys to the server so I sent over a long list of Drupal modules essential for SEO like nodewords, xml sitemap, seo-friendly urls, etc. After a month I was still left with a CMS that wouldn’t even allow me to insert title tags or descriptions. It’s been over three months and I’m just now getting close to the finish line. It would have been a huge payday for one month’s work, but I knew better. It’s still a decent payout for a third of a year, so I’m happy. I’ve educated and empowered the client enough to ensure continued SEO success in the future.

Case #4 – SEO & Usability Success!

Google Experiments

A/B/X Testing and Google Experiments = More Bang For Your Buck

Most of my clients do listen, especially those I hand pick (vs. clients from agencies.) Case in point, to compliment SEO efforts I’ve really been leaning on A/B/X testing and Google Experiments. I try to convey that people should not be making decisions about design, SEO, brand, etc. when we can actually measure our audience and do what works best for them. After all isn’t that what any organization wants? The results (and data) speak for themselves.

If you have a very usable site with poor SEO, people won’t find your site. If I use SEO to build your audience, but your website sucks, you’re not going to get as much bang for your SEO buck. Usability is the science of making things not suck. SEO makes search robots happy. Usability makes people happy. The marriage of the two equals high ROI. This last image (above) shows how one little four week experiment caused visitors to be twice as likely to convert into customers. It cost very little to run that experiment and it paid for itself in one day. The rest is gravy. That it’s difficult to convince companies to invest in SEO and usability never ceases to amaze me, but I won’t stop trying (or complaining.) Thanks for reading.

Dan Dreifort makes money for companies and reads. If people paid him to read more he might stop helping companies make so much money. He’s currently proofreading (and loving) a book called When the Biomass Hits The Wind Turbine. It’s available in self-published form from Amazon for a few more months before its re-released and becomes all famous and stuff on the Daily Show and whatever awful show Oprah’s doing these days.

xCommenter Bad for SEO – Bad for your site

25 Jul
spinning top

Spun content will inevitably tumble and fall.

Got an email from one of my contract coders today about a supposed SEO plugin for WordPress called xCommenter:

Hey Dan —
Ever heard of xCommenter wp-plugin?
https://vimeo.com/36628711
Just wondering what your opinion is on these sort of tools.

What is xCommenter? Will it help my site’s SEO?

xCommenter parses your post’s tags, title and content and then searches Yahoo Answers to find related questions. In an effort to improve your SEO, these questions are then periodically posted as comments to your blog post. Though it integrates with a popular article spinning service, my guess is this plugin will do more harm than good once Google catches up, if they haven’t already.

Here’s my reply:

Yikes! It’s fed by Yahoo Answers?! Have you SEEN Yahoo Answers? Garbage. Here’s a dramatization of my favorite Yahoo Answers content.

I suppose xCommenter *could* help SEO in the short term, but you should google “duplicate content penalty” to see how Google says this sort of thing can wreck you.

“There are some penalties that are related to the idea of having the same content as another site—for example, if you’re scraping content from other sites and republishing it, or if you republish content without adding any additional value. These tactics are clearly outlined (and discouraged) in our [Google] Webmaster Guidelines:” (source)

I suppose that when you pay the $77/yr fee and check the box next to “Spin comments with your TheBestSpinner.com account” in the xCommenter settings, in effect rewriting some content phrases, it might not be as big a deal, but something tells me Google is on the lookout for this sort of thing and will soon penalize the funk out of sites using xCommenter.

xCommenter is not the future of SEO

I will not be using xCommenter. Not only is it frowned upon by Google, (and will inevitably be penalized when Google figures out how to spot it, if they haven’t already,) xCommenter also cheapens your site. Use it if you’re a tripe peddler. I will scorn thee.

When he’s not making music, riding a bike, or dreaming about great food, Dan Dreifort consults on SEO and usability.

Advanced Web Ranking Here I Come

1 Dec
Scott Goodyear at the Indianapolis Motor Speed...

Image via Wikipedia – Not the Scott Goodyear I’m talking about, but it’s a Scott Goodyear nonetheless.

WebPosition’s old standalone version finally stopped querying Google correctly. I’m now in the process of switching to Advanced Web Ranking (AWR). Per my earlier post about finding a WebPosition replacement and some followup in the comments, AWR is the only solution to meet all of the critical SEO software criteria. I’m still apprehensive; it’s always a pain to switch to unfamiliar software, but my confidence is buoyed by the great email responses I’ve received from Robert at AWR support.

A few years ago, when I still had an SEO boner for WebPosition, that happy feeling was largely because of Scott Goodyear’s great support. Scott disappeared when infospace acquired WebPosition. That’s when the WP FAIL began.

I’ll write a more thorough review of Advanced Web Ranking after I run and customize a few AWR reports. Specifically, I’ll document precisely how I overcome what at first blush appears to be a cluttered interface to accomplish specific SEO reporting customization tasks. If you have any questions you’d like me to discuss in the review, let me know and I’ll try to abide. I know AWR does search engine submission, and also offers tools for keyword research, but those are features I wouldn’t usually comment on unless somebody specifically asked for a review.

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