Category Archives: search engine optimization

Alphabet (1)

A Is For… Alphabet

By | google, search engine optimization | No Comments

Since it became public in 2004, Google has remained on the cutting edge in its industry. By first revolutionizing how internet searches are done, then by introducing countless products such as Google Maps and Google Apps, Google has undoubtedly “changed the game” when it comes to all things tech and digital. Therefore, it was huge news when the tech giant announced this week that it would be restructuring its business and would now be a business subsidiary under a holding company called “Alphabet”.

When a company as influential as Google makes an announcement like this, it is inevitable that businesses everywhere will be wondering how this restructuring will affect them. So how does this affect us as digital marketers?

Image via: cnn.com

Image via: cnn.com

What Is Alphabet?

First off, it is important to clarify what exactly Alphabet is. Basically, Google renamed itself “Alphabet” and created a subsidiary business called “Google.” It seems that Google will continue to be the same brand we all know and love, running products we are familiar with including Search, Android, Maps, YouTube, and Google Apps. Alphabet will also be the holding company to many other companies such as Calico and and Google X. Each business will have its own CEO and they will all report to the Alphabet CEO, (former Google CEO) Larry Page. Google’s new CEO is Sundar Pichai, who joined the Google team in 2004.

Alphabet was created to both satisfy investors and add more transparency to Google business. This new structure will separate Google’s “side projects” from Search, which generates 90% of Google’s profits from advertising. As a result, investors will have a better understanding of how Google’s “side projects” are performing and will allow Google to focus more energy into Search. And it seems that investors are happy. Alphabet shares are up 4% since the announcement.

Image via: abc.xyz

Image via: abc.xyz

What Does This Mean For Digital Marketers?

This announcement had digital marketers everywhere worried about how this would change the future digital landscape. And we are happy to tell you that there is nothing to worry about! Right now, it seems that Search is stable and we shouldn’t see any huge shifts in the digital world. However, it’s important to remember that Google is notorious for constantly changing and improving, and we should expect the same from Alphabet.

Not only do digital marketers have nothing to worry about in the short-term, but this new structure could actually improve Search in the long-term! The separation of companies, each with its own CEO, will probably result in Search getting even more attention than it is now. After all, the organizational restructuring was designed to improve efficiency and accountability. Search has always been a core focus for Google and it is highly possible that it was even one of the driving forces behind the organization’s restructuring.  As a result, SEO specialists and digital marketers may see an improvement in their user experience as Google becomes more responsive and adaptive.

Image via google.com

Image via google.com

All in all, the future looks positive for digital marketers after Google’s “Alphabet” announcement. We encourage you to check out Alphabet’s new site at abc.xyz and drop us a line if you need any help with your search engine optimization needs!

aradaphotography / Shutterstock.com

Google SEO Goes “Mobile Friendly”

By | search engine optimization | No Comments

In the land of SEO, Google is king — actually Google is the whole royal family combined. It’s no secret that accessing the worldwide web from mobile devices rather than computers is the future. Because of this inevitable transition, big brother Google has stepped in and decided there’s no time like the present to enforce mobile-friendly sites as the industry standard.

On April 21, Google will be taking mobile-friendly features into account for mobile search results. The update will “significantly impact” rankings by improving SEO positioning for mobile-friendly sites and demoting sites that haven’t embraced a mobile platform yet. The goal is to create a better mobile user experience.

The algorithm adoption won’t affect desktop or laptop search results, but it will influence worldwide mobile SEO — not just mobile search results in the states. Additionally, the algorithm is applied page-by-page on a real-time basis.

Sidebar for a little digital marketing vocab 101:

Page-by-page — each page’s mobile friendliness is judged separately, meaning unfriendly pages won’t necessarily bring the entire site down a notch.

Real-time — mobile ranking benefits will be immediately effective worldwide. As soon as a site becomes newly mobile friendly — the Google algorithm is on it, improving mobile SEO for the site.

We appreciate Google’s forward thinking outlook on the future of mobile interaction. Google’s stated goal to improve searcher experience seems commendable — it is frustrating to land on a mobile unfriendly site from your phone and get a page so tiny that you bounce immediately.

However, it’s not necessarily good news for start-ups and small businesses participating in e-commerce. It can be a huge hit to checkbook to make sites mobile friendly, but potentially worth the investment in the long run. The cost of losing traffic and revenue might be more detrimental than postponing the switch.

If you are ready to embrace mobile compatibility, give us a call. We’d be happy to talk about getting you squared away for the mobile-friendly future.

URL

How to Create Your Own Vanity URL (and Why It Matters)

By | search engine optimization | No Comments

Most people using the web have noticed that sometimes the links they click look a little bit shorter and different, but they lead to the same place and that’s really all that matters. From a small business owner or Webmaster perspective, the way a URL looks is a little bit more critical. URLs that are shortened change the way the long URL looks, but offer significant benefits to small business owners.

Some of the most popular URL shorteners you may have seen include Buffer (buff.ly), bit.ly, Google (goo.gl), and Hootsuite (ow.ly). These are free URL shorteners that any business can use, and in many cases popular websites like Twitter are already using shorteners whenever you post a link; however these are not your only options. You can actually create a vanity URL shortener just for your business, and that’s where the benefits really start to surface.

How URL Shortenters and Vanity URLs Work

Once again, a URL shortener is a service that takes your long URL and turns it into something shorter. This helps to make the link look clearer to users and take up less space (more on the benefits later). There are three different ways to look at and use shortners:

Option #1: A social network shortens a link automatically. No work needed for the website or user.

Many social networks and other sharing platforms have URL shorteners installed, so if necessary, a URL will be shortened automatically and the website and sharer won’t need to do a thing. This will only happen if someone posts a link directly to Twitter or another social sharing network (not through a sharing button), so it isn’t seen too often. Nonetheless, it’s still a possibility. For Twitter, this shortener is t.co.

Option #2: A website uses a free URL shortener. No work needed for the user, but the website does need to install the free shortener:

Websites can install free URLs shorteners so that any link published on that site is automatically shortened when shared—the user doesn’t need to do a thing. Twitter is an excellent place to see several of these free shorteners:

As you can see, when I posted this link the link automatically used the Hootsuite (ow.ly) shortener for me. This happened because the website where I clicked the sharing button for their article had the bit.ly shortener installed. In the second example, that website had the Bit.ly (bit.ly) shortener installed. Again, the user didn’t have to do a thing. If you’re interested in learning about getting started with one of the shortening services, you can learn more about them here.

Extra Option: No shortener is used.

I think this is worth mentioning in order to avoid confusion. If you’re ever looking at a sharing network such as Twitter, you might notice that sometimes a shortener isn’t used. This means that Twitter didn’t need to shorten the link because the tweet was short enough, and it means that the website doesn’t have a free URL shortener installed.

Option #3: Create a vanity URL shortener. No work needed from the user, but the website does have to create the vanity URL shortner.

When you see a shortener that is very specific to that company, it means that that company created this vanity URL shortener. Anytime one of their links is shared on Twitter or elsewhere, it will automatically shorten. This often happens when someone clicks a social sharing button on the website that created the vanity URL. Below are a few examples:

In the example above, Kissmetrics have their own “kiss.ly” vanity URL. A few other examples include: The Huffington Post (huff.to), Mashable (on.mash.to), Eloqua (elq.to), Search Engine Journal (sejr.nl), and many, many others. Take a look at your Twitter feed and see all of the different kinds!

So are they only used for Twitter? Twitter’s 140-character limit makes it a network where you’re going to see shorteners the most. However, other social networks will also use URL shortners or allow you to manually use a shortened URL. Aside from sharing links on social networks, you don’t have too many more opportunities to use shorteners. You can manually use them in an article or something through one of the tools like Hootsuite or Buffer, but this isn’t nearly as common.

The Benefits of Creating Your Own Vanity URL for Your Company

  • Custom URLs look professional.
  • You have consistent branding no matter where your content is shared.
  • It creates what many call “link trust,” which means readers will feel more confident sharing your content.
  • They help you stand out on and make you more memorable social networks.
  • Vanity URL shorteners also give you data and analytics (more on this later).
  • If you’re hosting your own shortener, you’re not passing link juice to any third party.

Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Your Own Vanity URL

  1. Choose a hosting service. It is possible to host your own custom shortened URL, but this is by far the more complicated and less popular option. Most choose a service to host the custom URL for them. Bit.ly is the most popular, which you can sign up for here.
  2. Choose the actual vanity URL. Of course your first step is actually choosing a vanity URL. The rule of thum is to keep it fewer than 8-10 characters and keep it looking similar to your regular domain name. Domai.nr is a good place to go for ideas.
  3. Buy the vanity URL. There is no free option here; you have to buy it using any domain registration site such as iPage or GoDaddy. I recommend buying it from the same place your website is hosted.
  4. Setup the shortener. If you’re using Bit.ly, you can visit your “account settings” tab and then go to “advanced.” You’ll see an option for “custom short domain” where you can type in the vanity URL you just bought. Other services are similar.
  5. Find your DNS settings page. This is a cruicial step in order to verify your new shortener. You need to find your Domain Name System (DSN) page and look for the domain’s “A record.” This point is a few steps long, so visit this article to follow along or simple ask your domain registrar for help.
  6. Choose your domain. Visit Bit.ly or whichever service you chose to use and select this new shortened domain to let the service know that is what you want to use.

In the end, when it comes to sharing on social networks your link is most likely going to be shortened regardless. You may as well brand your website while you’re at it. If you’ve ever created a vanity URL shortener let us know in the comments below how it went and what results you’ve seen.

Amanda DiSilvestro gives small business and entrepreneurs SEO advice ranging from keyword density to recovering from Panda and Penguin updates. She writes for HigherVisibility.com, one of the leading SEO companies in the United States.

 

Your SEO plan is Kim Kardashian (low quality and all over the place)

By | search engine optimization | 3 Comments

Your SEO plan should not be like Kim Kardashian

Kim Kardashian – everywhere you look you see this talentless hack either attempting to look natural in a reality show, marrying a New Jersey Net, or selling a perfume which I am assuming smells like a mix of neediness and felt pantsuits. This is not a good model for your life, and this is not a good model for your SEO plan. I am going to show in three lessons how to build an excellent SEO plan by doing the complete opposite of Kim Kardashian.

Lesson 1 – Pick something you do well and stick with it

Search Engine Optimization and Kim Kardashian are not the same

Kim tries many different venues to define herself. She has attempted to be an actress, a singer, and even at one point tried to be a wife (low blow).  However, by trying all of these different venues one can not really describe her. Is she an actress? Is she a spokesperson? Your SEO plan should avoid this pitfall. Think of what your website is about at its core and just go for it. If what you are selling on your site is high quality coffee beans why go after the keywords “coffee cups”?  You will just be diluting the purpose of your site to Google, and more importantly the consumer. For my clients I recommend figuring out what your theme is for the website, finding a thematic keyword, and then utilizing that theme in different ways for SEO.

Lesson 2 – Keep control of your content

Kim and Ray Jay - not digital marketers

Perhaps you remember why Kim Kardashian originally got famous. I won’t get into too many details, except to say she made a certain tape with Ray Jay and it got released to the public. What we can learn from this is to keep control of you content. The way to do that for SEO is through Google plus. For those who have not noticed, Google Plus results have been creeping into search results page. For many years Google has ranked pages based on an algorithm that’s mainly derived from backlinking (but this will be changing in the near future). Of course this is easy to manipulate, we link to each other’s website and bam! However, Google will be moving more and more towards the quality of the content (more on that later) and who wrote the content. This is for the better. You will want to setup your Google authorship so that each quality piece of content you put out will be correctly attributed to you. You worked hard on that content, make sure you get the credit (and not Ray Jay).

Lesson 3 – It’s not about the volume of content you put out, it’s the quality

Sunburned and looking like a bad SEO plan

Kim puts out quite a bit of content; there is no doubt about that. This content comes in many forms from reality TV, to hosting events, to music videos. However, the vast majority of these are low quality and not engaging. We call this “throw away content” in the world. This type of content was actually surprisingly useful for SEO for a long time. If you were able to amass a lot of content, even if that content was not particularly good, SEO results could still be achieved. However, as I pointed out before – Google is changing and you once again want to do the opposite of Kim. High quality content that is carefully crafted and is actually shared with people is the new signal to Google that your content is worthy of being shown on the first page of the SERPS.

Adam Lundquist performs the search marketing for Digital Operative. if you have any questions about PPC or SEO, he is your guy. Additionally he has loads of early 90’s references

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Magento Go SEO checklist

By | collaboration, digital marketing, Digital Operative, magento, search engine optimization | 2 Comments

This is the Magento GO checklist from the presentation “What You Should Know about SEO”  from February 22, 2012 by BJ Cook and Adam Lundquist. This checklist will help you with the basics of SEO and get your Magento Go store off the ground. You can download our 2-page SEO checklist here:  Digital Operative’s SEO checklist for Magento Go

Big three stories of the week!

By | apps, digital marketing, ecommerce, facebook, interactive marketing, mobile marketing, Search Engine Marketing, search engine optimization, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Though Friday the 13th is generally considered an unlucky day, it is Friday and it can’t really be that bad. Here is the weekly round up of the top tech stories that you can’t miss this week. One story will affect your search engine optimization plans, one will effect your holiday shopping next year, and the final will make you rethink about mobile marketing.

1. Google launches “search plus your world”

Google continues its move to social networking dominance by launching “Google search plus your world”. Now, we all know that Google is the undisputed king when it comes to search, and we have all been watching as they awkwardly try to transition into social networking. It reminds me of when Eddie Murphy was the king of stand up comics and for some reason awkwardly tried to transition into being a singer. We all knew he was really good at one thing, and yet he had to try singing. But I digress. Google is launching “Search plus your world” for Google plus members which should benefit those social networkers who have become part of the Google Plus network. Google search plus your world will enable the user to search across both the wider internet that Google traditionally provides search results for as well as across your social network (Google Plus only). There is a little toggle switch at the top so you can choose between the two if you like. Here is an example of how it works:  you type in something like “Pizza” (My favorite search query) you will get both the traditional results, along with results that show your friends eating pizza, or pizza recipes they share. Here is Google’s video that shows the new social networking features in the search engine. For privacy purposes these social features will only appear if they are shared with you or if the post is public. Additionally Google will add the image results to your search so you will see both the images Google traditionally has in its index as well as images of your social circle. We will keep an eye on it because the Google search plus your world will definitely begin to effect search engine optimization efforts.

2. Consumer Electronics show

The CES is where the latest and greatest in all things electronic are released. If you don’t know what it is, it is basically what happens when a nerd goes to heaven. I didn’t get to go this year, but I did get to read about these great new gadgets:

  • 3D printer – This is just so amazing. Instead of printing on paper it prints on plastic, and the printer bring what is on the computer screen to life. I saw a video and it was able to “print” a flute, a replica of a person, a mannequin head, a toothbrush, and a shoe. Now, I don’t want any of those items per say but the possibilities are endless. I can see this increasingly being used for ecommerce.
  • Lenovo Yoga – Both a laptop and a tablet this is one very cool machine.  It is a laptop that can fold back and become a tablet, or fold over and become a stand to watch movies or TV on. The part that I like the best is that it has both the functionality of a tablet with screen based movements as well the laptops processing power and keyboard. It would be so nice not to need a laptop and tablet separately.

3. Are apps more important than search on mobile?

I saw the link to this article on Danny Sullivan’s facebook wall and thought it was worth taking a read. It brought up some valuable points about how people use and search on their mobile devices as compared to how they use apps on their mobile devices. Some main points that I took away from the article are:

  • Mobile users may be searching the web less than we think and are instead searching the app store.
  • Whereas a mobile website may be browsed momentarily, an app is on the phone and will be opened again and again. This means repeat traffic
  • Consumers interacting with apps show more brand favorability and purchase intent.

Articles like this continue to show that the cutting edge of the digital revolution is in mobile, and the playing field will continue to change

Those are the big three stories for the week – have a great weekend!

Best Keyword Research Tools for SEO Rockstars

By | digital marketing, google, search engine optimization | One Comment

free_keyword_research_tools_seo

With any new Search Engine Optimization (SEO) project, exploring the available keyword inventory is like choosing the best materials to build the foundation for your house. Would you build your house on sticks or clay or bricks? Whenever starting that process, if you’re as SEO rockstar you’ve got tools bookmarked or downloaded already. What if you’re just starting out and are spending time searching for “Best Keyword Research Tools” on the web? Well, save yourself some time and check these out. We use a combination for our SEO clients because none of them are perfect. It’s more about the strategy and semantics of the researcher and less about what the tool outputs. So try them all and feel free to add any I may have missed. Enjoy your keyword research, you SEO rockstars!

  1. Typo generator: http://tools.seobook.com/spelling/keywords-typos.cgi
  2. Wordtracker: http://www.wordtracker.com/
  3. KeywordMax: http://www.keywordmax.com/
  4. SpyFu: http://www.spyfu.com/
  5. Keyword discovery: http://www.keyworddiscovery.com/
  6. Adgrooroo: http://www.adgooroo.com/
  7. Google keyword tool: https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal
  8. Google Zeitgeist: http://www.google.com/intl/en/press/zeitgeist2008/
  9. Google Search-Based Keywords tool: http://www.google.com/sktool/
  10. Google Suggest Scraper tool: http://tools.seobook.com/general/keyword-information/
  11. Wordstream: http://www.wordstream.com/keywords
  12. Your Brain: Yes, you’d be surprised how great that thing on your shoulders does at generating useful keywords, slang, jargon, industry specific terminology, etc.

SEO For The Ones Who Don’t Know

By | blogging, community management, Conversational Marketing, customer experience, digital campaigns, digital marketing, Digital Operative, email marketing, facebook, geekery, google, link building, Search Engine Marketing, search engine optimization, twitter | 3 Comments

Optimizing your site using the right approach,
Is the subject I’m going to broach.
There are certain things you should implement during this process
If you follow these basic steps, you should expect nothing less.
Your site will optimize without a doubt,
If you follow this route.

Keywords and phrases is where you want to start.
If you don’t do your research, this is where you and I should part.
Pick the ones that focus on your niche.
General phrases will probably make a glitch
Pick specific words that compete with fewer sites,
Eventually you’ll stop beating your head like you do most nights.

Title Tags, Meta Tags and content should be a priority on your list.
Whoever manages these things, you should threaten with your fist.
Probably the most important factor in organic SEO.
Pay no attention to this and I’m certain your site will be a no go.
Keyword density should be between 3-5%.
Avoid Keyword stuffing, that’s what I meant.
Your content should have a natural flow.
Make sure you’ve added enough keywords though.
Each page of your site should have its own Title Tag.
This is not an area you want to treat like an old rag.
Tags should be built around keywords specific to a page.
Even Meta Tags count, even though it’s not all the rage.

Inbound link development is an important step.
Don’t fight this. It’s something you should just accept.
This is probably the most difficult and time consuming technique,
But it’s a good long term strategy. Wink, wink!
Factors that influence your rankings are,
Relevancy of the site linking back to you shouldn’t be sub-par,
And the anchor text to your sites link,
Can surely make you sink.
Do your research to partner with sites that will benefit you.
You’ll thank me once you realize this is not just a rue.

Your goal is to increase the number of visitors and leads,
By giving Google’s bot what it needs.
The search engines top 10 ranking is where you want to be.
It won’t happen by begging on your knees.
Getting pages indexed in each major search engine is tough,
But if you follow my steps, it might just be enough.

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