Fair questions are great. Great questions are awesome, and this is a great question. If you are not familiar with the rel=nofollow tag you can read a bit about it at the link. Important facts include that it does not affect the display or readability of the web page in any way, and that it is used by many search engines including Google.
Questions arise among those looking to improve search engine optimization on their pages because the idea behind nofollow is that it does not pass through your Page Rank to the other page. There are reasons why you would not want to share your PR with other sites and Matt Cutts, from Google, addresses this issue in the following video.
Google’s new, not updated, algorithm (set) plays heavily to mobile. A/B testing is just starting on this but my prediction is that an identical page with no mobile ready presentation (HTML5, responsive design, alternate presentment, whatever) will not fair as well in Hummingbird as one that does not.
Now, perhaps more than ever, site structure, geographic location, mobile readiness, and self-identity is highly valuable. It still pays to network, connect, engage, get social, be local, and pay attention to detail. Hummingbird promises to be a big boon to the honest Internet marketer and social networker.
All of this means being “Google friendly” has taken on an entirely new set of priorities. Most sites are not Hummingbird ready. My experience is that the average, small business, real estate agent, chiropractor, healthcare or legal professional, will need site modifications to become Hummingbird compliant or will loose Google traction quickly.
Google is king, there is no doubt about this. Today when people say search over 83% of them mean Google. With that bit of information it is easy to see how captivating attention from that mass is valuable to any business. While the next several words will not guarantee you a number one search result it will help you understand what it takes, and what your opponents are doing, to win in the search wars.
Follow these steps, monitor your progress, and learn even more about search engine optimization and you will stand a fighting chance. If you are too busy or prefer to hire a professional to handle this for you I am happy to speak with you. Simply use the Contact link and let’s talk.
1. Check your site for misspellings especially of keywords. Google is smart enough to know how to spell. While there is a “trick” to misspell certain keywords, which has proven to work (mortgage being spelled morgage is one), but use caution. It also gives the opportunity for a search engine to see you have a misspelling within your site. Find a good tool or hire a pro to crawl your site for errors including spelling.
2. Speed up your page load time. You may use a tool like YSlow to help you discover why your page is loading slow, or even if it is loading slowly. Elements of sites load separately so if you have large graphics or pre-loaded video or that God forsaken Flash embedded in your site you are almost certainly losing visitors – especially on mobile devices.
There it is on Twitter the exact text you’re looking for even if you didn’t know it. “Five Ways Guaranteed To Increase Sales FREE” or whatever it may say. So you click the link and land on a page filled with advertisements and a blurb which makes no sense but seems relevant to the link you clicked and it has a “Read more” link so you click it only to land on a similar page still not getting the information you’re hoping for. You have just been doorwayed.
Google calls a page as such as doorway page and their algorithm and search quality team are constantly on the lookout for them. I mention this not because you have never seen one but to stop you from getting the bright idea this may be a good way to get traffic to your business site. Yes it may draw some traffic for a while though when Google finally discovers it, and they will, you risk being blacklisted without warning and facing a steep battle trying to get that domain name accepted back into the good graces of the search giant.
In 2006, BMW suffered Google’s wrath for setting up doorway pages to attract search engines and redirect traffic to its German website, BMW.de – BMW’s page rank was reduced to zero. – Website Magazine
BMW, of course, is likely a much larger company than yours and you may, just may mind you, get away with it for at least a while. Matt Cutts, in the video below, give a bit of insight to Google’s views on doorway pages. Keep in mind Matt is the head of Google’s link spam division so what he says is golden.
One of the most often asked questions I answer is “how can I be on page one of Google?” This is a good question for me since I am, after all, in the business of getting people as close to the number one organic search results as I possibly can. There is a concerning aspect of this too: people who believe they are on the first page of Google search results when in reality they are way back sometimes in the teens.
How can this happen?
Google, like virtually every other site, loves using cookies to deliver user specific information. This information stored in these particular cookies seeks to provide search results which are best for a particular user who has Google cookies in their web browser. What this means is based on previous search results and previously “clicked on” results tells Google a searcher prefers one type of link, or one link, over others. So if Bob Peltserman who owns a pallet manufacturing company in Talahola and he searches for “pallet manufacturers in Talahola” then clicks on his link the next time he searches that link result may, and probably will, be higher in the results. Besides he is sitting physically in Talahola when he searches so Google wants to provide him with the highest level of accuracy when he is searching so technically he could leave off “in Talahola” and still see an adulterated high search result for his own link.
How do I find my real Google listing position?
This is your fortunate day for today you will find a couple of online, free tools to help you discover just where – or at least which page – of Google (and Bing) your listing shows up on. Further this result will sidestep all the contamination you may have in your browser. Let me restate that contamination part so you, Mr. or Ms. Reader, will understand when you go to Google and search the results you are seeing are not the same results other people may be seeing.
The hard way would be to clear your cache, clear your cookies, turn cookies off then search for your keywords until you find your site then count which page you are on. Keep in mind if your listing shows up on page 8, 10 or 22 you almost may as well not be listed. Also if you are not using the appropriate keywords in your search you will be learning false facts. Real estate agents, an industry near and dear to my heart, have a terrible habit of searching for their name and saying, “my name is my brand” – a little on that in a moment.
If you have not done much research into effective keywords for your market, product and service, the reality of it is the keywords you are using may actually be useless anyway. Back to the real estate agents, whom I fully understand, they may choose keywords “Homes By Kenny”. Who in their right mind having never heard of me is going to search for that? No they are going to search for “homes for sale in Kennesaw Georgia” or maybe even a neighborhood. So carefully think of the appropriate keywords which mean something. (If you’re lost it is free to contact me so we can discuss.)
How to find which page you are found on Google.
The first tool I want to tell you about is simple a plain text results from Google’s search results via a shell. Don’t worry about what that means just be happy this works. Now that you have your search terms “3 bedroom 2 bath homes for sale in Kennesaw Georgia” go to http://goosh.org and type those words on the page. There is no search form just a blinking cursor. Type there there press enter. Keep pressing enter until you get to your search results or until you reach the end of what Goosh offers.
Goosh will deliver search results in groups of 4 all the way up 65 search results which would be page 6. Half-way through page 6 is actually where it will land you. While this takes a few clicks one of the nice features is you get to see who is coming up before you. It is far beyond the scope of this article to talk about doing intelligence analysis to see just why but that’s what I and people who do what I do, do.
Something a little easier.
If you would prefer typing your keywords and URL into a form field and pressing enter then looking at a number try http://keywordtool.ulancer.com/ (that page is missing as of summer 2014) http://whatpageofsearchamion.com/ where that is exactly what happens. Simply input your key word or key words, add your web address and click enter. It may take a couple of seconds but the system will tell you which page of Google your site shows on the search you performed. Like Goosh, Ulancer is limited in scope and only goes through page 10. If you are not found in the first 1o pages the system will tell you how unpopular you are. The same works for Bing at Ulancer – simply select Bing instead of Google.
If your link is not coming up on page one (the first 10 search results) and you are searching on truly valuable key words it is time to get to work. While it is possible to DIY some of this work it makes sense at this point to evaluate the time it is going to take for you to learn what needs to be done then to pull it off. Meanwhile there are hundreds of capable intelligence agents who are familiar with the methods and processes you may consider contacting. Otherwise there are plenty of websites to show you what to do step by step. Try searching on how to move your site up in search results, SEO techniques and other like terms.
I already know a lot of people are going to say, “that’s not how I do it, I do it like this …”. Have at it! You can pay more, do it for free, whatever suits your fancy. Oh, there are much more efficient ways to achieve this – most of them come with a fee. This one helps you learn while doing because it allows you to actually see the result instead of just getting a PDF report or an unprintable Flash report.
When it comes to SEO it’s all about having a bigger net connected to a funnel connected to a syringe. Get the biggest net possible! Here are a few places you can publish articles with links back to your site. This tactic gets both love and hate – sometimes from the same users! If you’ve read my writings or listened to my shows/podcasts you’ll know I’m a die-hard fan of data. My data says you do get a return on using this tactic and how well your article is written, what keywords it uses and how you invite people back to your money maker all play a role in that all important event: conversion!
When you write if you do not write with conversion in mind you’re probably going to greatly decrease your chances for getting conversions as a result of your efforts. First here are some places to publish your articles on line. Following the list are some tips for successfully generating SEO results and increasing click-through from these articles:
GoArticles – when providing information about resources I get a surprising amount of clickthrough
Here are Some SEO Tips for Article Posting
Relevant Content – If you write generic articles and pack in a few keywords you can generally kiss your time goodbye. I have found simply writing on topic with generalized information does nothing to entice the few dozen readers who find the article to your money maker.
Exciting Headlines – “How I beat the Google Algorithm for FREE” is better than “Search marketing tips” you know what I mean?
Link To Your Free eBook – inside of your article you should have a link to download your free whitepaper or free report. Don’t have one? Get one! Make sure you have a squeeze page/landing page capable of capturing the necessary information and using it to connect with your new prospect.
Mention Others – when you are writing mention other people who are influential and tell them you mentioned them in your article. You’d be surprised how many tweets or messages I get from people I know, and people I don’t know, saying, “Hey, just mentioned you in my post over at _____”. I usually retweet if nothing else.
Keep It Original! – I don’t even bother arguing this one anymore. The data and facts say duplicate content is no good for you because it’s no good for the community. That said modified content works just fine.
Arguments Against Article Posting for SEO
Many sites use the NOFOLLOW tag and this means Google (and other honorable search bots) are not supposed to follow links away from this site. This is true in many cases and it’s easy to tell if a site is doing so by simply viewing the source code for a page and looking for the NOFOLLOW tag in the links on the page. For SEO purposes this is a deal breaker – however – for getting visitors to come to your moneymaker perhaps not. After all would you refuse to post on a site (craigslist for example) which may get 300 views to your link just because Google wasn’t going to follow that link and index your site? Ha!
Duplicate content is an argument as old as the web. Some say a little won’t hurt. Other’s say a duplicate phrase can play out bad for you. With proper use of canonicalization and modified content you can overcome some of these issues. True nothing beats fresh, unique and relevant content for high performance in your SEO campaigns.
I have realized several times without ever writing it that most people who say they are SEO experts are actually keyword users. Now there is certainly nothing wrong with appropriate use of keywords and, in fact, it is and essential factor in SEO. The problem, if you want to call it so, is many SEO professionals end at keywords. They don’t know how to really break down how a domain, site, page, article, or sentence actually work with or against the algorithms which result in higher ranking on the search engines.
One big example I recently encountered was a client who had contacted a “competitor” about doing SEO for their site and the first thing the SEO company suggested was they change their domain name because their domain does not contain their keywords. Really? That’s the best you can do and that’s the punch you lead with? In reality had the client changed their domain name and done so the way the SEO expert suggested they would have tanked and may never have been able to get back their PR5 on Google.
Another bit of talk I hear from people who have spoken with someone either before speaking with me or who speak with someone else after speaking with me about Search Engine Optimization is this: They told me I need at least 4% saturation on my keywords but no more than 6%. Okay. If we’re looking at keyword density chances are that’s not an unreasonable range but where are those keywords and how do they flow with the conversation? Are those keywords in the footer in font designed to blend into the background? Are those keywords in the meta keywords tag? (I know, that was snarky.) Or are those keywords in the headings and body text in a natural flow for human readers?
Recently I met someone and the way they introduced themselves to me was, “We do SEM, SEO and something else I don’t remember what it was because I lost interest.” Now admittedly I am a bit of an SEO snob. I’m also a web development and WordPress snob but that’s it. My snobbery ends there. Or at least close by. Chances are what that SEM/SEO marketing company does is SEM – you know the one where you get a phone call from a company who says, “We can guarantee you first page placement on Google for any keyword.” What they fail to mention is they are a Certified Google Partner … oh wait. This guy actually said that part. But he said it like this, “We’re one of only 17 Google Certified Partners in the United States.”
No, I’m not kidding. Get back up you peed your pants.
How can you know if you are getting ripped off on SEO?
If you don’t know much about SEO, SEM, search engines, keywords, etc., you’re probably prime bait. Now I say that like these SEO sales people are intentionally ripping you off. That’s not necessarily true. Most of them couldn’t tell you what affect page layout has on search results. Many of them have no idea how to increase Page Rank on your website. The vast majority of them could not tell you which is more important a description meta tag or a photo caption. Finally many of them really don’t care about SEO they just want to sell you pay-per click ads. After all it’s easy, they can’t be held responsible for the outcome and the commissions are pretty darned high!
Small business SEO is the realm of snake oil and magic bullets. It’s the place in cyberspace where digital hustlers spread their lore and captivate audiences with stats and stories from around the globe. You will find both the trustworthy provider as well as the ant-lion hustler spewing great gushers of acronyms in volume enough to spin the heads off ten penny nails.
Let’s see – what all did I confuse the search bots with in that paragraph? I got “small business SEO” there at the lead then I hit it with “snake oil” and “magic bullets” in one sentence. I think by the time I got to “ant-lion”, “hustler” and “ten penny nails” the Googlebot probably thought I was using an article spinner. That’s another topic in and of its own but for now let’s get to the pertinent information for the small business online marketer who, let’s face it, needs to be found in search engine searches.
How we got here today, I mean the history of search engines, is important but that’s a little beyond the scope of time I expect you to invest in learning the what and why about small business SEO. Today nothing matters more than Google. That said there are other important tools and systems relative to online search marketing but none of them tops Google. In fact Google dominates the search engine space with 83% of the search engine activity as of May 2012 (resource). The closest “competitor” is Yahoo with 6.5% and Bing is all the way down at 4.15% of total global search share.
What is SEO?
Search engine optimization, SEO, is the practice of creating or modifying a website, a webpage and/or the content thereof to be more “search engine friendly” and thus result in more searches displaying your page higher (ie closer to the first result) in the search engine results pages (SERP). As an example if Janet makes wood beads for jewelry she would certainly like for her website link to appear at the top of the search engine results when anyone searches for “wood beads for jewelry” or “wood beads”. It could mean the difference between a few sales and thousands of sales – this, of course, depends on the demand for the product.
In our example above the “key words” are “wood beads for jewelry”. While keywords are important they have, over the years, become only one crucial component of search. In the early days when search robots used thinly constructed algorithms (the way the search engine scripts treat the contents of a web page) it was easy just to load a page with keywords. In this example maybe just posting the words “wood beads” about 50 times. It didn’t take too long until we made changes to the way the search “robots” (the script that reads and catalogs the pages) treated textual content and we started counting percentages, where keywords appeared and even how they were presented on the page.
Today we look for human readable content with keywords used in context. As technology has grown so have the calculations for scoring and cataloging web content. Today the most important part is to have human friendly pages with fresh, unique and relevant content. There are still a high number of SEO “experts” out there who use what are called black hat techniques. They may work to boost your results for a while but run a very high risk of your site being de-indexed (removed and blocked) from Google’s search results. For this reason it is very important to look past any flash, glitz, promises, and high prices, and work with a small business SEO provider who knows the rules and understands the inner workings of the search engine program.
Good SEO results in solid website visits from qualified buyers. It is rarely the answer to all of your needs but it certainly can represent a high rate of return for any small business.
Looking for a master authority on the topic of small business SEO isn’t as challenging as one may think. There are a few tips of the hat which can help thin the herd and they can serve you well. These are not all you need and some authentic professionals can also seem like snake charmers but keep these in mind:
Paying for search engine placement is not SEO – it’s marketing and it works but when you stop paying you lose the results you were getting. True SEO results in an organic growth of traffic to your site. Paid placement buys you results only as long as you continue to pay.
Ask them how important the “keywords meta tag” is to Google – if they say it’s crucial just thank them for their time and move along. (resource)
Ask them if they can get back-links to your site – this one is tricky because white hat (acceptable) back-links from relevant, well ranked sites is important. If they say they can get back-links ask them how they do so. If they say “comment marketing” or “we have several sites we can link to you from” just be careful. While this can be an acceptable, viable technique it’s closer to a gray area.
If they ask you to move the hosting of your site – be very cautious. About the only viable reason I can think of moving your site would be if during the analysis it was discovered you are on a shared server with websites which have been blacklisted. I cannot think of another acceptable reason to move.
Ask them if it helps to use a gateway page with a re-direct to your site – if they say anything short of no then thank them for their time. This is not to be confused with a landing page or an index page. A gateway page refers to a page the user never sees because it redirects to the page you want them to see. The gateway page is written exclusively to attract the attention of the search engine … it may also attract the attention of one of the thousands of site surveyors who have the ability to de-index your site with a single click and no explanation.
Why do small businesses need SEO?
The name should say it all in most cases. Small. Small usually means small staff – like a staff of 1 for example. Search engine optimization, when properly performed, can act like another member of the marketing team. Combined with the right website, one that performs like a member of the sales team, a small business person (like you?) may free up time to actually do the service they opened their business to do. Good SEO results in solid website visits from qualified buyers. It is rarely the answer to all of your needs but it certainly can represent a high rate of return for any small business.
Consult with an accomplished, knowledgeable, small business SEO expert today. In fact since you are reading my blog I’ll be happy to spend several minutes answering your questions and helping you get going in the right direction. Just call me at 678-439-8683 or use the contact form on this site.
Matt Cutts is the definitive resource on Google search spam control which defaults to his having tremendous knowledge about how to rank higher in search results. How do you do search engine optimization (SEO)? According to this video that probably is not as important as having the proper links. Listen, I can talk all day about how to rank high in Google search results but let’s listen to The Expert, Matt Cutts, in his own words. Watch this video and share this article with everyone who wants to place number one on Google!
Of course the idea is funny and great work by Sam. In truth there are techniques to help you rank high on Google and those, are not them. So how do you get your site up in the search listings? Simplified it goes something like this:
Write for the readers, not the search bots – readable human content about what you really do.
Write frequently – fresh, relevant content is still king.
Think about your title and headings – people like relevant titles and headings and so does Google.
Use relevant graphics with good titles and descriptions.
Link out to relative content – people like this, so does Google.
If you’re reading this chances are you use some, most or all of these sites daily. Having been a user of Alexa since 1996, when the web was just a diapered baby, I have always been fond of some of the tools they provide and the new era is no different. If you have not used Alexa’s Site Info go give it a spin after you read this article – you’ll learn a lot about your favorite sites.
So what does this mean to you as a marketer, developer or community builder?
When I was a young fellow I grew up where a river fed into a lake so we fished. A lot. One of the first questions fishermen ask each other when greeting on or near the water is, “Catching anything?” That was followed, usually, by the other party saying something that may include, “Yes. They are biting really good down by the bridge.”
People are searching in increasing numbers for the information most relevant to their terms. Google is constantly tweaking their algorithm to make certain the best search results are delivered as often as possible. Amazon is tracking searches and delivering relevant information to their visitors. You can learn from these top performers by looking at their Site Info on Alexa which I have so conveniently linked for you here in this article.
Look at the search terms which result in traffic to those site. Now think about your own site, product, brand, or message and think in terms of search relevancy. One of the more difficult challenges is to teach new web marketers how to think like their prospects instead of like a brochure writer. “What are people going to type into Google to find your site”, is one of my most asked questions to new people I am working with as clients.
Using this site for example people generally will not be searching for “ken cook” when they find me. They may, however, be searching for “online brand consultant”, “social media strategy” or “podcast hosting”. At least they will now 😉 So think about your product, service or content. Then think like the people who you want to find you. If you’re a dentist who wants to be found by parents in your area maybe you should try something like “children’s dentist in Kennesaw, Georgia” (if you’re in Kennesaw that is!) Speaking of which, do you know how to do a keyword analysis for your keywords and see which terms and phrases may be more valuable? Perhaps we’ll cover keyword analysis in another post.
Pop on over to Alexa and check them out. Take a moment and add your review of TheKenCook.com – for the Gipper! Membership is FREE.