The Current State of Search

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My wife and I love to travel. Who doesn’t? Recently, we were planning our next trip (which mainly consist of Disney World now) and were reminiscing about places we’ve been. One vacation in particular that stands out was our trip to Aruba.

This was my first time on an island and it was all inclusive so we felt like royalty.  Everything about this trip was perfect: the weather, the food, the beaches, I could go on forever with how impressed we were. Playing back the trip in my mind I remembered seeing a sign for an escalator that said “escalator broken, please use stairs.”

It didn’t occur to me then but reflecting upon it caused me to realize that this is the current state of search.

SEO is a lot like a broken escalator. It still works, we just need to work harder at it.


Now, to be fair, using my 20/20 hindsight I can see that they may have been planning some maintenance that day so the sign makes sense, but having not seen any maintenance crew, I will proceed with my original thought: Acquiring traffic used to be a lot less challenging before content, link quality and location were taken into consideration. Some of the less desirable methods that were used were:

  • Stuffing a lot of keywords into the meta keywords tag,
  • Using the same content on every page and just switch out locations

  • Placing text at the bottom of the website that was the same color as the background (white text on white background for example).

The problem with those method was that the results were often not exactly what a user was looking for. This prompted Google to make some changes. Since early 2011, Google has been working a lot harder to improve the quality of its results and only show websites that no longer employ any shady tactics. Over the next few years that followed, the search giant would release several more updates that further focused on returning more accurate results.

What works

SEO requires a lot of planning. Anyone who says otherwise is lying and stealing your money. You can’t build a building starting at the top just like you can’t increase a website’s presence, traffic and sales by guessing. Using the right tools can help with proper keyword research and content planning but should be used correctly. Always remember to pay attention to the data and see what story it tells. Here are several methods I use frequently that help my clients perform better:

Build a Persona

This is one of the more important and overlooked procedures of online marketing. If you want to craft content that resonates better with your audience then you need to know who you are marketing to. Build a persona that represents several different types of clients (depending on your niche) and the content will fall into place. If you don’t have a target audience in mind, content creation may be more difficult and you could be missing that connection with your audience.

Be Helpful. Don’t Always Try to Sell Them Something

I’m going to avoid saying “create good content” because that has been beaten into the ground, revived and beaten back down again several times over. What I am going to say is create content that is helpful. This means we should aim to answer a visitors question before it is even asked. Offer solutions to common problems (within your niche), give advice on ways to avoid those problems and be open and honest. Natural speech plays a big part in search and is only going to increase. Keep this in mind when crafting content.

Make Sure the Design isn’t Crowded

You can have the best product or the best prices but if your website is difficult to navigate, you’re going to lose the business to your competitor. Make sure you have easy-to-spot CTA’s and all contact information is equally easy to find. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard complaints from clients not being called and their phone number was either buried in the footer as a size 6 font, listed on the contact page or not at all.

Make sure their CTA is easy to spot and most importantly, don’t’ make them think.

What are competitors doing?

How you choose a set of keywords will greatly impact your next phase of planning. But what happens after you have completed your initial keyword research? Don’t ignore those terms with low or no search volume, do a search with them using different search operators and see exactly how many other sites are using those terms. We know by now that the keyword planner isn’t 100% in terms of average monthly search volume so this is a way to uncover other areas of opportunity.

There’s obviously a lot more I could write about but I’m just going for a top-level overview with this post.

What doesn’t work

Some of these were once considered viable strategies in digital marketing while others may have always been on the shady side but the one thing they all have in common is that people are (unfortunately) still using them today.

Link Wheels

Reciprocal Linking

Link Circles

Blog Commenting (not used as much)

Splash Pages

Micro Sites

Meta Keywords

Text that matches the background color of the sites

The last one (bottom right) is my favorite and yes, I have been asked that recently if that can be done. I say those tactics don’t work because Google has adjusted its algorithm to only display quality results which reward sites with helpful content and filter out those who employ shady quick traffic building techniques.

Search – Then and Now

The internet used to be document based and was a series of pages linking to other pages. This “popularity contest” method of ranking sites is what made Google stand out among other search engines. This method of ranking sites is still, in part, used today but has evolved to be so much more.

Universal Search rolled out May 16, 2007 and had a revolutionary impact on search. This new display provided additional opportunity for sites to rank based on other metrics such as images, video, news articles, maps and more. Many of you might not remember but Google’s SERPs used to only be 10 blue links.

Since the release of universal search we are seeing everything listed above along with relevant ads to go with our queries. Recently we have started seeing enhanced results (rich snippets),  auto complete, the knowledge graph and answer box. And that’s only within the past few years!

So, what are these things and how can they help? At a high-level overview, rich snippets are a way of marking up your data found and indexed  easier by search engines. It works by telling the SE’s exactly what your site is about by categorizing each piece of content on a page. The benefit here is twofold: content will be indexed faster and SERP listings will stand out. These enhanced listings can lead to a higher CTR since there are not many others doing them right now.

Wait. Back up. Indexed faster? Yes. Current search engines rely on context to best guess what a particular page is about. Schema tags tell them exactly what the content is about so you’re saving them a lot of guess work. The less work they have to do, the better it is for you.

What about social media?

A lot has been and continues to be written about social media so I won’t delve too deep into that right now. What I will talk about is Google Plus.

The Red-Headed stepchild of social media, Google Plus, Indexes at incredible speeds (i’ve seen posts be indexed within 3 seconds when signed in). Sadly, it’s not widely used when compared to other social sites (was it because Google forced it down our throats for the first year?).

I’m a little biased because I happen to love Google Plus and use it personally, daily. Hyperindexing is important because when your target audience are signed into their Google accounts, this increase the chances of your posted content being found much faster. This is especially helpful for blog posts that have just been published.

Social signal continue to redefine how someone performs a search and will, in my opinion, play a larger role in ranking algorithms.

Predictions for the future of Search

Where is it all going?

In my opinion we’re going to see a lot more natural speech occurring (hummingbird). The reason I think this is because the amount of internet connected devices are increasing and shrinking in size. Take for example Apple watch. It’s basically a remote control for a smartphone with all the features. An individual can perform a search by speaking into the watch. I think natural speech and regional locality is going to play a huge part in optimization strategies moving forward.

Will augmented reality become more prominent? Can we expect to walk past a business and obtain their information directly? This may place a larger importance on reviews and check-ins from friends.

What more do they want?

Will search engines become more Intrusive? Since mobile search is taking over, will search engines have access to ALL of our data? Is it possible that SE’s will want to know our contacts, medical Information, driving records and credit score all to provide us with the best results possible? I think that’s a bit Orwellian but I’m not ruling it out.

Conclusion

  • An escalator may do the moving for you but that doesn’t mean the stairs won’t get you there.
  • Search may be a lot more difficult now but that doesn’t mean it’s no longer possible, it just requires us to put in more effort so our work is of the highest quality.

  • SEO is always changing and so should our strategies. Just because something worked 10 years ago, doesn’t mean it still will.
  • The future is uncertain but the warning signs are there. Be prepared for more change in ways that make the most sense.

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Posted in SEO

Where do we Draw the Line When it Comes to SEO?

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I’ll admit this is more of an open ended question then it is an informative blog post so, with that in mind I’d like to delve into where we as SEO’s should, or rather tend to draw the line when it comes to our work.

What are we Supposed to do?

As I started writing this post, Moz released a Whiteboard Friday where Rand asks a similar question: What does an SEO do in their day-to-day work? This is yet another great video by Rand which touches upon a few points that an SEO should What are we supposed to do?focus on after the initial website audit. This is also proof that I need to stop procrastinating and write more.

So what does this all mean? What I can say is that SEO is not a condiment that is added seconds before a site or app is launched. SEO is (or rather should be) a strategy that should be implemented from the beginning stages of website or app development. If there is no plan in place, you run the risk of causing more damage which will in turn cost more money and time to repair later.

So what exactly does that mean? What are our responsibilities to our clients? Are we only supposed to perform keyword research? Do we just post to facebook and call it a day or should be doing development work as well?

The answer is… maybe? There are different levels of and approaches to SEO which, in my opinion, causes confusion with company decision makers. A lot of terms quickly become buzz words which are often misused and misunderstood. One person could say you need to get as many backlinks as possible and another would stress only focus on on-page issues and content. How does someone in charge discern the right course of action with all these options?

I have spoken to many SEOs over the years, all with different backgrounds. Someone with a sales background are going to be focused on getting the most traffic to the site to increase transactions whereas someone with a design background is going to be focused on usability. There is not one method that is more important than another, at this point we know generally what works but more so what doesn’t work.

Isn’t SEO Just Putting Keywords on a Page?

As inbound marketers our best course of action should be to educate the masses as to what current best practices are so they have a better idea of what to believe. I get really annoyed when a client says their last SEO guy told them (X) where X is a decade old technique that can actually cause more harm. Personally, I make it a part of my job to educate my clients as to what I’m doing, why I’m doing it and why it works. This may involve sending them an email about an algorithm update or discussing the importance of local citations.

But where does that leave us in terms of actual work performed? What else should we be doing? What happens when there is a development issue involving URLs or a Google Analytics/Tag Manager code? Is it our responsibility to correct these issues? When am I going to stop asking questions?

The answer is, I don’t know. In my opinion all SEOs should have some comfort level with setting 301 redirects, updating source code (HTML) and changing some CSS settings. Our field is built on tectonic plates in that it’s always changing so we really should have working knowledge of coding; this may vary though depending on your company. Some companies only allow certain departments to make changes to a website so those requests need to be submitted to them.

At the very least we should have what I call dev-lite experience. This mainly involves making HTML and CSS changes, I would venture to say javascript and PHP are a bit more advanced. If your website is in WordPress there are plugins that make setting 301 redirects easier than having to edit the .htaccess.

Like any professional sport or hobby there are varying levels of expertise in what we do. There are some that stand out from the crowd while others fly under the radar. Both are ok as long as our goals are our clients best interests. Stay humble and honest!

So I reiterate my initial question, where do we draw the line when it comes to SEO?

I’d love to get everyones thoughts on this topic as it’ll be nice to gauge everyone unique approach to their accounts.

Conclusion:

  • Our field is in a constant state of flux so we need to remain informed and up-to-date as to current best practices.
  • SEOs should have a degree of knowledge when it comes to coding so quick changes can be made. This includes HTML and CSS.
  • Monitor your clients website activity to see what’s working and how your efforts impacted their success.
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Posted in SEO

Shine Some Light on These 50 Shades

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The highly anticipated 50 Shades of Grey was released this weekend and I, being a happily married man, was made to go see it.

The movie itself lacked a comprehensive dialog which made it difficult to follow (having not read the books) but I’ll let the critics mull over that one.

The one thing that caught my eye, despite everything else that was taking place in the movie, was the main character’s, Christian Grey’, watch.

Being  a watch guy I was hung up on finding out what brand and  style watch was there before me. I have watches that look similar but not that exact one so my curiosity got the better of me.

As soon as the movie let out I googled “Christian grey watch,” “50 shades watch” and “50 shades of grey watch.” Below are some (mobile) screen shots of what I found:

50 Shades of Grey Watch 50 Shades Watch 50 Shades Watch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Much to my surprise, nothing came up. I had to do a lot more digging to find out that he was wearing the AQUA TERRA SILVER DIAL BROWN LEATHER MENS WATCH, pictured below.

Christian Grey Omega Watch

Here is the watch Christian Grey wore in the movie 50 Shades of Grey.

What surprises me is that this watch is mentioned in the book, I am told, so the marketing department at Omega was well aware of the impact this was going to have on sales. So why aren’t they bidding on these terms?

The brand itself and retailers that carry this brand should create a campaign for all variations of these terms. Any time something is mentioned in pop culture it’s an excellent strategy to build a campaign around those terms as they will convert.

Not all the terms I mentioned have much search volume but there are variations that prove people are searching for that watch.

A slight downfall is that the phrase “watch” also means to see as in “watch movie online” but those can be added a negative terms.

This isn’t the fist time I’ve seen brands fail to take advantage of the free advertising, sadly it happens quite frequently.

Conclusion

Always bid on your brand, especially if it’s mentioned in pop culture.

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Posted in SEO

My 2015 Resolutions, So Far

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New Year’s Eve and Day snuck up rather quickly for me this year as I’m sure it did for most people. I was never one for stating or keeping my resolutions but this year I was a bit more meticulous in choosing what I wanted to improve so I’m making a conscious effort to stick to them.

Below are a few ways I plan to stay better organized and get the most out of my time moving forward.

Better Organization

In an effort to handle more work and get a better handle on my current workload, I have started taking better notes and notating my work. Some of the tools that have been extremely helpful are:

  • Google Drive. Here I can create spreadsheets or documents and update them from anywhere. This helps me because I travel roughly three hours a day (total) to and from work so having access to work documents from anywhere is a win.
  • Google Analytics Annotations. This small, almost unnoticed section of Google Analytics can save you so much time in the future. My advice is to annotate every change that is made on a website. This will save you a lot of time in the future when you’re trying to track down exactly what was done to report on (hopefully big wins!).

More Communication

  • Get out there more. Being a parent and commuting as much as I do (3+ hours a day) makes it difficult to do anything other than work, then routine chores around the house. One of my goals this year is to get out more frequently to engage with people in my field, make new friends and stay updated with current ones.
  • Increase my social media presence. I consider myself to be active on social media however there are some power users that I admire and would like to have the online presence that they do. To do this I have started to allot certain times during the day to check-in on twitter, update and browse Google+ as well as communicate more frequently with connections on LinkedIn.

Personal Time

  • I need to be greedy and schedule some ME time. Commuting, working and miscellaneous errands eat up a majority of my time and when I’m not doing the aforementioned I try to spend every possible second with my wife and daughter. This winter I have already managed to clean out my garage and set up some exercise equipment; the next step is to actually start using itJ. I’d also love to start playing music again but baby steps, I understand.

Create Something Worthy

  • Write more. I love writing and do it as often as I can but there are just not enough hours in the day to do all that needs to get done. As a result I often put off my research and writing to complete everything. I plan to block out at least 30 minutes a day to write and/or research a topic.

Conclusion

Resolutions do not need to be a hard lifestyle change but can occur gradually. As an individual in the search filed, being organized is crucial so increasing that will be a win.

If anyone can recommend other ways to stay organized or have products they use, please feel free to share them with me.

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Posted in Uncategorized

Search Box in the SERPs

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Adding Semantic Markup to Your Site

Google recently announced a new sitelinks feature that will allow the search box on our websites to start appearing in the SERPs. The markup can be found over at schema.org/WebSite.

What this does is display your websites search box in the SERPs underneath the sitelinks. This happens whenever someone preforms a branded search, for example, YouTube.

How to code microdata in WordPress

Like many other bloggers I use WordPress as a CMS (content management system) for my site. This makes it easier to update posts or entire sections of my site.

Adding microdata or semantic markup to a website can make several enhancements when your site is displayed in the SERPs. Having the search box appear is just another of the growing list of awesome things microdata can do.

To implement this feature you will need to wrap the following code around the search feature of your website, searchform.php, like so:

Without Microdata

?>

<form method=”get” id=”searchform” action=”<?php echo esc_url( home_url( ‘/’ ) ); ?>”>

<label for=”s”><?php _e( ‘Search’, ‘twentyeleven’ ); ?></label>

<input type=”text” name=”s” id=”s” placeholder=”<?php esc_attr_e( ‘Search’, ‘twentyeleven’ ); ?>” />

<input type=”submit” name=”submit” id=”searchsubmit” value=”<?php esc_attr_e( ‘Search’, ‘twentyeleven’ ); ?>” />

</form>

With Microdata

<div itemscope itemtype=”http://schema.org/WebSite”>

<meta itemprop=”url” content=”http://joerega.com/”/>

<form method=”get” id=”searchform” action=”<?php echo home_url( ‘/’ ); ?>” itemprop=”potentialAction” itemscope itemtype=”http://schema.org/SearchAction”>

<meta itemprop=”target” content=”<?php echo home_url( ‘/’ ); ?>/?s={query}”/>

<input type=”text” name=”s” id=”s” placeholder=”<?php esc_attr_e(‘search here &hellip;’, ‘responsive’); ?>” itemprop=”query-input” />

<input type=”submit” name=”submit” id=”searchsubmit” value=”<?php esc_attr_e(‘Go’, ‘responsive’); ?>”  />

</form>

</div>

 

Google gives us the example using JSON-LD but I prefer using microdata as I’m more familiar working with HTML.

What will it look like when I’m done

This screen shot shows what my current site looks like in the SERPs prior to me implementing this semantic markup. Since I only did this today I will update the post as soon as the search box starts appearing.

 joe rega serp screenshot

Clearly my personal brand is not strong enough yet, but that’s another blog post altogether.

How to test semantic markup

Google offers a structured data testing tool in Google Webmaster Tools where we have the option to test semantic markup on our sites. Here we can see if our coding is correct by viewing both URLs or the actual coding in HTML.  The following screenshot is of my site so I know it is set up correctly.

 structured data testing tool

 

How will this effect keyword data in Google Analytics?

My theory on this is that Google should pass all keyword data through to analytics since this is essentially pulling the search box from our sites. I’d be curious to see exactly what the answer is though; if anyone has any data on this yet please feel free to share that with me.

Although Google’s SERPs are constantly changing, features like this that enhance usability are great and I would like to see more changes like this.

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Posted in SEO

249 ways to increase traffic to your blog

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Right off the bat I’d like to apologize for the obvious link bait title however, I promise that by the end of the post I will have made it up to you.

What I’ve done here is compile a list of different techniques that can be implemented to drive more traffic to your blog. There are many popular “Top Ways” to increase blog traffic or numbered list of whatever blog posts available online.

The numbered posts are very attractive because they promise us something and immediately set our expectations.  But I have to be honest, although they may have a higher click-through rate when compared to other article titles, I’m tired of seeing them.

Why I Rarely Read Them

The market is flooded right now with numbered post titles such as Top 10 things3 Best Ways to and 6 Great Reasons You Should. Some bring up very good points, examples and tips while others are just link bait designed to get you to visit a site. In addition, a lot of them mention the same techniques throughout each post; I mean, how many different ways could there be to bring in new readers?

How I did My Research

Very popular among SEO’s  are Google’s search operators which are often used to fine tune results we’re looking for. These codes added to search queries reduce the amount of results that are returned making is easier for us to find something specific.  The following are a list of search operators and queries I used to find that data used to write this blog post:

  • increase traffic to my blog
  • “increase blog traffic|traffic to your blog”
  • * ways to “increase blog traffic|traffic to your blog”
  • * ways to “increase blog traffic” with

Using only the results found on the first page of Google I found the following 19 titles:

15 Tips to Increase Blog Traffi 21 tactics to increase blog traffic
5 Ways to Increase Blog Traffic 50 Tips To Increase Traffic To Your Blog
5 Creative Tips to Increase Blog Traffic and Boost Your Business 10 Tips to Increase Blog Traffic with Facebook
6 Tips To Increase Blog Traffic 6 Ways To Increase Blog Traffic From Facebook
50 Ways to Increase Blog Traffic… 10 Tips to Increase Blog Traffic with LinkedIn
8 Ways to Increase Blog Traffic 5 Tips to Increase Traffic to Your Blog With Pinterest
5 Creative Ways to Drive More Traffic to Your Blog Posts 10 Tips to Increase Blog Traffic with Google+
10 powerful ways to increase blog traffic to your blog 10 Tips to Increase Blog Traffic with YouTube
Increase Blog Traffic! 8 Great Ways That Really Work 10 Tips to Use SlideShare to Increase Blog Traffic
5 tips to help increase traffic to  your blog

Once I had the URLs and titles from each of the above I compiled a list of the total amount of ways to increase traffic to a blog, which is how I got the number 249. After I read each post and finished my list, the next step was to fine tune the results and remove any duplicate or similar techniques.

I removed suggestions such as submit press releases and create a posting schedule as presses releases should be reserved for product launches and big announcements and while posting schedules will help with orgnization, they will not directly impact traffic to your blog. Some other suggestions I removed were non-specific ones such as post your link throughout the internet.

While Google Analytics is very important to have to measure our blogs success, it too will not directly affect traffic to our blogs. But seriously, add Google Analytics people! It is important to see why and how one blog out performs another so that is another reason to set up tracking.

What was left was the following list so, without further ado, I present 125 ways to increase traffic to your blog.

 

You can stop scrolling now

As promised, here is the complete list of 125 ways to increase traffic to your blog.

  1. Add Graphics, Photos and Illustrations (with link-back licensing)
  2. Add Value to a Popular Conversation
  3. Add your blog URL to your email signature
  4. Add Your Blog Website to Your Pin’s Descriptions
  5. Aggregate the Best of Your Niche
  6. Allow People to Print, Share, Embed, and Download Your Presentations
  7. Allow Sharing and Embedding of Your Videos
  8. Also include guest posts on your blog
  9. Always follow those who re-tweet your content.
  10. Always use relevant alt tags and titles for your images.
  11. Answer emails!
  12. Ask and Answer Questions
  13. Attend and Host Events
  14. Attend (blogging) conferences and any “gatherings” related to your niche. Throw business cards around with wild abandon. Network like crazy.
  15. Be Active
  16. Be Human
  17. Be interviewed
  18. Begin commenting on other blogs
    • Be careful with this one, don’t overdo it. Too much of a good thing…
  19. Break news
    • Create a post about something that just happened
  20. Check Google Trends
  21. Comment on other people’s Facebook pages to drive traffic back to your own.
  22. Complete Your Profile Strategically
  23. Connect with People
  24. Connect Your Web Profiles
  25. Consider Guest Blogging
  26. Consider Including Annotations
    • This will keep your content relevant and fresh
  27. Contact the press directly
  28. Create “link love” posts and let each blogger know that you are linking to them.
  29. Create a “Frequently Asked Questions”
  30. Create a 6-Second Preview of Your Post with Vine
  31. Create a Facebook fan page
  32. Create a SlideShare Profile Overview of Your Post
  33. Create a YouTube channel.
  34. Create an infographic.
  35. Create an interactive experience
  36. Create and post to your RSS feed frequently
  37. Create and Upload Videos that are Relevant to Your Blog Audience
  38. Create articles on controversial topics
  39. Create both a “For Experts” and a “For Dummies” section
  40. Create Circles (Google+)
  41. Create pages on Squidoo and Hubpages
  42. Create Playlists (Podcasts)
  43. Create the Best Content you Possibly Can
  44. Create Your Own Groups
  45. Create your own local periodical meet up for bloggers or for your blog’s niche.
  46. Don’t Be Shy – Talk to everyone about your blog
  47. Embed Your Presentations on Your Blog
  48. Enable Subscriptions via Feed + Email (and track them!)
  49. Ensure All of Your Pages are Being Indexed
  50. Find Friends – Ask them to share your content
  51. Find out who’s linking to you
  52. Focus on One Specific Topic
  53. Focus on problems – offer a solution
  54. Frequently Reference Your Own Posts and Those of Others
  55. Get on Blog Catalog.
  56. Get on the RSS feeds of the top 3 blogs
  57. Get Rich Pins for Your Blog
  58. Give and Request Recommendations
  59. Give Your Readers a Reason to Visit Your Blog
  60. Guest Blog (and Accept the Guest Posts of Others)
  61. Hashtag Optimization
  62. Hold a competition or contest. The prize doesn’t have to be huge!
  63. Host Hangouts
  64. Host webinars with other bloggers – tap into their audience.
  65. Host your images on flickr
  66. Include a link to your blog in any and all online profiles you complete.
  67. Include Keywords in Your Video Descriptions
  68. Include Presentation Transcriptions
  69. Include Your Blog URL at the Beginning and End of Each Video
  70. Incorporate Great Design Into Your Site
  71. Instagram an Image From Your Post
  72. Install the related posts plugin.
  73. Integrate and Cross-Promote
  74. Interact on Other Blogs’ Comments
  75. Interact with peers on forums – Join & Post
  76. Interlink your pages.
    • Link to older posts as well as static HTML pages
  77. Interview other bloggers and tap into their audience.
  78. Invite guest posters.
  79. Jump on the Google+ bandwagon and create your own page.
  80. Keep Consistent With Your Posts
  81. Keep in touch with bloggers you know – nurture relationships.
  82. Keep Your Blog Current to Increase Blog Traffic
  83. Keyword Research
  84. Leave trackbacks on other blogs.
  85. Leverage the power of “versus”
  86. Link Your Uploaded Pins Back to Your Website
  87. Make It Interesting
  88. Make sharing simple – include highly visible social media buttons on your posts.
  89. Make Sure Your Presentations Include Your Blog URL
  90. Make your blog beautiful.
  91. Make your blog easy to navigate.
  92. Make Your Videos Public and Allow Comments
  93. Mention other Facebook pages on your wall and you will show up in their feeds.
  94. Never stop trying new things.
  95. Nominate Yourself and Other Blogs for Blog Awards
  96. Offer Free E-books
  97. Offer yourself up for interview on other bloggers’ podcasts.
  98. Participate in Q+A Sites
  99. Participate in Social Sharing Communities Like Reddit + StumbleUpon
  100. Participate in the Communities Where Your Audience Already Gathers
  101. Pin Your Post to a Pinterest Group Board
    • Provide amazing content that influencers want to repin
  102. Print some business cards. Hand them to everyone and anyone.
  103. Produce a video course.
  104. Promote Outside Your Blog
  105. Promote Your Facebook Link
  106. Provide Full Presentation Descriptions with Keywords
  107. Reach out to bloggers you like – build relationships.
  108. Referring To Your Posts And That Of Others Frequently
  109. Release a free product and ask your readers to “pay with a tweet”.
  110. Remember Search Engine Optimization
  111. Repurpose Your Presentations Whenever Possible
  112. Respond to your blog comments!
  113. Reveal pricing
  114. Search out and follow likeminded people on Twitter (search by keyword, or by hashtags, etc).
  115. Sell Things via Your Blog
  116. Share Blog Posts On Your Fan Page
  117. Share Your Best Blog Content Links
  118. Share Your LinkedIn Profile Link
  119. Showcase your top articles
  120. Start a newsletter
  121. Start a periodical newsletter to bring visitors back to your blog on a regular basis.
  122. Start producing a podcast and tap into the huge iTunes market.
  123. Submit Your Blog to Search Engines
  124. Submit Your Posts to Social Bookmarking Sites
  125. Submit your site to major directories

There you have it, 125 different techniques we should all start using to increase traffic and readership to our blogs.

My Two Cents

Using all of these methods may not be an option for some but there are plenty of new ideas here to try. I for one am excited to try several of these starting today! I sincerely hope that whatever methods you decide to use, they are beneficial to you and bring you success!

Please let me know if this was helpful to you and which new techniques you plan on using.

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Posted in SEO

Title Tag Length and Excel

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Recently, Google has changed they way title tags are being displayed in the SERPs, causing most tags to be truncated. Prior to this change, the rule of thumb for title tags was 65-70 characters which included any spaces and special characters. The new update has title tags showing up at a pixel width rather than length.

What Does This Mean For Me?

Should I go through my website and change all of my title tags? No. Your website may be ranking well in its current format so don’t go getting nervous just yet. If however, you titles are obscenely long and not preforming as well as expected, then I would advise switching some things up a bit. Web Shop Optimizer has created a great tool to measure the width of your title tags and will compare it to other versions you have entered as pictured below:

web shop optimizer title tag width

Screenshot of web shop optimizer title tag tool

 

 

 

 

 

Moz also offer a great tool (accessible from the first link in this post) that will provide a mock preview of the SERP result when you enter a title tag and target keyword.

moz title tag width tool

Screenshot of the title tag tool offered by Moz

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Can I Test This on a Large Scale?

The tools listed above are great but limit us from one to a few example of title tags. If you have a website that have more than a dozen or so URL’s, those options may not be the best use of time.

A quicker way to test your title tags

The other day I found myself working on a website w/ a few thousand URLs and couldn’t fathom checking the page title width for each page, one at a time. So what I did was find ONE title tag that was 512 pixels and pasted it into Excel. The Column width was 60.75.

Here is a screenshot of what it looks like:

excel column width

Column width dialog box in Microsoft Excel

 

 

 

 

 

 

The easiest way to test the current width of all page titles on our site is to run the website through screaming frog. This will provide us with a list of page titles, H1 tags, Meta Description and so on that we can then export. Once in Excel, right-click on the column that contains the title tags and choose Column Width.

The newly formatted column allows us to see if our title tags are too long and which ones can be adjusted accordingly.

My Two Cents

This is a great way to present a technical audit to our clients when they ask about best practices regarding title tags. I’d love to hear any success stories from anyone who has tried this method and presented it to their clients.

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Posted in SEO

The Demise of Foursquare?

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An article on Search Engine Watch the other day spoke of major reform coming to the location based check-in app Foursquare. The company will cease to exist in its current form as it looks to split into two services. Foursquare is aiming to restructure themselves as a local discovery service so they will continue to explore that as under their current name and will launch a new service called Swarm for checking in.

So…what does that mean? It means more personalization and deeper local search functionality. According to their blog, the company compares the current state of local search to the Yellow Pages and they are looking to add “expert reviews,” not reviews from strangers.

Personalization seems to be the big focus for this change and may also be their undoing. Personalization does have its benefits but can be limiting when trying to discover anything new. If you’re constantly shown things based on “your tastes” and by “people you trust,” that limits the discovery of anything new outside of your happy little world.

Will the company survive?

It’s hard to say since Foursquare is solely identified with their check-in service how people will act to a drastic change like this. Introducing a new app that is just for checking in when every other social networking services already has that feature is going to be rough. They’re essentially going to have to reinvent the wheel if they plan on keeping engagement up.

My Two Cents

Initially I think the new Foursquare will do great as they already have the public’s interest however, I don’t think they’ll experience the longevity they’re looking for. People will swarm to it out of curiosity but I don’t think they’ll continue to use the service unless there is a huge benefit to do so. I really like Foursquare and hope that I’m wrong but I’m predicting a dismal road ahead.

**addendum**

As of today, August 6, 2014, foursquare is no longer the location based app we all grew to love but rather a recommendations app that is set to rival Yelp. Personally I don’t see this taking off as people miss the classic check-in service that foursquare previously offered. Sure there’s Swarm but how many people are using that?

 

 

Posted in SEO

Is Google Targeting HARO Now?

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Broken NYC Pedestrian Traffic Light

Is Google sending us mixed signals about backlinks?

2014 has seen a lot of changes with how Google views backlinks. The search giant has taken action on several link networks in Germany, Spain, Italy, Greece and France this year and is showing no signs of slowing down.

An article posted yesterday by +Bill Hartzer mentions how Google is now targeting HARO and press releases as bad links.  For those of you who don’t know, HARO, which stands for Help A Reporter Out, is a resource for bloggers, reporters and other content-centric individuals used to promote their brands, services, products, etc. Until today, HARO was very beneficial in this regard as it helped many people connect and share their content.

I first heard about this story on a post by Rand Fishkin on Google+ earlier this morning where the debate over this continues. It may not be HARO itself that’s targeted but low quality sites linking to Bill’s content that triggered his investigation. Long story short some of the syndicated content was scraped by low quality sites that engage in “fishy or spammy” activity as Bill mentions.

No matter which way you look at it, link building is becoming increasingly difficult as SEO evolves. This can be viewed as a good thing in a sense that only high quality content will prevail but the uncertainty of what strategies are allowed is alarming.

My Two Cents

Be careful how and where you market your content. Bills story shows us that even trusted sites like HARO are still subject to scrutiny. Research and continually monitor backlinks to your site to prevent something like this happening to you. Set up Google or Talkwalker alerts to receive notifications any time your brand or content are mentioned. This will help to see where mentions and links are coming from so you can then determine if you need to disavow them or not.

 

UPDATED 5/1/2014

A followup story by +Matt McGee highlights some examples that Google may not be targeting HARO. Matt cites some examples that point out how low quality sites scraped content from the original articles, that did not have any backlinks, and those scraper sites had duplicate content and were modified to include backlinks to Bill’s clients. I will continue to monitor this and update it with any new evidence that surfaces.

Posted in SEO
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