SEO or Search Engine Optimization Articles, dealing with the vast array of topics found within. No Black Hat here. Only good White Hat SEO topics.

Google Trends

Trends

(Scroll down for the Big List.)

Trends are powerful things.

Knowing what’s hot and happening now in the world can be fun. It can also be a great source of ideas for relevant content, linkbait and SEO (Search Engine Optimization).

As Wikipedia says, "SEO Trending is a technique used by webmasters to write content based on recent events on the web to get more visibility for their websites in search engine results pages."


What are Trends?

Think about this. Trends show the general direction in which something tends to move. They show a possible future, the "buzz" of tomorrow, the next hype, an evolving topic. Or…An opportunity for the SEO-inclined to push their websites up in the search engines, get more backlinks and new traffic.

Now think about this. When there’s hype around something, people will:

  • Speak about it
  • Get curious about it
  • Search for it
  • Share it

How Trend – Spotting affects SEO

What does this mean for the SEO Consultant and/or Webmaster? The trends and the hype provide a framework for a certain amount of success. Here’s some things to do during the hype:

  • People will speak about it
    • Listen to their words (keywords)
    • Join the conversation via Twitter, Social Media, etc. (real time search)
    • Create trust by allowing discussions on your site, forum, blog, etc. (user-generated content)
    • Become an authority by getting them to speak about the relevant pages on your website (backlinks)
  • People get curious about it
    • Understand intent behind the unclear questions and give answers (intent)
    • Give away more – value-added free relevant content (incentives)
    • Use all available channels to give answers (universal search)
  • People search for it
    • Don’t underestimate the rapid increase in search volume (search volume)
    • Google’s "Query deserves freshness" factor will push keywords to the top of the SERPs (SERP Promotion)
    • Create fresh content for these queries (fresh content)
  • People share it
    • Find creative ways of using the hype for Linkbait to get new links (link bait)
    • Actively use Social Media to spread content and generate new traffic (SMOSocial Media Optimization)

Tools to Identify Trends

But how do we identify them? We know they’re happening but we usually hear about them in the now or in the past.

Aside from simply listening in the proper places, there are many paid and free tools to do just that. We spoke about Hot Content Ideas from Google and The SEO of Search Trends, but what about a bigger list of Tools?

Well here you go. I’ve compiled a fairly huge list of tools for you to go out play and learn from (in no particular order):

I’ll understand if you need to take a break after that; God knows I do!

SEO Trend It and Spin It!

Definitely not advocating the Black Hat "Spin" methodology here, but more of the original intent of the word. 🙂

Now that you have a huge toolbox to find out what people are searching for and talking about, be a little bit creative and original in your content creation. Make it interesting so that people who come to you as new traffic, come back and want more.

Web Directory

Directory Listings

Last month we discussed the Whys and Hows of Local SEO, including localized content ideas, such as including rates and locations. We also touched upon some ideas for link placement, like local rating sites and directory listings.

But why Directories? Perhaps you’re thinking "Directories for SEO? Directories are out-dated and just plain dead!"

Sure – they’ve been around for ages. And they don’t seem to ascribe to the whole social buzz idea. I mean, directories were THE THING at one point. Well, before Search Engines got smart… Right?

Slow down cowboy. Many people still submit to directories, including the pros. Let’s look at the Whys – The Benefits of being in Directories.

Benefits of Directories

Directories have been around since the dawn of the Internet. They’ve been a trusted way to get listed and locate listings. But in today’s world, many feel this dying breed has no benefit. There’s some merit to that idea, but it’s far from completely true. There are still benefits.

Here are some benefits, in no particular order, of having your website listed in a directory:

  1. Affordable
    Most directories are free. And of those that aren’t – most are fairly cheap. Some niche directories. And although more expensive than their counterparts, are also extremely targeted. A small warning, however: if it’s free – make sure the quality & freshness are there. Some of them never actually list your site.
  2. History
    Directories have been around a long time. They were here before Search Engines themselves! And we know that Search Engines pay attention to history. Getting listed in a long-standing directory will have more weight than a fly-by-night set up.
  3. People-based
    Although some of the el cheapo directories will post your listing immediately, some of them have actual humans behind the site. And they manually review the submissions. These are of a higher quality obviously. You’re already getting your first live human test – via submission!
  4. Getting Indexed in the Search Engines
    New website owners have learned the difficulties of getting indexed in a timely fashion. The days of using the "add URL" page of a Search Engine are long gone. Today Search Engines like Google and Yahoo find new sites through links. Directories give you links. And that gives you increased visibility to the Search Engines themselves.
  5. Timeliness
    You’ve built a website and are waiting to be found by the Search Engines Even with on-page SEO, you know how frustrating it can be to sit and wait. So why do it? Most directories, even those manually reviewed, have a fairly short waiting time for being listed. So you’re listed on the internet, especially for your niche target, perhaps Geo-Targeted as well. You have a keyword-focused listing, and an immediate quality one-way link! The Search Engines will pay attention.
  6. Increased Brand Recognition
    Using your brand in the directory listing and linkage creates another digital footprint. This immediately increases brand recognition.
  7. Traffic
    Though you’ll get a boost in traffic from being listed, it will most likely not be huge. It will, however, be more targeted, and that is, afterall, a step closer to a conversion.
  8. Contextually-Relevant and One-Way-Links
    We all love one-way SEO juice-boosting links, and directories are a great place to get them. If it’s a well-managed directory, then you’ll also get the benefit of that link being contextual (a link from a page with topically related content).
  9. SEO Targeting

    • Niche
      Directories are categorized, going from broad to specific. This is much like a folder system and breadcrumb trail. For example, in the Yahoo Directory, the Search Engine Optimization Services sub-category can be found via: Directory > Business and Economy > Business to Business > Marketing and Advertising > Internet > Promotion > Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Can you see how someone arriving to your website via a directory might be more targeted?
    • Keywords
      You get to choose what text to put into your directory listings. This is similar to the Title, Meta, etc., so why would you waste another SEO opportunity? Just look at the above-mentioned "Niche" topic. See how the breadcrumbs can be keywords? Oh and maybe keyword focused (focused, not stuffed) anchor text & descriptions?
    • Local
      Thinking of how directory listings go from broad to specific, we can see how Geo-Targetting and Local SEO can play a role here. For example, if I owned a retail outlet in Atlanta, GA – my listing could be found in the Yahoo Directory via Directory > Regional > U.S. States > Georgia > Cities > Atlanta > Business and Shopping > Shopping and Services > Retailers. At the time of this writing, there are only two listings in this sub-category and only one of them is specific to the actual area. Opportunity there?
  10. Competition
    Is there some competition on the Internet? Just a wee-bit. This makes most of our online marketing initiatives – SEO, SEM, SMO, etc. – a bit of a challenge. The great thing about directories is the very fact that they are dying out by most standards. For example, Google & Bing shut down their directories, pointing folks to DMOZ. Why is that a good thing? Because fewer and fewer people are using them and even fewer keep their listings updated. This gives us an edge. And that’s a good thing.

Bonus SEO Benefit of Directory Listings

And for you serious SEO folks out there – here’s a bonus benefit:

Directories are completely unaffected by the Panda update!

Soon I’ll be covering some of the directories out there, but in the meantime, why don’t you go and see what you can find? Go get listed!

Human-edited directories are often targeted by SEOs on the basis that links from reputable sources will improve rankings in the major search engines.

Local Search Engine Optimization - Local SEO

Local SEO

Local SEO – its concepts, strategies and tactics, has become increasingly important in the Search Engine Optimization game.

Just look at Yelp, Google My Business or Bing Places to get an idea of this.

The key is localized content. Content that is specific to users in specific geographies. Now isn’t that closer to the idea of providing what the users are really searching for?

For example, sign in to Google. Search for movie theater. Voila! It’s localized and specific, helpful content.

Now let’s get into a few ideas of how to optimize your pages for local search (local SEO).

Creating Localized Content for Local SEO

Here’s a few ideas to spurn your campaign.

  • Shipping rates
  • Sales tax differences
  • Warranty repair locations
  • Dealer locations
  • Different uses for different climates

Local SEO: Ideas

Once you have some localized content, you need to link locally as well. We know the importance of links in SEO, right?

  • Local Yahoo! versions
  • Local Business Directories
  • Local Bloggers’ business sites
  • Informational sites about specific localities
  • Local Business rating sites

And there’s much more.

There’s also Yext, which now bills itself as the "Digital Knowledge Management Platform".

Ever hear of Yelp? They claim to be "best way to find great local businesses". Let’s look at some other ideas.

Local SEO: Citation Listing Services

Be sure to read the Top 10 SEO Benefits of Directory Listings. It’ll definitely build your confidence in directories, as well as your Local SEO campaign.

Hopefully this will help boost your creative juices and your local SEO campaigns will flourish. Good luck!

The Links of SEO

SEO Links Relationship

SEO involves links. We know this. It’s also known that Quality over Quantity is extremely important to Search Engines (and even more important to me).

But what do Google, Yahoo and Bing consider to be quality? Not to mention the fact that sourcing links for SEO can be a painstaking process. If we are going to take the time and effort to undergo this endeavor, we need to be sure we get our ROI (Return On Investment) – the link, and not the black-list.

Let’s look at 3 Important Factors to consider when sourcing links for SEO.


The best way to ensure Google finds your site, is for your pages to be linked from lots of pages on other sites. Google’s robots jump from page to page on the Web via hyperlinks, so the more sites that link to you, the more likely it is that we’ll find you quickly.

SEO Link Sourcing: 3 Important Factors

  1. Link Authority

    What is Authority?
    Some folks like to look at the number of total back links as if the high volume equates to quality, regardless of obvious SEO implicaitons. These numbers can often be misleading, however.

    For example, blog comments and site-wide links… In fact, many of us shy away from judging anything based on numbers alone. But if you want to get some linking in there for SEO, then you must understand that both Quantiy and Quality are very important.

    A small site that is an authority within a niche is a great find indeed – more important than simply looking at how many back links it has.

    Here, it’s not about the site’s link strength, but rather it’s about the trust it has built up. And this trust…You want.

    Especially in SEO.

    Remember the phrase "Birds of a feather flock together"? Well it sometimes holds true. And most Search Engines assume it is.

    So if you want your site to be thought of along the lines of trust, integrity, and thought leadership, you need to associate your online identity with other online identities that rock those things.

  2. Link Relevance

    What is relevant? First off, Spam is not. Secondly, and most ideal, would be an entire website devoted to your niche topic; your niche keywords…It’s where you want to network and collaborate – perhaps exchange guest posts even; for SEO and for overall win-win in life. However do keep in mind that if the site is too low quality, PANDA will drop you.

    But some topics have HUGE amounts of competition. Just think about "Ringtones" or "iPads"…But, think about "Downloadable Ringtones for Macs" or "iPad usage in the Workplace"; now that is a bit more specific, a bit more relevant, and a bit easier to deal with when it comes to link sourcing for SEO.

  3. Link Accessibility

    What is Accessibility? Wikipedia defines Web Accessibility as "the inclusive practice of ensuring there are no barriers that prevent interaction with, or access to websites, by people with disabilities."

    However, not all clubs are built the same. Just in and get yourself a link from a university or scholarly journal. Simple huh? Yeah, but not easy; not in the least. Sourcing quality, authoritative and relative links can be a trick in and of itself. How accessible is it? That’s the last key.

Don’t participate in link schemes designed to increase your site’s ranking or PageRank. In particular, avoid links to web spammers or bad neighborhoods on the web as your own ranking may be affected adversely by those links.

Spam

Spam

Spam. Long gone are the days of this word simply referring to a food item; A canned meat product made mainly from ham.

Now Spam invades our privacy, offends, annoys, and seems to be almost unstoppable.

We find it in SERPs (Search Engine Results Page), we find it as torrential rain in our email inboxes, we find it in our forums, we find it as personal messages and comments in our networking sites, and we find it as comments to our blog posts.

Today we find Spam everywhere, and it finds us.

What is Spam?

Spam is flooding the Internet with many copies of the same message, in an attempt to force the message on people who would not otherwise choose to receive it.

Most spam is commercial advertising, often for dubious products, get-rich-quick schemes, or quasi-legal services.

Spam costs the sender very little to send — most of the costs are paid for by the recipient or the carriers rather than by the sender.

What is Blog Comment Spam?

Spam in blogs (also called simply blog spam or comment spam is a form of spamdexing. (Note that blogspam has another, more common meaning, namely the post of a blogger who creates no-value-added posts to submit them to other sites.)

It is done by automatically posting random comments or promoting commercial services to blogs, wikis, guestbooks, or other publicly accessible online discussion boards.

Any web application that accepts and displays hyperlinks submitted by visitors may be a target.

Read more in Wikipedia’s "Spam in Blogs" article.

How to Spot Blog Comment Spam

As the administrator, webmaster, author, etc. of your site, your comment settings should definitely be set to require your approval before being published. You personally and manually need to decide if it should go up.

This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have some automated help via plug-ins, etc. to auto-detect (and delete) obvious spam comments; You Should!

However, some comments in your moderation queue may look a bit convincing. Here’s some tips to help identify common Comment Spam patterns (These are just a few – some use some or none; some use all):

  • First Name Only
    Spammers are vague.
  • All single-case
    All upper or lower case.
  • Comments are on Old Posts
    Usually at least 6 months old.
  • Short message
    The pattern use to be long messages, packed with links – but the pattern has changed.
  • Grammar & Spelling
    Most are not native English speakers, so you’ll see glaring mistakes.
  • Scraped Content
    These guys will often scrape content right off your blog and re-paste it as part of their comment!
  • Nonsense
    The "comment" usually makes little to no sense whatsoever.
  • Titles
    Commonly they’ll use the title of your blog post, site, article, etc. within the comment, like "I always Spotting SPAM Comments in your Blog so thanks"
  • High-Traffic Links
    The links will be going to sites that require high traffic to make a profit. Porn, Gambling, Shoes, Jewelry, etc. are common.

Hope this helps in keeping your site Spam-Free and if you have any other tips on spotting Blog Comment Spam, shoot me a note and let me know!

newspaper

Hot Content Ideas

Fresh, new and magnetic content is good for SEO and good for conversions. Finding inspiration for this content, however, can be a chore.

Google, the search engine, is one of the main entities that we want to take notice of our content. But Google, the monster engine of intent, is one of the main entities that we can use for the inspiration we seek.

Google News and Information Services

As we learned in The SEO of Search Trends, knowing what hot topics people are actually searching for can be extremely helpful for marketing in general, and SEO in particular.

Enter Google News and Information Services.

When someone hears a buzz or reads a headline that’s interesting in a newsworthy way, they’ll usually turn to a search engine like Google to find out more about it. Why not jump on the bandwagon and be one of the search results?

These Google Search services will help point you in the right direction of hot topics, provide citeable sources, and more.

  • Google News
    News from all over the web, collected into clusters; different perspectives on hot news topics. It’s really pretty cool.
  • Google Scholar
    Search Scholarly Journals, Articles & Patents, Legal Opinions & Journals and more for your research and citing.
  • Google Finance
    Google’s One-Stop shop for market analysis, business news, personal investment portfolio tracking and much more.
  • Google’s Knol
    Basically this is Google’s version of Wikipedia; a user-centered reference site. However the site has taken some strong criticisms for not being properly monitored.

Have a Google News and Information Service you think should be added to the list? Let me know.

social media monitoring

Monitor Social Media

Last week, I hinted that for marketing tools, you only need Social Media. That’s not completely true. But it’s a good start.

Social Media, indeed – the internet in general, is a vast marketing playground. What we need are tools that help us manage the conversations.

Enter Social Media Monitoring or Social Media Measurement, not to be confused with the SMM of Social Media Marketing.

When focusing on conversations or mentions about our selves, companies, sites and brands, we usually look similarly to what some call "Brand Reputation Management", or BRM.

So let’s look at special niche of social media tools…

Tools for Monitoring Your Brand (and others’)

When I first wrote this blog post, I had a whopping three tools to offer. Now, there’s so many to choose from, I couldn’t possibly include them all. However, this list of tools should do the trick to get you started. 🙂

SEO Page Speed

SEO and Page Speed Tools

Earlier I wrote that Google helps SEO via Speed, and several of you wrote to me asking if there were other tools around to help improve your SEO for speed.

Well, I’m happy to tell you all that, yes, there are several other ways to test your page speed.

As you may have guessed, Google’s web-based Page Speed Online PageSpeed Insights is not the only tool available. Here’s some other speed tools you may want to play with:

Good luck with your testing and hope ya pass! 😉 Seriously, though, people have a shorter attention span these days and it’s getting shorter by the second. They will click back and go to the next result in the search engine result pages if you aren’t quick enough.

So do yourself a favor, run the tests and work on the optimizations.

Zemanta

SEO with Zemanta

"Get the most out of your blogging time." That’s what the producers of a pretty cool tool says about their blogging add-on service, Zemanta (Acquired by Outbrain in 2017).

I’ve been looking into it, and Zemanta is indeed useful. Like the WP plug-in Insights, this nifty thing gives you all sorts of media suggestions, based on what you’ve written.

In-Text Links, Photos, Tags and related articles are all within a click’s reach! You can use it via Browser extensions, bookmarklets and Server-side Plug-ins (for WordPress or Joomla, for example).


Zemanta is a tool that looks over your shoulder while you blog and gives you tips and advice, suggests related content and pictures and makes sure your posts get promoted as they deserve to be. We at Zemanta are thinking hard to help make blogging easier for you. We’re engineering better creative tools to help you get the most out of your blogging time.

Zemanta for SEO

Not only that, but you can also sign up for Zemanta as a Content Publisher. And that means more SEO for you. CEO of SEOMoz (now just Moz), Rand Fishkin, says "Zemanta is, quite possibly, the most exciting company in the link building space today. You get direct links that send traffic and provide ranking value for SEO. In an average month using Zemanta, our site received dozens of links and many corresponding boosted rankings."

Check out these 5 Steps to SEO Success using the Zemanta Recommendation Engine:

  1. Zemanta indexes your images, articles, and content via full RSS feed
  2. When relevant, Zemanta recommends your content to 1000’s of Zemanta influencers
  3. Zemanta influencers can drop your content onto their site with a simple click
  4. The average Zemanta influencer has 700 Twitter followers and 1000 Facebook friends
  5. Your content continues to be shared, consumed, and linked to

Sounds good to me. What do you think?

Outbrain Acquires Native DSP Zemanta

SEO Page Speed

SEO Speeds for Google

If you’ve been under a rock or just haven’t heard, about a year ago Matt Cutts announced on the Google Webmaster Central Blog that Site Speed is a factor in Search Ranking.

And about a year before that, Google posted a YouTube video hinting about this change, titled "Let’s make the Web Faster".


Let’s Make the Web Faster

As a matter of fact, an entire section of Google Code was dedicated to Making the Web Faster.


Making the Web Faster for SEO

So now it’s official – Page Speed definitely affects your pages search engine rankings & SEO efforts.

And Google’s released a new tool to help you with it: Google Page Speed Insights, wherein you give it a URL, and it will analyze the speed factors of the page, giving you a "Page Speed Score" out of 100.

Not to mention that you can also generate a Page Speed Mobile analysis, for mobile browser optimization!

The Page Speed Score indicates how much faster a page could be. A high score indicates little room for improvement, while a lower score indicates more room for improvement. The Page Speed Score does not measure the time it takes for a page to load.

The results are broken down into four categories:

  1. High Priority
  2. Medium Priority
  3. Low Priority
  4. Rules without Suggestions

The great thing is that’s not where it stops. They actually give the details of where you can improve and HOW you can do it.

Go test a site and improve it – you’ll notice the difference.