SERPs = Search Engine Result Pages… The stuff you see after you enter a word or phrase in that handy-dandy search box on a Search Engine and hit ENTER. And SEO Consultants pay some pretty heavy attention to this stuff! :)

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5 Tactics to Boost Local Traffic

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I recently wrote an article for the company I work for, entitled “5 Tactics to Boost Local Traffic to your Vacation Rental Website” and it’s pretty powerful stuff.

Even if you are not in the Vacation Rental industry, these SEO or Search Engine Optimization methods and logic, that I go into great detail about in the article, are extremely beneficial to most industries.

My boss even gave me accolades in our meetings – it’s gotten the most re-Tweets, the most shares, the most likes and so on, compared to any other one thus far on the site, so please go read it. 🙂

5 Tactics to Boost Local Traffic to your Vacation Rental Website

21 Hot Online Marketing Articles

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It’s Friday night and I thought I’d drop this little Online Marketing Article Roundup into the mix…

One morning this past week, like most mornings, my Inbox was busting at the seams with Online Marketing newsletters, articles, tips, guides and so on.

It’s rare that I have the time to read them, letting my Outlook Filters, Rules and Alerts do their organizing tricks. Of course, with the intention of visiting them at some point in the near future.

But last night, after I finished teaching my Kung Fu class, I opened a few of them and found some interesting reads.

21 Online Marketing Articles to Read Today

We’ve got 6 SEO Articles, 4 Google Articles, 6 Social Media Articles, 3 User Experience (UX) Articles, and 2 WordPress Articles. There may even a Bonus Article at the bottom!

SEO

Google

Google

Social Media

Social Media

User Experience

User Experience

WordPress

WordPress

Bonus

Bonus

Pagination and Duplicate Content in SEO

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Pagination Duplicate Content and SEO

Pagination and Duplicate Content in SEO

Pagination and Duplicate Content is a very real issue within SEO (Search Engine Optimization).

Pagination is basically breaking up long "stuff" into shorter chunks, with a navigation system to move on to the next or previous piece.

Duplicate Content means pretty much what you’d expect it to mean, however…

Let’s look at what these things are, how they interact, what they have to do with SEO and what best practice to put into place.


Pagination

Wikipedia defines it this way:

Pagination as the process of dividing (content) into discrete pages, either electronic pages or printed pages.


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Paginated content exists all across the internet. Websites paginate in different ways. For example:

  • Long articles divided into several shorter pages
  • eCommerce sites might divide a list of products in a large category into pages
  • Forums often divide threads into URLs of a sequence

Duplicate Content

Wikipedia defines it this way:

Duplicate Content as a term used in the field of search engine optimization to describe content that appears on more than one web page. The duplicate content can be substantial parts of the content within or across domains and can be either exactly duplicate or closely similar. When multiple pages within a web site contain essentially the same content, search engines such as Google can penalise or cease displaying that site in any relevant search results.


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Interaction and SEO Effects

When you take a look at your average SERP, you’re looking at a list of (hopefully relevant) pages. That word, pages is key here. It’s what we optimize in SEO – pages.

Each page should have unique titles, descriptions, and most importantly, content.

So if you break up a long article across several pages, won’t each and every one of those pages have the exact same title, description, etc.? And that, my friends, is the rub.

What Google Says

In short, there are three things that Google says you can do in order to use Paginated Content and still whoop tail at SEO:

  1. Specify a View All page
  2. Use rel="next" and rel="prev" links
  3. Do Nothing

Specify a View All Page

Google attempts to detect the View All version of our content and, if available, its associated component pages. However, to make it more explicit, you can include rel="canonical" from your component pages to your view-all page to increase the chances that your series of pages are found.

Use rel="next" and rel="prev" links

Google’s default is to search for a View All page. However, if you’d like to override this, or if you don’t have a View All page, then using the rel="next" and rel="prev" links would be your best bet.

Let’s look at an implementation example. On the site, www.example.com, there could be an article titled abc and is broken down into three pages.

On the second page, http://www.example.com/article?story=abc&page=2, in the <head> section, you would put:

<link rel="prev" href="http://www.example.com/article?story=abc&page=1" />
<link rel="next" href="http://www.example.com/article?story=abc&page=3" />

Do Nothing

Um… What?

That’s right. Doing nothing is actually a viable alternative in the eyes of Google.

The reason? Paginated content is extremely common, and Google will still attempt to return the most relevant results, regardless of content’s pagination or lack thereof.

My Take

So out of these three options, what would I do?

Sorry but I’m not opting for doing nothing.

I’d honestly suggest doing both of options one and two. Create a View All page for your users; I imagine this may come in handy in other ways as well.

And also use rel="next" and rel="prev" links. This overrides the Google View All default, giving you complete control over Duplicate Content issues, but allows your creation of the View All page to help your users.

Keep in mind, however, that when using the rel="next" and rel="prev" links, they need to be complete and correct; one mis-step and Google will pop back into its default search for the View All page.

And here’s a handy little video from Google putting all this into perspective.

Social Search Research with Microsoft

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Microsoft's So.Cl

So.Cl

Microsoft’s Bing is rising strong and fast in the battle of Search Engines. Google experiments with Universal and Social Search. Facebook knocks out the competition. Google attempts to integrate.

I don’t know about you, but I’m seeing trends.

Last year a handful of students at select universities began testing a new Microsoft website: So.Cl.

Recently the site came out of Beta.

Social, Soshul or So.Cl?

Pronounced “Social”, So.Cl is a combination of Search and Sharing for Research.

Developed by Microsoft’s FUSE Labs (now defunct), So.Cl. is similar to Pinterest, in that you can “Pin” things, specifically search results. Web pages, Images, Videos, whatever you can think of.

As was once mentioned on their FAQs (they’re no longer online), “We expect students to continue using products such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other existing social networks, as well as Bing, Google and other search tools”.

Also on their FAQ, they mention:

  • “So.cl combines social networking and search, to help people find and share interesting web pages in the way students do when they work together.
  • So.cl helps you create rich posts, by assembling montages of visual web content.
  • To encourage interaction and collaboration, So.cl provides rich media sharing, and real time sharing of videos via "video parties."

What’s The Point?

Social Search. Privacy Concerns. True Analytics of Search. Micro-Targeted Ads. Oh and the end-all to academic research.

It’s wide open. So.Cl will be here for awhile and people will be talking (they already are).

I can see this as a pretty great tool for SEO, Marketing and others (I’ve already seen Spam & Scam on the site) in a Research context, but I personally worry about it’s over-saturation, as has been the case with every other hot new thing.

Do you plan to join So.Cl? What do you think are Microsoft’s true aims with this So.Cl project?

What Others are Saying

Ding! Ding! 5 SEO Tips for Bing

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SEO Mastery for BING

A bit more than a Ding

As you all know, Bing is the second-most used Search Engine, behind the obvious leader Google.

But did you know that there are some very specific things to look at to improve your rankings…for Bing?


5 Tips to Boost Your Bing

Take note that we’ll not be covering general SEO tactics here, as this is geared towards people who already have a grasp of the fundamentals.

  1. Webmaster Center
    Over time, Bing’s Webmaster Center has become more robust and now provides a very good look into the performance of your site and optimization efforts. Use this tool and Be Smart about it.
  2. Microformats
    The major players in the Search Engine world have all begun to support microformats. And in some cases, implementation provides extra benefits in the SERPs. Use them. The suggested protocols and implementation information surrounding them can be found at Schema.org.
  3. Geo Signals
    Bing doesn’t use TLD versions of their Search Engines, like you’ll find over at Google, but rather a variety of Geo Signals in order to determine for which country a certain page is more appropriate. Things like the physical location of the server, TLDs, incoming link locations, language, etc. And, although Google does not consider the Meta Geo tags, Bing does.
  4. Click-Through Rate
    Although Bing still allows you to get quickly indexed, whether you rise, drop or pop is heavily influenced by user interaction…So pay attention to CTR (Click-Through Rate) in your Analytics.
  5. Bounce Rate
    As mentioned above, Bing really cares about user interaction. If people are bouncing out in less than a minute, Bing takes notice, and so should you (as you should anyway).

Well folks, it’s not a lot, but it is power-packed. These very Bing-specific SEO tips could take you to the next level. Bing may not have been very important in the past, but that’s just not the case anymore.

Know of any other Bing goodies? Leave a comment and share!

Rel = Canonical – What the Heck is that?

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Canonical

NOT rel=canonical

Canon:
A general law, rule, principle, or criterion by which something is judged.
A member of the clergy on the staff of a cathedral, esp. a member of the chapter.
Canonical:
According to or ordered by canon law: "the canonical rites of the Roman Church".
As a Noun: The prescribed official dress of the clergy.

And what do either of these definitions have to do with SEO or even rel="Canonical", for that matter?

Nothing. Except, perhaps, for the idea of a general law, principle etc. We’ll see how in just a moment.

So when asked in a Job Interview, anything referring to the Catholic church or Catholicism is not really the correct answer; unless of course your job happens to be in that area.

So what does rel="Canonical" mean, why should you care, and how should you make the magic happen?

rel= "Canonical" – Why, What and How

Why should you care about rel="Canonical"?

Have you ever heard of duplicate content and the penalties that come along with it?

I’m sure you have. In short, Google is not a big fan of duplicate content and it could seriously hurt your rankings! Whether you have or haven’t, here’s a real-world example to give it some context:

Let’s say you’re running a site selling products (or services). And oftentimes these product pages can have exactly the same, if not similar content, but a slightly different URL. For example:


http://www.example.com/product.php?item=swedish-fish&trackingid=1234567&sort=alpha&sessionid=5678asfasdfasfd
http://www.example.com/product.php?item=swedish-fish&trackingid=1234567&sort=price&sessionid=5678asfasdfasfd

As you can see, there are two different values of variables in the URL – sort=alpha and sort=price. Regardless of how they’re sorted though, you’re still looking at the same list of swedish-fish.

And they will have the same, if not similar, content. So what do we do?

We implement the rel="canonical" attribute or tag.

You need to decide which actual page has the most complete, accurate and best content for this subject, topic or page. Once you’ve done that, you need to go to all of the other possible URL pages and put in the directive to tell Google "Hey! I know this looks alot like this other page over there, but I want you just to pay attention to this one page for the content, instead of all the possible ways you could find it."

So then, in each of the non-canonical pages, or each of the pages that tell part of the story with duplicate or similar content, we need to tell Google to go to this other page for classification, like


<link rel="canonical" href="http://www.example.com/product.php?item=swedish-fish"/>

Place this in the <head></head> section of these pages – all pointing to the one page that you’d prefer to be listed in the SERPs for that content.

Oh! And here’s a couple of extra pointers regarding rel="canonical":

  • It’s preferred to use absolute links instead of relative links, when specifying the canonical.
  • Do not try to "game" the system by using this to simply rank a page higher; you will get found out. And quickly!
  • If the preferred page does not actually exist – you’re at the whim and mercy of Google.
  • To an extend, Google can follow a chain of canonicals – but if you’re trying to game the system – see the second bullet point above.
  • Yes, you can use it to point to pages on another site…But again…Hopefully you get the point.

So you’ll either have to do this manually in the pages of your website, or if you’re using WordPress as a back-end CMS or blogging platform, there is a much easier way.

WordPress SEO by Yoast is an outstanding plug-in to say the least, with all of its wonderful functionality.

And one such piece of functionality is about rel="Canonical"!

After you’ve installed and activated the plug-in, go into your Page or Post that you need to get Canonical on, and scroll down past the content area into the box supplied by the plug-in.

Click on the "Advanced" tab, scroll down a wee-bit and there you have it: a form field labeled "Canonical URL". That’s where you would paste in the URL for the page that has the most complete and accurate content that you’d prefer Google to index and show on the SERPs for this topic’s search query.

Well folks, that’s it. Hopefully you’ve learned a little bit about rel="Canonical", why you should use it, and how to do so.

Oh and by the way, there is a way to use this for the whole www.website.com vs. website.com battle too.

Have you figured out how?