Web Design, Mobile Apps, SEM, SEO, SES

Archive for the ‘SEO’ Category

The Beginner’s Guide to SEO: Chapter 3 – Why Search Engine Marketing is Necessary

Search Engine Optimization is the process of taking a page built by humans and making it easily consumable for both other humans and for search engine robots. This section details some of the compromises you will need to make in order to satisfy these two very important kinds of user.

One of the most common issues we hear from folks on both the business and technology sides of a company goes something like this:

“No smart engineer would ever build a search engine that requires websites to follow certain rules or principles in order to be ranked or indexed. Anyone with half a brain would want a system that can crawl through any architecture, parse any amount of complex or imperfect code and still find a way to return the best and most relevant results, not the ones that have been “optimized” by unlicensed search marketing experts.”

Sounds Brutal…

Initially, this argument can seem like a tough obstacle to overcome, but the more you’re able to explain details and examine the inner-workings of the engines, the less powerful this argument becomes.

3 Limitations of Search Engine Technology

The major search engines all operate on the same principles, as explained in Chapter 1. Automated search bots crawl the web, following links and indexing content in massive databases. But, modern search technology is not all-powerful. There are technical limitations of all kinds that can cause immense problems in both inclusion and rankings. We’ve enumerated some of the most common of these below:


  • Search engines cannot fill out online forms, and thus any content contained behind them will remain hidden.
  • Poor link structures can lead to search engines failing to reach all of the content contained on a website, or allow them to spider it, but leave it so minimally exposed that it’s deemed “unimportant” by the engines’ index.
  • Web pages that use Flash, frames, Java applets, plug-in content, audio files & video have content that search engines cannot access.

Interpreting Non-Text Content

  • Text that is not in HTML format in the parse-able code of a web page is inherently invisible to search engines.
  • This can include text in Flash files, images, photos, video, audio & plug-in content.


  • Text that is not written in terms that users use to search in the major search engines. For example, writing about refrigerators when people actually search for “fridges”. We had a client once who used the phrase “Climate Connections” to refer to Global Warming.
  • Language and internationalization subtleties. For example, color vs colour. When in doubt, check what people are searching for and use exact matches in your content.
  • Language. For example, writing content in Polish when the majority of the people who would visit your website are from Japan.


This is perhaps the most important concept to grasp about the functionality of search engines & the importance of search marketers. Even when the technical details of search-engine friendly web development are correct, content can remain virtually invisible to search engines. This is due to the inherent nature of modern search technology, which rely on the aforementioned metrics of relevance and importance to display results.

The “tree falls in a forest” adage postulates that if no one is around to hear the sound, it may not exist at all – and this translates perfectly to search engines and web content. The major engines have no inherent gauge of quality or notability and no potential way to discover and make visible fantastic pieces of writing, art or multimedia on the web. Only humans have this power – to discover, react, comment and (most important for search engines) link. Thus, it is only natural that great content cannot simply be created – it must be marketed. Search engines already do a great job of promoting high quality content on popular websites or on individual web pages that have become popular, but they cannot generate this popularity – this is a task that demands talented Internet marketers.


Take a look at any search results page and you’ll find the answer to why search marketing, as a practice, has a long, healthy life ahead.

Google Screenshot Yahoo Screenshot Bing Screenshot

10 positions, ordered by rank, with click-through traffic based on their relative position & ability to attract searchers. The fact that so much traffic goes to so few listings for any given search means that there will always be a financial incentive for search engine rankings. No matter what variables may make up the algorithms of the future, websites and businesses will contend with one another for this traffic, branding, marketing & sales goals it provides.


When search marketing began in the mid-1990’s, manual submission, the meta keywords tag and keyword stuffing were all regular parts of the tactics necessary to rank well. In 2004, link bombing with anchor text, buying hordes of links from automated blog comment spam injectors and the construction of inter-linking farms of websites could all be leveraged for traffic. In 2010, social media marketing and vertical search inclusion are mainstream methods for conducting search engine optimization.

The future may be uncertain, but in the world of search, change is a constant. For this reason, along with all the many others listed above, search marketing will remain a steadfast need in the diet of those who wish to remain competitive on the web. Others have mounted an effective defense of search engine optimization in the past, but as we see it, there’s no need for a defense other than simple logic – websites and pages compete for attention and placement in the search engines, and those with the best knowledge and experience with these rankings will receive the benefits of increased traffic and visibility.

Next…Chapter 4 – The Basics of Search Engine Friendly Design & Development

Written by Brent C. Johns of Indian Creek Web Design – www.indiancreekwebdesign.com – 208.703.2392

Indian Creek Web Design


The Beginner’s Guide to SEO: Chapter 2 – How People Interact with Search Engines

One of the most important elements to building an online marketing strategy around SEO and search rankings is feeling empathy for your audience. Once you grasp how the average searcher, and more specifically, your target market, uses search, you can more effectively reach and keep those users.

When this process results in the satisfactory completion of a task, a positive experience is created, both with the search engine and the site providing the information or result. Since the inception of web search, the activity has grown to heights of great popularity, such that in December of 2005, the Pew Internet & American Life Project (PDF Study in Conjunction with ComScore) found that 90% of online men and 91% of online women used search engines. Of these, 42% of the men and 39% of the women reported using search engines every day and more than 85% of both groups say they “found the information they were looking for.

Search engine usage has evolved over the years but the primary principles of conducting a search remain largely unchanged. Listed here are the steps that comprise most search processes:

  1. Experience the need for an answer, solution or piece of information
  2. Formulate that need in a string of words and phrases, also known as “the query.”
  3. Execute the query at a search engine.
  4. Browse through the results for a match.
  5. Click on a result.
  6. Scan for a solution, or a link to that solution.
  7. If unsatisfied, return to the search results and browse for another link or…
  8. Perform a new search with refinements to the query.

A Broad Picture with Fascinating Data

When looking at the broad picture of search engine usage, fascinating data is available from a multitude of sources. We’ve extracted those that are recent, relevant, and valuable, not only for understanding how users search, but in presenting a compelling argument about the power of search (which we suspect many readers of this guide may need to do for their managers):

An April 2010 study by comScore found:

  • Google Sites led the U.S. core search market in April with 64.4 percent of the searches conducted, followed by Yahoo! Sites (up 0.8 percentage points to 17.7 percent), and Microsoft Sites (up 0.1 percentage points to 11.8 percent).
  • Americans conducted 15.5 billion searches in April, up slightly from March. Google Sites accounted for 10 billion searches, followed by Yahoo! Sites (2.8 billion), Microsoft Sites (1.8 billion), Ask Network (574 million) and AOL LLC (371 million).
  • In the April analysis of the top properties where search activity is observed, Google Sites led the search market with 14.0 billion search queries, followed by Yahoo! Sites with 2.8 billion queries and Microsoft Sites with 1.9 billion. Amazon Sites experienced sizeable growth during the month with an 8-percent increase to 245 million searches, rounding off the top 10 ranking.

A July 2009 Forrester report remarked:

  • Interactive marketing will near $55 billion in 2014.
  • This spend will represent 21% of all marketing budgets.

Webvisible & Nielsen produced a 2007 report on local search that noted:

  • 74% of respondents used search engines to find local business information vs. 65% who turned to print yellow pages, 50% who used Internet yellow pages, and 44% who used traditional newspapers.
  • 86% surveyed said they have used the Internet to find a local business, a rise from the 70% figure reported last year (2006.)
  • 80% reported researching a product or service online, then making that purchase offline from a local business.

An August 2008 PEW Internet Study revealed:

  • The percentage of Internet users who use search engines on a typical day has been steadily rising from about one-third of all users in 2002, to a new high of just under one-half (49 percent).
  • With this increase, the number of those using a search engine on a typical day is pulling ever closer to the 60 percent of Internet users who use e-mail, arguably the Internet’s all-time killer app, on a typical day.

A EightFoldLogic (formally Enquisite) report from 2009 on click-through traffic in the US showed:

  • Google sends 78.43% of traffic.
  • Yahoo! sends 9.73% of traffic.
  • Bing sends 7.86% of traffic.

A Yahoo! study from 2007 showed:

  • Online advertising drives in-store sales at a 6:1 ratio to online sales.
  • Consumers in the study spent $16 offline (in stores) to every $1 spent online.

A study on data leaked from AOL’s search query logs reveals:

  • The first ranking position in the search results receives 42.25% of all click-through traffic
  • The second position receives 11.94%, the third 8.47%, the fourth 6.05%, and all others are under 5%
  • The first ten results received 89.71% of all click-through traffic, the next 10 results (normally listed on the second page of results) received 4.37%, the third page – 2.42%, and the fifth – 1.07%. All other pages of results received less than 1% of total search traffic clicks.

All of this impressive research data leads us to some important conclusions about web search and marketing through search engines. In particular, we’re able to make the following assumptions with relative surety:

  • Search is very, very popular. It reaches nearly every online American, and billions of people around the world.
  • Being listed in the first few results is critical to visibility.
  • Being listed at the top of the results not only provides the greatest amount of traffic, but instills trust in consumers as to the worthiness and relative importance of the company/website.
  • An incredible amount of offline economic activity is driven by searches on the web

Written by Brent C. Johns of Indian Creek Web Design – 208.703.2392

The Beginner’s Guide to SEO: Chapter 1 – How Search Engines Work

Search engines have four functions – crawling, building an index, calculating relevancy & rankings and serving results.

  • Crawling and IndexingCrawling and indexing the billions of documents, pages, files, news, videos and media on the world wide web.
  • Providing AnswersProviding answers to user queries, most frequently through lists of relevant pages through retrieval and rankings.
  • Imagine the World Wide Web as a network of stops in a big city subway system.

    Each stop is its own unique document (usually a web page, but sometimes a PDF, JPG or other file). The search engines need a way to “crawl” the entire city and find all the stops along the way, so they use the best path available – links.

    “The link structure of the web serves to bind together all of the pages in existence.”

    (Or, at least, all those that the engines can access.) Through links, search engines’ automated robots, called “crawlers,” or “spiders” can reach the many billions of interconnected documents.

    Once the engines find these pages, their next job is to parse the code from them and store selected pieces of the pages in massive hard drives, to be recalled when needed in a query. To accomplish the monumental task of holding billions of pages that can be accessed in a fraction of a second, the search engines have constructed massive datacenters in cities all over the world.

    These monstrous storage facilities hold thousands of machines processing unimaginably large quantities of information. After all, when a person performs a search at any of the major engines, they demand results instantaneously – even a 3 or 4 second delay can cause dissatisfaction, so the engines work hard to provide answers as fast as possible.

    When a person searches for something online, it requires the search engines to scour their corpus of billions of documents and do two things – first, return only those results that are relevant or useful to the searcher’s query, and second, rank those results in order of perceived value (or importance). It is both “relevance” and “importance” that the process of search engine optimization is meant to influence.

    To the search engines, relevance means more than simply having a page with the words you searched for prominently displayed. In the early days of the web, search engines didn’t go much further than this simplistic step, and found that their results suffered as a consequence. Thus, through iterative evolution, smart engineers at the various engines devised better ways to find valuable results that searchers would appreciate and enjoy. Today, hundreds of factors influence relevance, many of which we’ll discuss throughout this guide.

    Importance is an equally tough concept to quantify, but search engines must do their best.

    Currently, the major engines typically interpret importance as popularity – the more popular a site, page or document, the more valuable the information contained therein must be. This assumption has proven fairly successful in practice, as the engines have continued to increase users’ satisfaction by using metrics that interpret popularity.

    Popularity and relevance aren’t determined manually (and thank goodness, because those trillions of man-hours would require earth’s entire population as a workforce). Instead, the engines craft careful, mathematical equations – algorithms – to sort the wheat from the chaff and to then rank the wheat in order of tastiness (or however it is that farmers determine wheat’s value). These algorithms are often comprised of hundreds of components. In the search marketing field, we often refer to them as “ranking factors” For those who are particularly interested, Indian Creek Web Design crafted a resource specifically on this subject – Search Engine Ranking Factors.

    So How Do I Get Some Success Rolling In? How Search Marketers Study & Learn How to Succeed in the Engines

    The complicated algorithms of search engines may appear at first glance to be impenetrable, and the engines themselves provide little insight into how to achieve better results or garner more traffic. What little information on optimization and best practices that the engines themselves do provide is listed below:

    SEO Information from Yahoo! – Webmaster Guidelines

    Many factors influence whether a particular web site appears in Web Search results and where it falls in the ranking.

    These factors can include:

    • The number of other sites linking to it
    • The content of the pages
    • The updates made to indicies
    • The testing of new product versions
    • The discovery of additional sites
    • Changes to the search algorithm – and other factors

    SEO Information from Bing – Webmaster Guidelines

    Bing engineers at Microsoft recommend the following to get better rankings in their search engine:

    • In the visible page text, include words users might choose as search query terms to find the information on your site.
    • Limit all pages to a reasonable size. We recommend one topic per page. An HTML page with no pictures should be under 150 kb.
    • Make sure that each page is accessible by at least one static text link.
    • Don’t put the text that you want indexed inside images. For example, if you want your company name or address to be indexed, make sure it is not displayed inside a company logo

    SEO Information from Google – Webmaster Guidelines

    Googlers recommend the following to get better rankings in their search engine:

    • Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines. Don’t deceive your users or present different content to search engines than you display to users, which is commonly referred to as cloaking.
    • Make a site with a clear hierarchy and text links. Every page should be reachable from at least one static text link.
    • Create a useful, information-rich site, and write pages that clearly and accurately describe your content. Make sure that your <title> elements and ALT attributes are descriptive and accurate.
    • Keep the links on a given page to a reasonable number (fewer than 100).

    Over the 12 plus years that web search has existed, search marketers have found methodologies to extract information about how the search engines rank pages and use that data to help their sites and their clients achieve better positioning.

    So what you’re telling me is that this is just the tip of the search marketing iceberg and there’s a ton more? YES!

    Surprisingly, the engines do support many of these efforts, though the public visibility is frequently low. Conferences on search marketing, such as the Search Marketing Expo, WebMasterWorld, Search Engine Strategies, & Indian Creek Web Design’s SEO Training Seminars attract engineers and representatives from all of the major engines. Search representatives also assist webmasters by occasionally participating online in blogs, forums & groups.

    Time for an Experiment!

    There is perhaps no greater tool available to webmasters researching the activities of the engines than the freedom to use the search engines to perform experiments, test theories and form opinions. It is through this iterative, sometimes painstaking process, that a considerable amount of knowledge about the functions of the engines has been gleaned.

    1. Register a new website with nonsense keywords (e.g. ishkabibbell.com)
    2. Create multiple pages on that website, all targeting a similarly ludicrous term (e.g. yoogewgally)
    3. Test the use of different placement of text, formatting, use of keywords, link structures, etc by making the pages as uniform as possible with only a singular difference
    4. Point links at the domain from indexed, well-spidered pages on other domains
    1. Record the search engines’ activities and the rankings of the pages
    2. Make small alterations to the identically targeting pages to determine what factors might push a result up or down against its peers
    3. Record any results that appear to be effective and re-test on other domains or with other terms – if several tests consistently return the same results, chances are you’ve discovered a pattern that is used by the search engines.


    An Example Test We Whipped Up

    In this test, we started with the hypothesis that a link higher up in a page’s code would carry more weight than a page lower down in the code. We tested this by creating a nonsense domain linking out to three pages, all carrying the same nonsense word exactly once. After the engines spidered the pages, we found that the page linked to from the highest link on the home page ranked first and continued our iterations of testing.

    This process is certainly not alone in helping to educate search marketers.

    Competitive intelligence about signals the engines might use and how they might order results is also available through patent applications made by the major engines to the United States Patent Office. Perhaps the most famous among these is the system that spawned Google’s genesis in the Stanford dormitories during the late 1990’s – PageRank – documented as Patent #6285999 – Method for node ranking in a linked database. The original paper on the subject – Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine – has also been the subject of considerable study and edification. To those whose comfort level with complex mathematics falls short, never fear. Although the actual equations can be academically interesting, complete understanding evades many of the most talented and successful search marketers – remedial calculus isn’t required to practice search engine optimization.

    Through methods like patent analysis, experiments, and live testing and tweaking, search marketers as a community have come to understand many of the basic operations of search engines and the critical components of creating websites and pages that garner high rankings and significant traffic.

    The rest of this guide is devoted to explaining these practices clearly and concisely. Enjoy!

    Written By Brent C. Johns of Indian Creek Web Design – 208.703.2392

    The Beginner’s Guide to SEO

    January 18th, 2010

    New to SEO? Need to polish up your knowledge? The Beginner’s Guide to SEO has been read over 1 million times and provides comprehensive information you need to get on the road to professional quality SEO.

    Let’s Get You Started In the wonderful world of SEO!

    The Beginner’s Guide to Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an in depth tutorial on how search engines work that covers the fundamental strategies that make websites search engine friendly. You can either follow our blog to gain all of this wisdom, or to download your copy of the world’s most read guide on SEO, join the community of Indian Creek Web Design members on Facebook and we’ll send you a link to the file.

    In this guide, we will cover the following;

    Chapter 1 – How Search Engines Operate

    Chapter 2 – How People Interact with Search Engines

    Chapter 3 – Why Search Engine Marketing is Necessary

    Chapter 4 – The basics of Search Engine Design & Development

    Chapter 5 – Keyword Research

    Chapter 6 – How Usability, Experience & Content Affect Rankings

    Chapter 7 – Growing Popularity and Links

    Chapter 8 – Search Engine Tools and Services

    Chapter 9 – Myths and Misconceptions About Search Engines

    Chapter 10 – Measuring and Tracking Success

    What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?

    SEO is the active practice of optimizing a web site by improving internal and external aspects in order to increase the traffic the site receives from search engines. Firms that practice SEO can vary; some have a highly specialized focus, while others take a more broad and general approach. Optimizing a web site for search engines can require looking at so many unique elements that many practitioners of SEO (SEOs) consider themselves to be in the broad field of website optimization (since so many of those elements intertwine).

    This guide is designed to describe all areas of SEO – from discovery of the terms and phrases that will generate traffic, to making a site search engine friendly, to building the links and marketing the unique value of the site/organization’s offerings. Don’t worry, if you are confused about this stuff, you are not alone.

    Why does my company/organization/website need SEO?

    The majority of web traffic is driven by the major commercial search engines – Google, Bing and Yahoo!. If your site cannot be found by search engines or your content cannot be put into their databases, you miss out on the incredible opportunities available to websites provided via search – people who want what you have visiting your site. Whether your site provides content, services, products, or information, search engines are a primary method of navigation for almost all Internet users. (See: Search Engine Market Share below)

    Search queries, the words that users type into the search box which contain terms and phrases best suited to your site, carry extraordinary value. Experience has shown that search engine traffic can make (or break) an organization’s success. Targeted visitors to a website can provide publicity, revenue, and exposure like no other. Investing in SEO, whether through time or finances, can have an exceptional rate of return.

    Why can’t the search engines figure out my site without SEO help?

    Search engines are always working towards improving their technology to crawl the web more deeply and return increasingly relevant results to users. However, there is and will always be a limit to how search engines can operate. Whereas, the right moves can net you thousands of visitors and attention, the wrong moves can hide or bury your site deep in the search results where visibility is minimal. In addition to making content available to search engines, SEO can also help boost rankings so that content that has been found will be placed where searchers will more readily see it. The online environment is becoming increasingly competitive, and those companies who perform SEO will have a decided advantage in visitors and customers.

    How much of this article do I need to read?

    If you are serious about improving search traffic and are unfamiliar with SEO, we recommend reading this guide front-to-back. Again, there is a printable PDF version for those who’d prefer, (just simply join our community on facebook), and there are dozens of linked-to resources on other sites and pages that are worthy of your attention. Although this guide is long, we’ve attempted to remain faithful to Mr. William Strunk’s famous quote:

    A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts.


    Every section and topic in this report is critical to understanding the best known and most effective practices of search engine optimization.Please check back daily to our blog or sign up to our eNewsletter to get each chapter emailed to you.

    Written by Brent C. Johns of Indian Creek Web Design – 208.703.2392

    The Social Media Marketer’s SEO Checklist

    Jan 17th, 2010
    As the lines of SEO and Social Media continue to be blurred, it’s becoming very clear that getting a page to rank highly in the search engines takes a combination of the two disciplines. So what does the Social Media marketer need to know about SEO in order to make their social campaigns help with search rankings? This post gives those marketers who focus more on Social Media and less on SEO a checklist of ways to optimize for search before (and after) promoting content on the social sites.

    Normally in the SEO world, links are like money in that the larger the bill (more authority), the more powerful it is.  So for a long time, most SEOs blew off links from social sites like Twitter and Facebook since they didn’t have much direct SEO value because the links are almost always nofollowed [learn more about nofollow]. Now that we know that Google and Bing use Twitter and Facebook to influence regular search results, it’s time to start thinking about how the person in charge of Social Media can start to think like an SEO as well.

    Indian Creek Web Design #1 Google Ranking

     Obviously every organization is different, but many times the person running the Twitter and Facebook accounts, is likely a marketer, but not always an SEO. This checklist will guide the Social Media Marketer in your organization with some SEO tips and best practices to keep in mind as they start their next social campaign (or even they’re just pushing your latest blog post). [Plus I’ve listed lots of great links for additional reading. Learning FTW]

    Check Box Do Keyword Research

    Any SEO will tell you that keyword research is always one of the first steps when optimizing a site for search. Well, it’s no different in Social Media. Since your social campaign can now help influence the search engines it’s just as important to do your keyword research before getting started in the social world.

    The best place to start is with the Google Adwords Keyword Tool. You can start by inputting a couple keywords you think searchers will be looking for to find your content. Then the tool will show you estimated (e.s.t.i.m.a.t.e.d.) monthly traffic numbers for those keywords plus others that it thinks are similar.

    Now this may be something that you want to work with your SEO on but do a little research on the topic at hand and see which keywords really make the most sense to use. One thing to keep in mind is that you don’t necessarily only want keywords with the highest traffic volume, you want to find keywords based on their difficulty for your site to rank for them.

    The keywords you choose will come into play as you craft your tweets and Facebook updates, plus when you look at the Title tag and meta description (discussed more below). We ran a test to determine which would get a page to rank faster, lots of tweets, or lots of direct inbound links to a page. As of right now (about a month later) the Tweeted version ranks #1 for “ending hunger sierra leone” while the regular linked to version is lost in the shuffle. Although we still have more analysis to do, and more tests to run, this is a pretty big indication that tweets can influence rankings (possibly) more than links!

    Additional Reading:

    Check Box Set Up Social Segments for Tracking

    Whee! This is a fun one… ok it’s fun if you’re a big ol’ data geek (which I’m assuming most of you are). Before you even get started on your campaign it’s important to have your tracking all set up. You probably already have a specific way you’re tracking URLs (more on that below) but what about setting up an easy way to see all “Social” traffic at one time.

    Check out this post from Rand about how to Segment Social Traffic in Google Analytics it will walk you through the steps of setting this up.

    Indian Creek Web Design - Google Analytics, Advanced Segments

     The image above is looking at our new Team page and looks at Social traffic vs. all other kinds of traffic. It’s interesting to see that the spike in traffic happened about the same days for social media and other channels. Just think of the possibilities of having this set up for your campaigns!

    Check BoxRemember, URL Shorteners Matter

    When determining which URL shortener to use remember that you want a shortener that will do a 301 redirect from the short URL to yours. That way you can keep as much of that link juice flowing to your own site as possible. Also, be sure to use one that gives you some analytics about clicks and such, like bit.ly.

    We use a personalized shortener seomz.me through the bitly.pro service, which is essentially like using bit.ly but with our own shortened domain. It’s great we can get data about how many clicks a certain URL gets, what part of the world the clickers are from and the time of day links are clicked. This shouldn’t make up for your regular tracking but it’s an additional way to see how well your campaign is doing.

    Additional Reading:

    Check BoxMake Sure Content is Easily Linkable

    As a master in getting your content shared on the social networks, have you also thought about ways to build direct links to your content as well? I know for me personally, we saw a spike in social sharing once we (finally) added sharing buttons for Twitter, Facebook and Stumbleupon. But what about adding widgets and embeds to help build links to your page/site.

    Some content is easy to share in this manner such as infographics, graphs, etc. Take a look at what OkCupid does on their blog. When you reach the bottom of the page, you get this hover over that not only allows you to easily share the content on the social networks, but it gives you an easy way to copy and paste the link.

    Indian Creek Web Design - The Mathmatics of Beauty

     When you’re working on quick and easy ways to make sure your content is shareable within the social networks, also think about how to build links to the page the traditional way. Your SEO will thank you. 🙂

    Check Box Canonicalize The Page (what the what?)

    Yea this is a big ugly word SEOs use to make sure that the search engines only see one URL for a specific page. For social sharing this is something to think about when you’re setting up the tracking for your social shares. Whether you use Google Analytics tracking, or get tweets from an RSS feed, you’re going to have URL tracking variables appended to the URL.


    Let’s say I plan on doing a Twitter campaign around the 2010 Industry Survey. The direct URL looks like this:


    But the tracking URL that I actually want people to use so I can track it better in Google Analytics is this:


    While the search engines are getting better at deciphering all this, you definitely want to make sure that they can figure out which page is the real or “canonical” page. There are a few ways to do this:

    Rel=Canonical Tag

    Using the rel=canonical tag you’d point this at the URL without the tracking coded added to the end. Using the example above, if your tagged URL is:


    Then the rel=canonical looks like this:

    <link rel="canonical" href="http://www.seomoz.org/seo-industry-survey" />

    301 Redirect

    301 Redirect
    Many SEOs will claim that this is the "proper" way to do it, and most likely is. Unfortunately it's not always the easiest to implement especially if you're in charge of Social Media and don't have quick access to the dev team.
    Additional Reading:

    Check Box Check Page Load Time

    Can your site handle the load if the campaign goes viral? Obviously you're going to make sure that the site won't buckle under the pressure of all the awesome social traffic you're sending it's way, but what if it slows it down? You could have an infographic that takes a long time to load, or unnecessary JavaScript slowing you down.

    Last year Google announced that they're now using speed as a ranking factor (although a small one). Since it does come in to play though, and speeds can be affected if the traffic spikes, it's smart to be thinking about this. Whenever possible, work with your dev team to load test the page or entire site before launching a new campaign.

    Check Box Title Tag - Use Those Keywords!

    Remember earlier in the checklist you did a little research to see which keywords would be most beneficial to use? Now it's time to put them into play! It's too easy to use fancy shmancy titles in your social content because it's a bit catchier than a typical "optimized" title. But there are a few things to remember:

    1. The Title tag is thought to be the highest on-page ranking factor and having your keywords toward the beginning of the title is best.
    2. If your social efforts can help get a page ranking in Google, that title tag is going to show up in the results and

    Additional Reading:

    Check Box Meta Description

    The meta description isn't going to help with getting a page's rankings but in the social world it's often times the text that is automatically pulled into a social site. The best example is Facebook. When you add a link to your Facebook wall, it automatically pulls the title tag, meta description and let's you choose an image. Think of the meta description as a way to entice users to click on your link whether the user is searching on Google or checking out a page you shared on Facebook.

    Social Networking

    Additional Reading:

    Check Box Measure & Improve

    Yes! This is the best step actually. Determine how well your tweets are doing, then improve on them. As SEOs we're constantly talking about increasing our click-through-rate in the search results and on our pages. But what about the click-through-rate of our tweets? I highly recommend reading through Rand's post on Calculating and Improving Your Twitter Click-through-Rate to give you lots of ideas on how to make improvements.

    Whew! That's a lot to think about. Some of this you may already be doing, but if you're not, I encourage you to give these a try. See how you can not only improve your social media sharing, but your search engine rankings! Also, don't forget to work closely with your SEO to teach them the world of Social as well. :)

    Written by Brent C. Johns of Indian Creek Web Design - 208.703.2392