Web Design, Mobile Apps, SEM, SEO, SES

Posts tagged ‘SEO’

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.

Example:

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

http://www.seomoz.org/seo-industry-survey

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

http://www.seomoz.org/seo-industry-survey?utm_source=social&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=industry-survey

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:

http://www.seomoz.org/seo-industry-survey?utm_source=social&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=industry-survey

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