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2014 SEO Playbook: On-Page Factors

2014 SEO Playbook Welcome to part 2 of my annual SEO playbook. (Click here for part 1.) I have to thank Danny Sullivan and the Search Engine Land team for giving me the perfect outline for the 2014 playbook, the Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors. Part 2 will cover on-page factors, including content, HTML and architecture. You'll find more than enough food for thought and some very actionable steps. This is not a step-by-step SEO guide, and it's pretty informal. Before embarking on a search engine optimization campaign, do your research or consult with an expert. Content: Quality Quality was a big d [...]


How Paid Search Can Aid Your SEO Efforts

Don't you feel smarter? PPC and SEO have always been complementary marketing channels -- but have you been using this combination to its full potential? With keyword data now largely gone and Hummingbird making quality content vital to your SEO strategy, it has never been more important to invest in SEO -- but you may not have the time or the resources to wait and see how your SEO strategy shakes out. This is where PPC can help. Paid search provides immediate, measurable feedback into which keywords and content are performing well, so we can use PPC as a testing environment for SEO strategies. In today's colum [...]


2014 SEO Roadmap: Adopting Semantic Markup

Semantic Search & Knowledge Graph: Information Architecture & Website Structure In Google's relentless pursuit of organizing the world's information, the most exciting shift we've seen over the last year is about its ability to understand the "meaning" behind content (via the Knowledge Graph) and queries (via its Hummingbird algorithm update). In the past, Google had to rely on the words on the page, matching them to the words that someone searched on. Now, the revolution that is upon us is matching the intent of the query to the suitability of a page that matches that intent. This has significant implications for SEOs; and, as I speak with some of the smartest SEOs [...]


In Quality Raters’ Handbook, Google Adds Higher Standards For “Your Money Or Your Life” Websites

google-search-quality-featured Google's continuing push toward identifying expertise and authority on the web takes another step in the form of a new type of website/landing page classification: "Your Money or Your Life." It's explained in detail in a new version of Google's "Search Quality Ratings Guidelines" -- the document that's used by the company's cadre of human Search Quality Raters. Version 4.2 (dated June 7, 2013) of that private document recently leaked online via a private SEO community and a Search Engine Land reader shared it with us. A Google spokesperson has confirmed for us that the document is legitima [...]


Uncloaking Keyword-Specific Organic Traffic To Your Site In The Not Provided Era

no-keywords-not-provided-featured Google recently released news that it is now moving to encrypt all organic search activity. This means that analytics programs will no longer be able to report on keyword terms that drive organic traffic from Google, instead noting the data as being "not provided." This could be devastating to marketing managers and webmasters who rely heavily on this search data to determine ROI on their organic campaigns. With the data obfuscated from analytics programs, many feel that the organic search marketing channel has been stricken from the record as a legitimate marketing channel. This data o [...]


Future SEO: Linked Open Data (LOD)

touchscreen As mentioned in my column on string entity optimization, the use of structured data allows search engines like Google to understand your page content so it can display better search results, or answers, to user queries. This month, I'll focus on Linked Open Data (LOD), which will allow you to publish structured data so it can be interlinked to establish relationships. This is important, as the relationship between words allows a clear understanding of site content by search bots. In my column about understanding entity search, I explained how semantic search uses an ontology (or l [...]


Eating My (Key)Words: Changing The Way We Think About SEO

trees I have glimpsed the future of search, and it is not keyword-driven. While I have long been an advocate of using keywords as an indicator of a searcher’s intent, I am about to eat my words. The truth is that search is heading in a direction that most of us could not have foreseen… a technically complex and varied amalgamation of platforms, devices, and inputs. What I mean by this is that as the search engines become more focused on discovering user intent based on various elements that can be measured before a user even types anything -- location, search history, mobility, circles, et [...]


How To Use The Marketing Funnel For SEO & Inbound Marketing

Marketing Funnel This month, I'm going to discuss content marketing strategy as it relates to search engine optimization. A lot of businesses get this wrong by focusing too tightly on the sales parts of the marketing funnel. With PPC, Money Buys Placement Before I get into SEO, let's examine PPC as a contrasting approach. In paid search, you rent access to a search engine's audience. That means, unless you're doing a branding campaign, conversions and ROI are paramount. This makes it logical to begin with keywords possessing high searcher intent for buying. Once you get your selling keywords running on all c [...]


Moz Search Ranking Factors Survey: Page Authority, Google +1′s & Links Lead

moz Moz announced the release of the full 2013 search ranking factors study they have been working on throughout the year. Keep in mind, this is comprised of sending out a survey to 120 SEO experts, asking them to rank each factor on a scale of importance. Moz then uses that data, alongside of their correlation metrics to come up with a list of the most important ranking factors based on the responses. This does not mean the list represents the actual most important ranking factors. In fact, one of the top factors listed, Google +1's, has been claimed to not be a direct, unpersonalized, rank [...]


Organic Vs. Paid: What $10 Million In Search Revenue For Hewlett-Packard Tells Us

click-share-top-position It certainly isn't the first look at the relationship between paid and organic search, but new a new study by Resolution Media and Kenshoo claims to put an end to the debate over whether paid search campaigns cannibalize organic revenue or add incremental value, even when organic visibility is substantial. Search agency Resolution Media and Kenshoo, a marketing technology company, analyzed a year's worth of US paid and organic campaign data from Imaging and Printing Group (IPG) of Hewlett Packard (HP). The data set included only clicks and visits in instances where both a paid listing and a [...]


Study Shows No Clear Evidence That Google+ Drives Ranking

google-plus-featured At SMX Advanced, I presented results from a study we had done that convinced me that links in shares from Google Plus and Facebook behave like traditional web-based links. My statements at SMX Advanced were later disputed by Matt Cutts during his keynote interview by Danny Sullivan, leading to a live discussion -- Matt even invited me up on stage during the keynote: [caption id="attachment_171790" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Image Credit: BruceClay.com[/caption] As a result of my keynote visitation, Matt and I agreed that I would rerun the study, this time with some guidance from hi [...]


How Search Engines Work — Really!

how-search-engines-work For those of us in SEO (or aspiring to be), there are a lot of little details that fill our days. Server architecture, 301 redirects, 404 errors, title tags, and various other things. Sometimes, we forget to sit back and figure out what it all means. Add to that the fact that most SEOs were never trained, but just picked things up "on the job," and it's no surprise that most SEOs don't really know how search engines work. When's the last time you sat down and considered how search engines (like Google) really work? For me, it was last month, while writing the post about a recent Google W [...]


SEO Checklist For Startup Websites

Focus Your SEO on Revenue and Profit Startups have a lot going on. Staffing, outreach, overhead, paperwork, development, testing, financing -- and that's just before lunch. Regardless of the industry, startups are by their nature volatile businesses that are stuck bootstrapping much of the heavy lifting early on in their lifecycle. [caption id="attachment_141624" align="alignright" width="200"] Image via Shutterstock[/caption] While entrepreneurs are experts in their given fields and may even know quite a bit about conducting business online, it's unlikely that they are worried about SEO considerations. However, you don't n [...]


What It Takes To Create A Winning Mobile SEO Strategy: 5 Questions With Humana’s Mobile Manager

5-Questions According to a study conducted by Pure Oxygen Labs earlier this year, Humana was one of only six top 100 Fortune 500 companies whose website met Google's mobile SEO requirements. In light of Google's focus on mobile, mobile SEO is something all companies should be considering - not just Fortune 500 organizations, and definitely more than six percent of the top 100 Fortune 500. It was only a few months ago when Google's head of Web spam Matt Cutts told an audience at the SMX West Conference, "You really need to be thinking about mobile. We’re starting to think a lot about mobile." Googl [...]


SEO Ambiguity & Pattern Recognition

seo-ambiguity As search marketers, we constantly have to deal with ambiguity -- whether trying to reverse engineer a Google algorithm or simply prioritize and forecast the impact of the SEO recommendations we're making. In this article, we're going to explore what drives SEO ambiguity. Spoiler alert: some major survival skills are required. When dealing with SEO ambiguity, it's important first to note that the human brain is predisposed to seeking out meaningful and meaningless patterns. This concept, defined as "patternicity" by Skeptic Magazine founder, Michael Shermer, potentially creates two types of [...]


6 SEO Challenges Every Business Owner & Marketer Must Contend With In 2014

seo-featured There isn't much left of this year. Companies that haven't started planning their marketing strategy and budgeting for 2014 must begin soon. When it comes to online marketing, most businesses rely excessively upon Web analytics to decide what was (or wasn't) effective. What they find affects future decisions about where to invest time and money. Even radical decisions like firing internal staff, replacing an SEO consultant/agency, or doing away with SEO altogether are made on the basis of data thrown up by their stats package. SEO consultants like ourselves need to report results and pro [...]


9 Things We Should Never Stop Doing in Link Building

link-building-tactics1 A couple of months ago, I went on a little rant. (It happens sometimes; I'm looking into it.) I was overwhelmed by the responses that little column generated, with others picking up my rally cry to eliminate super shady link building practices. But commenters were also quick to point out that there is a lot of focus these days on what not to do. "We know (or should know) what not to do, but when left with only those options, you're peppered with client requests to bulk up link building efforts." He's so right. It seems as though for every 15 articles there are about what not to do in lin [...]


How One Brand Switched A Million URLs & Lived To Tell About It: 5 Questions With HomeAdvisor.com

http-url-web-featured Last year, home improvement company HomeAdvisor.com underwent a monumental rebranding effort that included switching more than 10 million URLS from their previous company name to their new brand. With over $200 million in revenue at risk and thirteen years worth of online brand equity, HomeAdvisor.com's CEO Chris Terrill and CTO Brandon Ridenour understood switching the site's URL would be a major undertaking, but necessary to establish the best foundation for building a stronger online brand presence. "We needed to narrow our brand's focus," said Terrill, "We know it's the strongest bra [...]


Penalized & Sad: When To Abandon The Sinking SEO Ship

Penalized and Sad Sometimes the captain can’t afford to go down with the ship, no matter the temptation or emotional investment. Every few weeks, I receive another hopeless phone call from another desperate webmaster. Since Penguin, I've seen more ships go down than I care to count. Websites that have delved too deeply into black hat SEO and spam tactics of the past have paid a heavy fine -- for many, the ultimate price. So, how do you know when it's time to abandon the sinking ship? Well, let me walk you through it the same way I do on calls. But please, bear in mind that this is only my professi [...]


Demystifying Link Disavowals, Penalties & More

disavow-links-featured [caption id="attachment_169618" align="alignright" width="269"] Google Webmaster Hangout[/caption] Findings from a recent Google Webmaster Hangout on Air (video) demystify link disavowals, penalties and more. Read on for the official word from John Mueller, Webmaster Trends Analyst from Google and friend to webmasters everywhere. First, Some Background Last month, I introduced Five Steps To Clean Up Your Links like A Techie. The commenters on the post had a lot of good questions, and I wanted to begin this month with a few clarifications. First, the development of that list was meant [...]


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Search Engine Land Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors

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