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October 15 2013

13:30

Everything in Its Right Place: An Interview with Ahava Leibtag

These days, it seems that nothing’s more hotly contested than the role of content within our organizations: content is the brand, content is conversation, content is king. It’s a confusing landscape even for content strategists, those of us who specialize in the stuff! And that’s what makes Ahava Leibtag’s last book so special: Ahava takes the problem of “crafting good content” head on.

In addition to being President and owner of Aha Media Group, Ahava Leibtag is a content expert, focusing on content marketing and strategy. In her recent book, The Digital Crown, Ahava provides a whirlwind of brand and messaging best practices, examples of successful persona creation and messaging architecture, and even shares advice on how to present content strategy to C-level execs.

After reading the first chapter (free!) of The Digital Crown, we were keen to interview Ahava and get a deeper understanding of her motivations and influences in bringing this book to content marketers and content strategists. Join us as we learn from Ahava’s experience—and then find out how you can get a free copy of The Digital Crown!

You begin your book by comparing a website to a conversation, a comparison that author Ginny Reddish also made in her classic, “Letting Go of the Words.” —
The idea of content as a conversation definitely came from Ginny, although it was also shaped by The Cluetrain Manifesto’s conception of the Web as vast marketplace.

Another one of the guiding principles I advocate in the book is aligning your content with your business objectives. I know that seems obvious and most organizations think they are doing it, but oftentimes they aren’t. Instead, they’re creating content to satisfy stakeholders (rather than customers).

Thinking about content as a conversation between the brand and an audience gives businesses a pragmatic framework.

What other books and ideas inspired you as you wrote The Digital Crown?
Other books that were very inspirational to me were Content Strategy for the Web by Kristina Halvorson, many of Gerry McGovern’s ideas, and Switch by Dan and Chip Heath. Kristina’s book is foundational; it covers a lot of the details of how to do content strategy; Gerry really wants us to focus on our customers (something I also stress in the book); and Switch spoke to me because, so often, content professionals are tasked with shaping organizational change.

One of the things I write in the book is, “In essence, a company has to experience a cultural shift in order to create outstanding, winning content. Shifts only happen with guiding principles and support.” I learned more about how to do that from reading Switch and I think it’s critical for any content professional—whether in-house or at an agency—to understand how to suggest those changes for organizations.

n one of your examples you discuss the infamous “United Breaks Guitars” video, a shining example of a conversation in which a company lost control. Many companies are criticized for being too controlling of the brand (and losing valuable free advertising), however, such as when Microsoft sued a fan for getting a tattoo of a Halo character. How do companies find the right balance?
Businesses need to decide when to get involved based on risk assessment. We can measure damage in the past, but it’s a lot harder to measure the positives that might have been. (That’s why it’s a good idea to have post-mortems after things like this!)

Strong businesses develop a matrix—something unique to their company—for when and how to should get involved. I also think companies think “control” means directing the conversation, but control can also mean just letting fans know that you are watching, letting people know that you care.

Brand consistency is a very hot topic addressed in your book. What recommendations do you have for companies whose brand is shifting, if the current employees don’t exemplify the new brand?
Brand training. Training is critically important. It’s also important to have employees on the front lines—what about making them do a shift in the call center or going out to the retail stores to learn what is going on?

Being in touch with the customer is vital. In chapter one I tell the story of Brian, a salesperson who initially sells products really well because he focuses on customers. When he goes to product training, though, he starts focusing on products and soon learns he can’t sell a thing because he’s shifted his focus from what the customer needs to what he’s trying to sell.

If all else fails, I think companies are right to change employees, especially when those employees don’t get the brand personality. Let the employee find a job better for them and let the company fulfill its goals. J.C. Penney is the perfect example of this: they hired the wrong CEO, their profits dropped precipitously, and they got rid of him. Right decision. I hope it doesn’t sound ruthless. At the end of the day, employees are paid to do what the company needs them to do.

I love that you compare a brand to a promise. What should a company take into consideration when choosing the right “promise” to make?
Three things:
  • Can employees actually deliver it?
  • Do they truly believe in it?
  • And can they easily communicate what it is to everyone in the organization?
Marshall McLuhan famously suggested that the “medium is the message.” How do you think that relates to the work that we do? Does crafting a unique brand—or a unique message—require crafting our own medium?
I actually cover this exact phrase later in the book, but think it’s the other way around—every unique medium means we need to tweak the messaging. For example, visual content does really well on Facebook because it shows up in the news feed. On Twitter, providing a link to a picture may or may not do well considering how well the link is teased and if people feel like clicking on the link.

Our job is to make sure that content is fueling the sales process (or the achievement threshold: increasing donors, patients, students, public health downloads etc.) I’m not sure how we would craft our own medium, but I do think we need to choose content formats wisely so they appeal to the right audiences in the right place at the right time when they are primed to buy or listen.

Last question! Many companies struggle with the gap between “how they’re perceived” and “how they want to be perceived.” How do you recommend companies deal with this gap?
I have an entire exercise called identity pillars and articulation statements that comprises the bulk of Chapter 7, called Framing your Content. I talk about how to create identity pillars (a tool I created for just this type of brand management), messaging architecture and voice & tone. When you have those three tools, as well as your customer personas fleshed out, you’re ready to start creating some killer content that will convert your web traffic into customers.

Many thanks, again, to Ahava for sharing her insights with us! If you have a question that wasn’t answered above, feel free to ask it in the comments below.

Want to win a copy?

Interested readers can pre-order a copy of Ahava’s book, The Digital Crown: Winning at Content on the Web, on Amazon.com. If you’d rather just win a copy, though (and who wouldn’t?), simply follow @uxbooth on twitter and leave a comment with your twitter handle below, answering the question: what is your greatest challenge with content? How do you hope The Digital Crown will help you address that challenge? Ahava will review the responses within a week of this post, and we’ll contact one lucky winner over Twitter. See you in the comments below!


The post Everything in Its Right Place: An Interview with Ahava Leibtag appeared first on UX Booth.

September 05 2013

15:27

11 Best Tools That Can Be Useful To Improve Your Website SEO

SEO or Search Engine Optimization is one of the most crucial and necessary aspects of any website. If a website wants to rank good on search engine, it must be optimized for it. Loads of search engine optimizing tools are available online and many people are taking advantage of it. Since SEO and SEO tools are very helpful to improve the performance of a website, we thought to compile a collection of some of the best SEO tools that can truly help you improve your website performance.

Below, you will find 11 best and very useful SEO tools. These tools will truly help you improve your ranking on search engines and get more visitors to your website. Let us take a look at this collection. Enjoy!

Majestic SEO

Find out how all the websites on the internet link to each other with the largest Link Intelligence database on the planet. No other site or search engine gives you as much detailed information about how the fabric of the web is knitted together.

Moz

Meet Moz.com. We’re obsessed with better marketing. Our mission is to build analytics tools and a community that make it possible for anyone to do.

SEOquake

SEOquake is a popular and handy analytic seo-tool for Firefox, Chrome and Opera browsers. SEOquake helps to obtain an information about any site for a wide range of parameters such as page rank, Google index, Alexa and many others.

Google Webmaster Central

Get data, tools and diagnostics for a healthy, Google-friendly site.

Online Sitemap Generator

Free Online Google Sitemap Generator.

SEO Site Checkup

Find comprehensive search engine optimization (SEO) tools for your site.

Adobe Site Catalyst

Create customized dashboards and reports and share them in a variety of formats and channels. Using Adobe® Analytics, you’ll quickly identify the most profitable paths through digital assets, determine where visitors are navigating away, and identify critical success metrics for online marketing campaigns.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics lets you measure your advertising ROI as well as track your Flash, video, and social networking sites and applications.

SEMrush

SEMrush – service for competitors research, shows organic and Ads keywords for any site or domain.

SEO Tool Set

We offer free SEO tools that run from our servers. Run them instantly without downloads. These are free version of our SEOToolSet product. No registration, just free SEO tools.

IIS SEO Toolkit

The IIS Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Toolkit helps Web developers, hosting providers, and Web server administrators to improve their Web site’s relevance in search results by recommending how to make the site content more search engine-friendly. The IIS SEO Toolkit includes the Site Analysis module, the Robots Exclusion module, and the Sitemaps and Site Indexes module, which let you perform detailed analysis and offer recommendations and editing tools for managing your Robots and Sitemaps files.

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20:51

August 05 2013

04:38

How to Implement AJAX Without Killing Your SEO and Accessibility Efforts

Advertise here with BSA


In the past few years we’ve seen a lot of changes in this big World Wide Web land, with a lot of different emerging devices, techniques and tools. HTML5, AJAX, Accessibility are the kind of stuff that just didn’t exist back when things were simpler, websites were created using front page and table tables were used to structure your layout.

A few things may sound pretty crazy now, like this old habit of creating websites using tables, but others are just equally crazy and people are still doing it, like obtrusive JavaScript.

JavaScript can be used in so many ways (especially after jQuery emerged as a must-have tool in any site) that sometimes we forget one simple and important thing: it will eventually break. Yeah, it’s that simple, one day or another it will just break.

The difference between Jedi Masters and Padawans is how prepared you are for those hard times when things don’t work as you wanted to.

Today we’ll see how obtrusive JS affects SEO, accessibility, the overall user experience and, of course, how to fix that in your sites using AJAX or even the awesome PJAX library.

Why JS can be bad for SEO and Accessibility

Google has certainly improved their tools and algorithms over time, adding the incredible ability of reading simple JS and even Flash (swf) animations. But the truth is, it still have a hard time with complex code.

For example, this code can easily be understood:

<a onclick="document.location.href='http://mysite.com'">

Google will just understand “Hey, I have to add this page to my crawling list, since document.location is a different way to load a new page”. Easy, right? But what if we do this:

<a onclick="openMyPage()">

Much harder, huh? You can imagine how the complexity increase when we’re talking about entire sites being loaded using AJAX, like portfolios, infinite loading pages, contact information. All this data is potentially hidden to Google.

Another important point is Accessibility (tough SEO is part of the accessibility field). Most people think that Accessibility refers only to “disabled” people, but I prefer a broader approach of “people with disability”, which means not only permanent disability like low vision but also temporarily or device-related disability, like using a mobile device or using an old browser.

Long story short, when you consider accessibility you make sure that most people will be able to access the content of your site, and not only the ones in the same conditions that you use or you have tested.

This is an interesting approach because it has zero cost (since it’s mostly a mindset) therefore it gives you infinite ROI (zero cost equals infinite return).

Here are a few things to consider:

  • Mobile devices – Not only “top” mobile devices (iPhone, s4, s3…) but also other common devices that still being used depending on your market (developing countries for instance still have a wide share of text-only mobile browsers)
  • Touch devices – Including tablets, smartphones
  • Different browsers – Beyond the “Firefox, IE, Chrome” checklist,  add also Safari, Opera, Android Browser, Firefox mobile and many, many others
  • Text-only browsing – Crawlers (like googlebot) only get the text so they don’t actually “process” the code in your page, same thing happens with some screen readers and other browsing conditions

All these different scenarios are fine when you have only plain HTML, so well written pages can be easily accessed even with their CSS disabled. But they certainly have a bad time processing JS so, I should say this one more time, that’s why sooner or later it’ll break.

But should we just remove it completely of our lives? Of course not!

Let’s see how to use it wisely now.

AJAX for dummies

The magic behind AJAX is that it loads the content without reloading the page. That is pretty good for the user experience, reducing load times and giving the developer the control over how the content is added in the page. But that can be bad also, since it relies on the JS to read XML content.

A simple login form can be written this way:

<form id="login">
    <input type="text" name="user" id="user" />
    <input type="password" name="password" id="password" />
</form>
<script type="text/javascript">
    $('form#login').submit(function(){
            $.post(
                'doLogin.php',
                {
                    'user': $('#user').val(),
                    'passwd': $('#password').val()
                }
            );
        }
    });
</script>

Can you see what’s wrong here? It’s relying completely on the JS to do the form processing. Just disable the JS and your life will be much harder. I’m not saying that a lot of users have JS disabled but you always should be ready for those extreme cases mentioned before, where it will simply break.

This is a simple change in your form that will fix it:

<form id="login" action="doLogin.php" method="POST">
    <input type="text" name="user" id="user" />
    <input type="password" name="password" id="password" />
    <input type="submit" />
</form>
<script type="text/javascript">
    $('form#login').submit(function(e){
            event.preventDefault();
            $.post(
                'doLogin.php',
                {
                    'user': $('#user').val(),
                    'passwd': $('#password').val()
                }
            );
        }
    });
</script>

This code will work either way, but JS (using the preventDefault) will stop the default action and will do an awesome action the way you wanted it to.

But let’s dig deeper, using PJAX you can take the unobtrusive approach to the next level!

The bright new path: PJAX

The main issue with entire sites loaded using AJAX is that you can only have urls with anchors (like #about), but you can’t have different paths (like /about) because AJAX alone wouldn’t be able to handle those URLs. As you can imagine this is bad for SEO, even if you use the unobtrusive approach you’ll have your entire content in a single page so Google will only refer to one page.

That’s when PJAX arrives to save us all.

PJAX allows you to add a PushState layer above the AJAX calls. What does it mean? It means that you can add paths and actually change browser history. That’s pretty much the same thing as Gmail does, where the content is loaded using JS but you can actually use the back button of your browser, or type the url of your desired label or email (if you remember its ID).

What you need to do is to download it in the PJAX project page, and then you can call a script like this one:

<script type="text/javascript">
    pjax.connect({
        'container': 'login',
        'beforeSend': function(){ alert("This alert will be shown before loading content")},
        'complete': function(){ alert("And this one goes afterwards") }
    });
</script>

The main difference is in the server side, now you have a $_SERVER[‘HTTP_X_PJAX’] variable set as true, so in your CMS you can conditionally test for this variable, if it’s true, only the current content will be loaded, if it’s false you’ll create an entire new page since the user is not using JS (or it’s broken, or something went wrong with the request). Like this:

<?php
        if($_SERVER['HTTP_X_PJAX'] == true){
            echo $only_main_div_content;
        } else {
            echo $the_entire_page;
        }
?>

That’s pretty cool and if you are using a CMS you can give a whole new experience to your users without affecting your SEO since you always have you “plan B” with the regular content.

Summing up

Today we’ve seen how it’s possible to improve user experience AND your site accessibility without hurting your SEO. What do you think about this? Do you know any other library that we could use? Let us know using the comments section!


Advertise here with BSA

Tags: SEO

September 03 2012

11:21

12 Awesome Keyword Tools for Your Website

In-depth keyword research is the backbone of any effective SEO campaign. Fortunately, you don’t have to go it alone. The Internet abounds with keyword tools. Some of them are free, and some of them come with monthly fees. Which ones are worth your while? We’ve compiled a list of 12 of the most effective keyword tools. Learn more about each one below.

Google AdWords Keyword Tool

Without a doubt, this is the most effective free keyword research tool available today. You simply can’t hope to run an effective SEO campaign without making regular use of the Google AdWords keyword tool. By adding a word or phrase, a target website and a region, if desirable, you will be presented with in-depth information. It allows you to find out how fierce the competition is and gives you a list of related keywords and key phrases.

Google AdWords Keyword Tool

Keyword Spy

With this tool, you can check your competitors’ AdWords spending, learn more about their organic and PPC spending and zero in on winning keyword and ad copy combinations. A dizzying array of search options is available as well. You can try it out with the free demo, and you may very well find that it’s worthwhile to pay the monthly fee to keep using it.

Keyword Spy

HitTail

For the reasonable price of just $9.95 a month, you can receive real-time statistics about the keywords that are being used to find your site. This is a great way to come up with promising new keywords for your SEO campaign. To date, the site has analyzed more than 1.2 billion keywords. If you’re unsure about whether it’s worth it, you can use the free version to see what it’s all about. Think of it as a way to get inside prospective customers’ heads.

HitTail

Wordtracker

It’s important to fill your site with Google-friendly content. This robust tool makes that a lot easier to do. Wordtracker includes a first-rate keyword suggestion tool. You can use it to search for specific keywords and to find out how many searches are being performed for them per month. You’ll also be presented with a list of keyword variations. Additional tools like a link-building tool and a competition analysis tool are also available. You can check it out with a seven-day free trial. The full version costs $299 per year.

Wordtracker

KeywordStrategy

One of the nice things about this tool is that several monthly plans are available. You can easily find one that suits your needs and your budget. It includes many useful keyword research functions, and it even allows you to import lists of keywords. This tool was clearly designed by people who do this type of research all the time. You can blacklist unwanted keywords, tag keywords to organize them more effectively and filter them according to many different criteria. In addition to that, you can track your ranking for thousands of keywords quickly.

KeywordStrategy

serpIQ

The primary goal of this tool is to allow you to take over your desired niche. You work towards that goal in a number of ways. A comprehensive analysis of the competition can be conducted quickly. Bright, easy-to-read graphs make it easy to see where you stand and to check how your competition is faring. Different plans are available, and each one includes a different maximum number of analyses per day. This tool also allows you to generate PDF reports that can be used to fine-tune your SEO strategy.

serpIQ

iSpionage

Executing an effective PPC campaign can be tricky. Without doing the right research, yours could be doomed to failure. Keyword analysis plays a vital role, and iSpionage is perfect for anyone who is doing keyword research for their PPC campaigns. You can monitor the competition’s paid search campaigns as well, which makes it easier to find gaps where you can slide in and be more competitive. Some stand-out features include social mention data and SEO keyword monitoring. Monthly plans are available, or you can pay for six months at a time and save a lot of money.

iSpionage

Seed Keywords

This one really stands out because it takes a whole different approach to keyword analysis. Instead of generating reports based on searches and other data, this tool puts you in the driver’s seat. You send a search scenario to a handful of people. They are then asked to provide the types of terms that they would use to solve the problem. With that information, you can get inside people’s heads and get a better handle on the types of keywords they’d use. It’s worth it to give Seed Keywords a try because it’s totally free.

Seed Keywords

Keyword Eye

Are you the type of person who prefers visual representations of data as opposed to row after row of numbers? If so, Keyword Eye may be right for you. This tool uses keyword clouds and other visual representations of important search engine data to help you fine-tune your SEO campaign. It’s also a great way to brainstorm new keywords for your campaign. A variety of reporting options is available. You can even generate reports that can be used by copywriters for inspiration. You can try it for free right on the main website.

Keyword Eye

Wordze

One of the top selling points of this keyword tool is that it incorporates many different tools and reports. You can access these tools from a single, easy-to-use interface. The AdWords tools lets you study up about how your competitors are using keywords in their campaigns. You can generate reports about search trends to come up with new directions for your campaign. There is also a meta search tool that lets you dig even deeper. Although a free version isn’t available, a risk-free trial is. With all of these tools in one place, your campaign is sure to flourish.

Wordze

Keyword Competitor

Sometimes, the best way to get ahead is by riding on the coattails of the competition. This keyword tools make it easy to do that. With a few clicks of the mouse button, you can discover the landing pages and paid keyword ads that your competitors are using. You can even find out what’s working and what isn’t. With that information, you can fine-tune your existing efforts or start a whole new campaign. A 30-day free trial is available, and plans range in price from $29 a month to $499 a month.

Keyword Competitor

SEOmoz Keyword Difficulty Tool

The one drawback to this tool is that you need to have an SEOmoz PRO account. If you do though, this tool works incredibly well. In fact, it became so popular that the site had to restrict its use to members only. One of the best things about the keyword difficulty tool is its simplicity. Just plug in the keyword of your choice and get a wide array of information. You can find out the search volume for a keyword on Google AdWords and get all kinds of additional information. The tool is free to PRO members.

SEOmoz Keyword Difficulty Tool

About the Author:

Rob Walling is the CEO of HitTail (one of the tools in this list!) and a serial entrepreneur. His blog, Software By Rob, is read by about 30,000 web entrepreneurs each month and he co-hosts one of the leading startup podcasts called Startups for the Rest of Us.

Tags: SEO

August 01 2012

10:58

List of Free Retweet Services to Maximize your Traffic


While doing some research on how to gain a lot of traffic from twitter, there are some services that offer a premium in exchange of tweet. Some celebs do this for big companies in exchange for big cash, like on huffingtonpost.

Tags: SEO

May 04 2012

14:00

How Google Creates a New Era for SEO

This is the link to the original article creator of this site, if this message appears to another site than 1stwebdesigner - Graphic and Web Design Blog - 1stwebdesigner is a design blog dedicated to bloggers, freelancers, web-developers and designers. Topics focus on web design and inspirational articles. it has been stolen, please visit original source then!

Google has been making substantial changes to its search engine algorithms. This has led many website owners to reconsider how they implement their SEO campaign. Over the last year, two major new algorithm changes are going to have a major impact on website owners.

Google Panda was enacted last year to help remove low quality content sites from the front page of its indexes. This update had a major impact on a number of websites, particularly content farms and low-level affiliates.

The other update has not been put into place yet and we know even less about it than Google Panda. Google chief engineer Matt Cutts had a discussion with Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land last month to discuss some of Google’s practices. In this discussion, Cutts let it slip that Google was working on a new algorithm change to penalize sites that have engaged in too much SEO.

Both of these topics are expected to have a major impact on search engine rankings in the coming months. Here is the lowdown on what they both mean.

Google Panda Update – Dreaded for SEO

Image Credit: Thos003

Google Panda has really opened up a can of worms for many marketers. Almost every Internet entrepreneur I know has started panicking about how the Panda Update is going to impact them. That is completely unnecessary though. The Panda Update was intended to hit content farms like Ehow and many of the affiliate sites that use spun or stolen content.

After Panda, many of the leading content firms lost substantial amounts of traffic. One of the most extreme cases was Acesshowbiz.com, which lost 93% of its SEO traffic. Meanwhile, a number of leading content providers like Youtube increased their search engine traffic by 10%.

Google is clearly looking much more closely at quality content now. Internet entrepreneurs have got the message that they are supposed to update their site with fresh content as regularly as possible. Although fresh content remains a priority, entrepreneurs who have felt the Panda’s bite are likely to find that they are going to need to put more of their emphasis on creating insightful, fresh original content, than just updating regularly.

The Panda Update suggests that you should do the following:

  1. Make sure your site is written for humans more than search engines.
  2. Get rid of duplicate content as much as possible.
  3. Publish content that has never been featured elsewhere, such as article directories.
  4. Make sure your content is authoritative, rather than just rewrites of other people’s articles or spun content.

These tips could help you considerably as you try to keep your site on the top of the search engines.

Next Algorithm Change

The next algorithm change could mean any number of things for the site. Matt Cutts was pretty vague with his statement, but most SEO experts have at least some idea of what he was getting at.

The new algorithm change is supposedly intended to target over-optimized websites. Adam Audette of Rimm-Kaufman Group stated that SEO should be invisible. The sites that are most likely to get nailed by Google’s new update are those that don’t have any business model.

Audette said that SEO should be an “invisible layer” that is added to a site after creating value to the readers. Too many SEOs think that if they get to the front page of Google then the bucks will start rolling in. This notion is obviously flawed, considering how much readers hate over-optimized content. The new algorithm change is intended to keep these sites from even getting on top of Google.

What are some of changes you may need to make in your SEO model? I would follow these points:

Respect the Panda

Whatever new algorithm update Google has in the books isn’t meant to replace Google Panda. It is targeting over-optimized content, while Panda was directed towards content that provides no value. However, there is definitely an overlap between the two. Appeasing the Panda by creating great content will help you take your efforts away from over-optimizing your site for SEO.

Refrain from Black Hat Strategies

Image credit: Arbyreed

Many Internet marketers shun black hat SEOs like they are the worst kind of sinner. I personally don’t have any ethical standing against most black hat SEOs. However, I will say one thing about most black hat SEO tactics: they rarely lead to long-term results.

Google has been waging war with black hat SEOs from day one. However, Matt Cutts new statement showed that Google is clearly working even harder to boot black hat spammers off the front page. Here are some of the things he specifically mentioned:

  1. “Excessive link exchanges.” The reason Google evaluates backlinks is to assess how authoritative a website is in the eyes of others. Google hates seeing sites that just exchange links with each other, because they give no indication on the real value of the site. Personally, I don’t see anything wrong with sites linking back and forth between each other to network and share resources. I think Google can tell when sites are clearly trying to manipulate the algorithm and wants to ding anyone who does anything unnatural.
  2. “Overuse of keywords.” Keyword stuffing has been a no-no for a long-time. Avoid using keywords unnecessarily throughout your content.
  3. “Beyond what Google would normally expect.” Cutts could mean any number of things with this one. Some SEOs have ventured some guesses that I think were right on. One idea they suggest that he meant unnecessarily linking to the homepage in the body of the article of the footer. I have seen plenty of bloggers link to the homepage in the middle of their post for no reason with a random string of keywords. It gets really annoying to be honest and I am sure it looks weird to Google as well.

Most of the penalties should be clear to marketers by now. Google has been flagging unnatural use of keywords and linking for a long time. We will need to assess what Google is really doing differently this time around. Quite frankly, I think they are implementing some new changes that we may not have considered previously. Matt Cutts made a statement back in 2009 that Google doesn’t have any “over-optimization penalty” for websites. However, he specifically used that term in his most recent statement. Has he changed his mind or just took a new stance on the terminology he used?

It is much too early to see. Websites are going to need to see how their sites are ranked now and what they are going to need to do differently in the future. Carefully monitor your websites rankings before and after Google’s supposed algorithm change. This will give you some idea on whether or not you have over-optimized your website.

If your site has witnessed a drop in rankings over the next couple of months, you can pretty safely bet that your site is considered “over-optimized.” Sadly, that doesn’t give you any indication as to what you have done to overly optimize it.

I would say you should do a page-by-page analysis of your site. Analyze every single link, block of text and meta description to see what may look unnatural. You may need to play around a bit to figure it out. Anything that looks unnatural to you should probably be changed.

Just the same, I wouldn’t make any new changes just because your site drops a little for a while. Google often applies a heavy hand to its algorithm changes in the beginning, which harms innocent sites. It could reverse some of those mistakes later, which would help your site regain its ranking. There is no sense undoing a good thing just because Google has inadvertently penalized your site temporarily.

These two new algorithms may be just the beginning of the changes we are going to see with Google over the next few years. They should remind us that Google is constantly working to improve the quality of the user experience. Therefore, we will have to come to terms with the fact that our techniques to enhance search engine rankings may become increasingly obsolete.

As you build your blog, you may need to turn your efforts away from keywords usage and traditional linkbuilding strategies as you attempt to establish yourself on the front page of the world’s most popular search engine.

April 26 2012

21:00

Joost de Valk, Founder of Yoast, Shares His Success Story

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Joost de Valk is the founder and CEO of Yoast.com. He’s one of the top SEO and WordPress experts in the world, best known for his great WordPress plug-ins.  Joost also runs a WordPress Podcast and speaks at a variety of conferences.

Joost, please introduce yourself to our readers.

I’m Joost de Valk, founder and CEO of Yoast.com. I’m also a 30 year old husband and father of 3 kids (2 boys, 1 girl) from a small town called Wijchen in the Netherlands.

Background

What is your background in web development?

My background is kind of “funny”, I built my first website in ’94, 12 years old at the time, on a computer my parents lent me the money for because I’d broken theirs one time too many. I played around with small websites for quite a while but never really built anything substantial in that time.

Professionally my career started in 2002 as a Java developer, as I like to call it, even though I was mostly coding JSP and JSTL at that time and wouldn’t have been able to write any “real” Java code. My official job title wasn’t developer though; I was an account manager and was mostly working on translating the needs of clients into something the developers could make technical designs for. From this job I went to another sales job, but in that sales job a small miracle happened: they “forced” me, although it didn’t take much forcing at all after my first day, to work on a Mac.

Out of interest for HTML and CSS, I became active in the WebKit community, eventually becoming a committer on the WebKit team, a “title” I still hold, mostly because I built hundreds of automated test cases and maintained their Bugzilla. Through all my work in reducing bugs (a process where you take a webpage that causes an issue and start taking away everything until you have the smallest possible test case), I learned an awful lot about HTML and CSS. One of the things I specialized in was CSS3, which I was and am a huge fan of, causing me to write so called “CSS3 Previews”. I published those on my then domain joostdevalk.nl and hit many a Digg front page with those, back when Digg still had traffic to give.

That section on my site became so popular I decided to spin it off into its own domain, css3.info (which I have since sold), the first domain for which I really seriously started using WordPress. That’s when I had my “rebirth” if you will as a developer: I started developing WordPress plugins to do things I wanted to do on css3.info, beginning with robots meta, which still exists but is also at the core of my WordPress SEO plugin.

What is your background in SEO?

Time would teach me that while I like talking to people and don’t mind selling them stuff at all, I’m not a born salesman. I’m somewhat of an in-between between developer and marketing man, and in my next job I would become an SEO, which I would describe as exactly that. I was taught at Onetomarket in both some of their old blackhat ways (they’d been banned from Google the year before and knew exactly why) and their new methods. While we didn’t use the old methods for clients, I found, and still find this true today, that if you follow what blackhats do you can learn an awful lot about the behavior and choices of search engines.

WordPress plug-ins

Why do you focus so much on WordPress?

Because I love using it and love the community around it. It’s great to be able to build something and help so many people. Of course that wasn’t always true, in the beginning I “just” did it because it was the most user-friendly way to power my websites. Now it’s a part of my business and I dare even say, a part of who I am online.

How did you come up with an idea to create WordPress plug-ins?

I scratch my own itches. WordPress doesn’t do something I want it to do? I’ll make it do it. 95% of my plugins have been built because of that, the other 5% were paid projects for clients.

How do you find needs in the market that you can fill with your WordPress plug-ins?

I don’t think I find needs, those needs find me. It turns out that my itches aren’t that weird, more people need the same functionality, so I build that functionality and release it to the public. In some cases I have probably “created” my own market a bit; in my article on WordPress SEO I have proposed strategies that people adopted, for which they needed my plugins.

What is your process of creating a plug-in?

It starts with a piece of code I built for myself, not too much stuff around it, just my own needs, from there on some plugins evolve into plugins I release. At that point I usually need to add an admin interface etc., which is usually far more work than building the plugin itself. That’s followed by the even more cumbersome creation of documentation, the thing in which all of my plugins “lack” the most.

How do you market your plug-ins?

By now, a blog post about them is usually enough to get people interested. When I first started it took a lot more work but I still go through somewhat of the same process today as I did back then: I email a few friends in the industry, leave a comment on blog posts that are topically related, basically, I make myself known to my audience, usually fellow marketers, who will then spread the word.

Why do you think your plug-ins are so popular? What is your secret?

Quality and doing what’s promised on the “tin”. Instead of calling one of my plugins an all-in-one plugin and doing only half of what’s needed, when I call my WordPress SEO plugin all-in-one it’s because it’s truly all you need for your WordPress sites’ SEO. When I call a plugin “Google Analytics for WordPress”, it does just that: add Google Analytics to WordPress. With, admittedly, a whole lot of options that you can choose to use but you don’t have to use.

SEO

What got you interested in SEO?

I was looking for a new job, clearly unhappy and not functioning very well in my position at the time, when my wife showed me this job for an SEO. I’d played around with search engines a bit, knew my way around all the HTML and CSS standards so I got hired. To be honest, until my wife showed me that job opening, I’d never considered becoming an SEO. I’ll be eternally grateful to her for showing it to me (and for marrying me and bearing my children, but that’s another thing altogether).

How did you learn what you know about SEO?

In several ways: I learned at my then employer, Onetomarket, but mostly, I learned by reading SEO blogs and forums and testing whether what they said about SEO was true. SEO is very much something you have to learn by doing and by deep diving: open up server logs and look for the movements of Googlebot around your site. Try to understand it, try to think as a search engineer. Once you start “getting” that, it’s the most fantastic job in the world.

How did you get from an interest in SEO to being a world-renowned SEO expert?

I built stuff, then I told people… I was in the lucky position that some of the people I told about what I built were very responsive. My first conference was a small conference called SEO Days by Dave Naylor. During that conference Dave took me aside for a while and we had a great chat, after which he connected me with friends of his, people like Chris Sherman and Danny Sullivan who got me speaking gigs on their SES and later SMX conferences and guys like Matt Cutts of Google and Greg Boser of now BlueGlass.

Just a few days before I went to that conference I filled out a long survey on SEO ranking factors Rand Fishkin of SEOmoz had emailed me, which later became one of the biggest pieces of SEO research of that year.

Combined, all these people seemed to like what I did, and still do, so I did more of it and more people responded, from there on it was just a big upwards spiral.

Fusion

Your personal brand is unique because it’s a fusion of web development and SEO with a sprinkle of content marketing. How did you come up with an idea to combine all these things?

I’d love to tell you I planned this from the get go, but that would be nonsense. It just “happened” and when I saw it happen, I took the chance and built it out. Only recently have I become more eloquent about my university background (I studied Theology and International Business, though I finished neither degrees), because I think mostly what I learned in Theology applies to so much of what we do today.

Content marketing, “story telling”, etc. All that is just the old art of evangelization in a new package. Evangelization, coming from Greek, means nothing more than “spreading the good message”, that’s what companies ought to be doing with their products, governments with their policies and heck, developers with their programs and plugins.

How did you go about actually blending it all together? What were the biggest lessons learned there?

I didn’t really blend it myself. I just wrote about what I did and at some point it became clear to me I was “WordPress SEO guy” to a lot of people and they were looking to me for advice and plugins in that area. The funny thing is that in my work as a consultant, I’m far more a “Large Site SEO” guy and a “News SEO” than a “WordPress SEO” guy, as most of my consultancy clients are companies with enormous websites and the issues that arise from that, but my “public” image is now completely affixed to WordPress in the first place and SEO as a close second.

Many people want to become world-class experts, but only few do. How did you get to where you are now? How did you grow your brand and your business?

To become a “world-class” expert you have to be humble in admitting what you don’t know, as well as nimble in making sure you get to know that what you don’t know but need to know as soon as possible. As soon as you’ve acquired knowledge worth sharing you then need to start giving away that knowledge through a blog, articles in magazines and speeches on conferences.

It’s not something that happens overnight. I’ve been doing this for 8 years now, growing a following in the process. So it takes hard work, dedication and you need to forego monetary reimbursement for quite a while. I would never have been where I am now if I’d decided to sell my plugins early on, or if I’d kept my WordPress SEO knowledge to myself.

Final words

Last, but not least, what would be your advice to someone who would like to combine his or her strengths and build a strong personal brand and a successful business on them? What’s the most important thing there?

The single most important thing is to do what you love. I know no-one in our industry who has become a thought leader, a world-class expert or a “guru” by doing something other than what they love. The reason for that is simple: love for what you do will make your work not feel like work; allowing you to put the necessary (often ridiculous) amount of hours in to gain the knowledge and the profile you need.

Thank you, Joost! 

April 23 2012

21:00

How to Fix Over Optimization Penalty in Order to Please Google

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Let me start with a quick introduction to the recent debate on Over Optimization Penalty for those who live under some sort of information proof bunker and haven’t heard a bit about it. You will probably hear (and notice) the effects of this new discussion once your site loses all its organic traffic. SEO experts will tell you that it is the new Over Optimization Penalty from Google which has pushed your website down on SERPs. Then you will start Googling and probably stumble upon multiple articles that will teach you stuff which by then will hold no meaning just because you were sleeping when you shouldn’t be!

What is Over Optimization Penalty?

Well, the over optimization penalty is another patch from Google (Bing included for that matter) to save their search results from the smartness of SEO masterminds. Last year it was Google Panda update, before that it was the paid links crackdown and this year it will be the over optimization penalty. This has now become a habit of Google. Whenever there are too many questions being thrown at Google they come up with some patch or other to silent their critics.

Google, by no means, seems interested in totally changing their algorithm architecture. Instead, they have been patching their algorithm to fight those who trick their systems. Soon Google’s search algorithm will be a patch of patches with confusions all around.

Over Optimization is one such patch which Google will crack a whip on websites that concentrate more on SEO instead of content quality. Matt Cutts, Google’s anti-spam chief, hinted the same at the recently held SXSW. Under this new penalty, once effective, Google will penalize websites for abusing SEO tricks. The idea is simple – let content be the king and Google the Demigoddess.

And the idea is basically to try and level the playing ground a little bit. So all those people who have sort of been doing, for lack of a better word, “over optimization” or “overly” doing their SEO, compared to the people who are just making great content and trying to make a fantastic site, we want to sort of make that playing field a little bit more level.

And so that’s the sort of thing where we try to make the web site, uh Google Bot smarter, we try to make our relevance more adaptive so that people don’t do SEO, we handle that, and then we also start to look at the people who sort of abuse it, whether they throw too many keywords on the page, or whether they exchange way too many links, or whatever they are doing to sort of go beyond what a normal person would expect in a particular area. So that is something where we continue to pay attention and we continue to work on it, and it is an active area where we’ve got several engineers on my team working on that right now.

~ Matt Cutts

But, Why is it Important for Google to Implement Over Optimization Penalty?

Well, lately everyone has been writing for search engines and publishing whatever their audience wants to read. That touch of innovative thoughts on articles being generated doesn’t seem to exist.

I am sure that most of you, the content developers, won’t agree with me because I am questioning how you make your living. But, for a moment, forget about it being your job and think.

  • Don’t we write what people want to read?
  • Don’t we write for the audience?
  • Don’t we write for traffic?
  • Don’t we write for better search engine rankings?

See, I am not saying that we have stopped writing innovative stuff. All that I am saying is that the innovative quotient in today’s content has gone down. We have become more and more search engine friendly.

Few years back we used to pick up our morning newspapers and skim through the headlines to find whatever was useful for us while sipping our cup of coffee. Gone are those days of newspapers. In this age of Internet we rely on Google News type websites that curate the latest news information. So, what happens is that writers notice a topic which is trending on such leading websites. The result is obvious. All of them start writing about that topic. In no time that particular topic starts trending with other important stuff buried somewhere.

In short, the media ends up shaping the news and forces the readers to read what is trending. Although that is useful for readers, in this process some of the best news is lost somewhere. This must be controlled.

We need to promote the investigative sort of content creation where writers generate new ideas and Google helps those writers stay on top. It is important for writers to write something new and then readers search about that on Google for extra information. It is important for innovation to take over spamming. It is important for honesty to take over technology. It is important for us to stay crystal clear with our readers.

So, is SEO Dead?!?!

Well, not really. Chill fellow SEOers!

Let us all read two more pointers about Search Engine Optimization. This will help us understand what SEO is and how over the years we have been missing its real definition:

  • SEO is about analyzing data related to your site’s traffic in order to understand what exactly your viewers are looking for. This data will give you a picture about what search engines love in your website and what they index the most. An intense analysis of this data will help you understand how to optimize the website’s content for the reader’s benefit. Note that nowhere did I ask you to optimize the content SEO wise. I did not ask you to push in extra keywords. I asked you to generate content that readers will love.
  • Secondly, SEO is about technically improving your website so that search engines are easily able to crawl it. You, as a SEO specialist, need to understand how search engines crawl websites so that you can come up with an infrastructure which is search engine friendly. Again, I don’t mean extra keywords. I am talking about good coding standards and information hierarchy.

See, as of now Google is trying hard to come up with that perfect search engine algorithm which will index pages that are actually appreciated by readers. For this all that we can do from our side is generate comprehensive content. The rest will be taken care of by Google (and Bing’s small share).

“We’re always trying to best approximate if a user lands on a page, are they going to be really, really happy instead of really, really annoyed? And if it’s the sort of thing where they land on a page and they are going to be annoyed, then that is the sort of thing that we’ll take action on.”

Okay, I agree! Now, HOW do I tackle Over Optimization and Avoid the Penalty?

I know, I have written over 1100 words of content which might make no sense if you just skim through it but it will if you read it carefully. For those who are now convinced that the implementation of Over Optimization Penalty by Google makes a lot of sense from the search engine giant’s perspective then for them here is my way out. Let us read it point by point:

  • STOP keyword stuffing - See, there is no such theory as keyword density. Really. Gone are the days when a keyword density of 3-4% will take your article somewhere. Please don’t stuff keywords everywhere. I mean that you should not do it on purpose. See, it is very obvious that you are tricking the system when you stuff keywords in anchor texts, URL and title tags. Write content that makes sense – for search engines and for readers. The rest will be taken care of.
  • STOP linking to websites in your network - Lately Google has been angry with webmasters who interlink to all the websites in their network. See, if you have a collection of 50 websites and you start linking to all of them from all of them then you are obviously over doing the interlinking thing. Aren’t you? Ask yourself guys! And, once you realize that you are at fault then stop doing the same.
  • STOP using backlinks from useless places - Well, this what we call link spam. You, as a SEO, can do your best to garner links from comments, directories and various networks. The moment you do this manually to trick the system, you will be caught and killed. They really don’t make any sense so don’t spend time in such stuff.
  • START creating content - Go back to the archives of 1stWebDesigner itself. You will notice that Dainis, the owner and only author back then, was writing content regularly. He didn’t write stuff that will make it into history books but he made sense. He provided readers what they wanted to read. The end result was pure content which was worth every word. Readers loved it and 1WD grew like hell. And, it is still growing. So, just make comprehensive content and fall in love with it.
  • START interlinking to old posts - See, once you start developing regular content then indirectly you are telling Google that guys I got fresh content. I know you love fresh content and see I have it. Why don’t you crawl my website more often? Once Google starts to crawl your website then you can push in few more advice for the crawler. And that you will do with the help of internal links that will link to older blog posts of your article. By using the idea of internal linking you are actually telling Google that my other content is also useful. You can crawl that too. Makes sense? But, please don’t over do it.
  • START doing SEO - So, did I confuse you? Well you got confused because you haven’t read the rest of my article. You really haven’t. Scroll up and read the “Is SEO Dead” section. Try to figure out what actually SEO is and implement that format of SEO in your website. Get it, Mr. SEO?

Closure Tip

Google might not be God but whatever they have created is their own system. You can trick them today but in the long run they will pin you down. After all it is their own arena. They created it. They aren’t losing their own game, right? So put some sense in yourself and have fun.

April 19 2012

13:00

Revised Google SEO Guide 2012 Edition: Big Changes in Algorithm

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Everybody is buzzing all around now, how latest changes Google did affected their search traffic greatly! Chances are if you monitor your own properties on Google Analytics, you will see significant drop in your traffic in March!

1WD was seriously affected as well from March 20! Besides Google Panda release, there were 2 rounds of changes Google did, hurting almost every site search traffic:

• Panda 3.3 - Search quality highlights: 40 changes for February
• Panda 3.4 on March 23 - Search quality highlights: 50 changes for March

So what exactly do these changes mean? Do you need to be worried and what can you do to be prepared and be more likable in Google’s eyes?

In this Google SEO guide I will show you the behind the scenes on how 1WD was affected, explain how to monitor your traffic better and how to be more prepared in the future. A lot of websites were hit hard, even high authority websites. We always have been focusing on high quality content here, never used spammy link building techniques and we believe our social presence is very strong as well.

So what the hell is happening here?

Google analytics data

Which sites were affected, which were not?

After asking around, I found out that mostly new websites ~1 year weren’t affected, but a lot of sites which had some very high-ranking keywords, felt a big decrease there.

It seems if you have average links, new website and haven’t done spammy SEO promotion, you are doing great. However if you have something to lose as old, stable top keyword rankings, you got hit.

I compared several top web design websites on Alexa and here are results for the last month March 15 to April 15:

  • 1WD – 6% drop (it was more like 15% drop in reality for me, which means everybody was hit much harder as Alexa shows)
  • SmashingMagazine – 6.5% drop
  • Sixrevisions – 2% drop
  • WebDesignerDepot – 5% drop
  • Css-Tricks – 4% raise
  • Designm.ag – 12% drop
  • TutPlus sites – 3.7% drop
  • SpeckyBoy – 4% drop
  • SpyreStudios – 7% drop
  • Hongkiat – 9% drop
  • UxBooth – 5% drop
  • WebDesignerWall – 3% drop

You can check Copyblogger with 15% drop  and Quicksprout 16% drop in other niches! Crazy right? And those are just Alexa’s inaccurate stats, if I compare with 1WD Analytics, then I believe all of these sites in reality got 10-20% drop in traffic!

All of these blogs are very popular and always focus on high quality articles. This really doesn’t make sense and it shows how we need to rethink what we are doing online, what we are writing and how we need to promote our websites.

The most visible and buzzed topics about Google changes were:

  • Big link networks taken down
  • Duplicate page content
  • Over Optimization
  • Too many ads above the fold
  • Social signal importance

What mistakes should you avoid doing? And how to fix them?

Its time to list down the most popular mistakes we all probably have done before, but should avoid now! Interesting that a lot of these mistakes aren’t new, but before all of those techniques were really working. Most mistakes are easily found because they do not look real and Google has raised his eyebrows to search everything unnatural.

1. Obsessing about exact-match anchor text

Everybody who has done link building anywhere has been working to target perfect term for their website. Wherever you could, you try to include your term, for example: web design blog.

You can include this term while:

  • Commenting on other blogs
  • Writing guest posts
  • Getting paid links, advertising
  • Writing your forum comment, Yahoo Answers, Quora, including term in signature
  • Using link building tools, blog networks

Previously this technique was really working even if there were people warning about over working, but there weren’t so many drawbacks. Until now.

Such obsessing do not look natural for Google and it’s easy to spot it!

How to fix this mistake?

Do your keyword research again and choose 5-10 terms you would like to rank for and mix them in wherever you can. Change your signatures to be different. Instead of working for one term, when guest posting for example, include related article you have on your blog, not your home address anchor text.

While working on your brand awareness be as helpful as possible, don’t just link back to your site, link to others, link to very specific posts if you have, which are related. The same is about comments – if your comment is valuable and you have high quality article written about the same issue, include it, but don’t obsess about always mentioning your brand!

Good practice is also to check how others relate to your brand! Usually if they will want to share your website to others, they won’t tell – check out this web design blog. Instead they will tell to check out 1stWebDesigner (it helps to have related keywords in your domain, of course as we have – web designer).

2. Ads Above The Fold

Google has announced that pages with too many ads above the fold are now penalized by Google’s page layout algorithm. Strangely Google itself is not following their praised best practices.

Ads above fold google

These news completely make sense in order to ensure the best reading experience, however it’s hard for blogs who want to earn some income to remove those top ads, without loosing money.

We are doing bad work on 1WD ourselves, but we are working on removing those ads slowly and once our own Labzip product will be ready, we plan on having just one banner ad on sidebar for better experience.

How to fix this problem?

Easy answer – just remove those ads! Every blog owner knows it’s not so easy to do that, as it removes any income! What you can do instead is to move some of those ads below the first page, put them on the middle or bottom of sidebar or at the end of the blog post.

Great solution is responsive websites, where on smaller screens you remove those ads completely or leave just few of them. On Codrops website, you will see ads following to the bottom of page in that way cleaning up above the fold section (scale that site resolution down, to see effect in real life).

Very good example is SmashingMagazine website:

This is the screenshot from website on 1000px width:

Smashingmag ads

This is the screenshot with 1024×768 resolution:

Smashingmag 1024 resolution ads

As you can see on the first image, you can see just 2 ads, while in second one there are 8 ads above the fold. Even then though SmashingMag also saw decrease in search traffic. My guess would be that too many people on 1024×768 still see those ads, but the trending is right. A lot more people are using tablet devices and mobile phones to browse internet and they will see little ads there.

The same is true about big resolutions, I have Macbook Pro with 1680×1050 resolution, and while browsing SmashingMag on full screen those sidebar ads do not seem to be hurting readability.

Suggestion – create a responsive website and remove as many ads as possible on smaller screen sizes. In dream world, people with 1024×768 and less shouldn’t need to see sidebar ads.

Summary: going responsive and removing some of the top ads and a lot of links from top could definitely help improve readers experience and also will make Google like you more. Removing clutter from top navigation is top recommended while planning your design.

3. Duplicate page content

This is a very popular technique used by spammers, who just copy other site content and publish it as unique. Don’t do that. Ok, I bet if you are reading this blog you aren’t doing it anyway, but also check your site for bad code, which makes your site content to be duplicated. For example I checked my SeoMoz pro and saw I have a lot of page duplicates, where on WordPress writers use images, but don’t remove default link from them. For my layout it created one more page with that image, which was taken as duplicated content for Google.

Be sure you don’t make such silly mistakes, which can hurt your rankings and make experience for your visitors worse.

If you want to read more about duplicated content and check if you aren’t making any mistakes visit those links:

  • Virante - This tool diagnoses common causes and effects of duplicate content penalties;
  • Check your Google Webmaster tools to improve your site;
  • 7 Ways to Tame Duplicate Content – read this old, but still relevant post from SEOMoz.

1wd duplicated content

Here you can check more common SEO mistakes from official Google Webmaster Central blog, check this video ( created on March 19,2012):

What should you do now to improve your search rankings?

Okay, you heard about a lot of mistakes, but what exactly do you need to do now to be friends with Google, to improve your traffic and brand?

A lot of fundamentals have never changed, Google’s changes just encourage you to work on best content, real relationships, best user reading experience and be quick to change and improve.

1. Don’t chase the algorithm, create content for users

You might be hearing top SEO advice all the time, people talking how to help you promote your content, get easy way to huge traffic and high-ranking. The truth is even if some of these spammy techniques work, they won’t work in short future. Blackhat SEO guys, make it their job to search for the holes and change all the time, but it’s a hell of the work and they must be very careful. Just very few guys are so smart, so experience that they can really work on gaming the system.

I would suggest to work on long-term white hat techniques, which will do a lot of good for you in long run. With online business it’s important to feel safe about it and know that you will earn approx the same or more money each month.

2. Track everything

Use Google Analytics, KissInsights, Kissmetrics, Seomoz Pro, Webmaster Tools to be able to keep up with trends, get information about your visitors and make sure your site follow the best techniques, check if links are working.

3. Be aggressive and quick on changes

  • If you are interested on being friends with Google, you need to be friends with your visitors. If all the sites are going mobile and on tablets, you need to create your website to be accessible on those new devices.
  • If everybody is implementing HTML5, CSS3 then use it  so your code becomes cleaner and shorter.
  • If browsers are stopping to support Flash, then you better start focusing on new techniques.
  • Responsive designs help for site to be supported on all those different resolutions, use it!

4. Social network importance

Google is pushing its social network Google+, Facebook is working together with Bing search engine, Twitter search results appear real-time. The future is in social networks, Google are getting better and better on indexing such information very quickly, they listen to social signals.

Actually those are great news because before Twitter, Facebook was completely different traffic sources, now they complement each other by showing up in search results as priority. If you want to work on search engine optimization, work on social networks! We have quite a lot of them, I didn’t mention Pinterest and LinkedIn even yet!

5. Update Your Old Content

This can take a lot of time if you have a lot of articles, pages, like we have on 1WD, but encouraged to do. If you have old posts which rank very good, its worth updating them, checking for broken links, up to date information. You will get huge benefits from that like more social signals, new comments and your posts will be kept ranking very well.

If you have written very poor content in past, then consider editing it, don’t delete those posts, but invest in quality.

6. Implement SEO basics and good on-site strategies

The most important thing is to use very simple and clean code, validate HTML and CSS to prevent any crawl errors. If you will keep your code clean, pages will load faster – load speed also affects search rankings!

While working on your website design, remember to keep your top navigation simple and short ( something we are not doing!) We were thinking that detailed navigation will help users to browse around, but in fact it’s only creating clutter, as people just want to read the latest, then most popular posts and if they want to find something they use search anyway.

7. Work on good link building techniques

These include writing guest posts, working on real relationships with influencers, with your peers where you can help each other by linking on relevant posts, writing comments and leveraging from those relationships.

Actually the same way you need to work on social relationships with goal to get more social signals, the same way you work on link building indirectly just working together with people helping each other. For example, if you would own 1WD, you would connect with similar web design blogs, interact with blog owners, link to their sites – they will return the favor one way or another just because they will consider you friend.

Tools to use for better SEO on your own site:

WordPress SEO by Yoast (free)

In past I have always been using All In One SEO, but now transferring to Yoast plugin, because it is very complete, everything in one place, easily explained and once you setup it, you can forget about it, just add what’s required to new posts and enjoy the best SEO practices.

If you invest time in researching all of this plugin features, it will be enough for you on-site SEO efforts!

Some of the popular features include:

  • Post titles and meta descriptions
  • Robots Meta configuration
  • Google webmaster tool verification, Bing webmaster tools
  • XML sitemap
  • RSS enhancements
  • Edit your robots.txt

WordPress SEO Plugin  Search Engine Optimization Plugin  Yoast

SEO Smart Links (79$ for 3 months)

SEO Smart Links – Premium Edition enhances your search engine rankings by automatically inter-linking your posts. In this way you are working on link building magically while writing new posts, which is very useful as each links also counts as vote for search engines. Start with your own site!

This is premium plugin created by Vladimir Prelovac, there are some free plugins around like this, but I cannot vouch for them.

Some of the features:

  • Enhanced content parsing algorithm
  • Advanced automatic interlinking options
  • Advanced custom keywords options
  • Advanced control over number of created links
  • Support for link redirection/link cloaking

SEO Friendly Images (free)

This plugin will come really handy for your image optimization, also created by Vladimir Prelovac.

SEO Friendly Images is a WordPress SEO plugin which automatically updates all images with proper ALT and TITLE attributes for SEO purposes. If your images do not have ALT and TITLE already set, SEO Friendly Images will add them according the options you set. Additionally this makes the post W3C/xHTML valid as well.

Seo friendly images

CommentLuv Premium (free to 67$)

Comment section is where you should spend a lot of time as blog owner, if you work on regular content then you must encourage comments. Your visitors are actually helping you to add more good content to the post by leaving valuable comments. But in order for them to do that, you need to encourage them by rewarding your visitors. How about the link back to their recent post?

Some of the best features:

  • 10 post incentives – if visitor share post on G+, Twitter or like, he can choose which post to include there
  • Control over do follow, nofollow attributes
  • Built in tracking system
  • Beautiful anti spam plugin GASP built-in, to eliminate spam. Actually a lot of options to take care of spammers wanting to just get their links.


If you want to read more benefits of using this plugin, check this awesome plugin review made by Ana, her blog posts usually get from 20 to 100 comments. Only thing missing in this plugin is beautiful design, but planning to take care of that by manually redesigning it.

Google WebMaster Tools

Must use tool where Google will directly inform and help you know what sections of your site needs to be improved, what problems it may get or is getting.

Google webmasters tool

SEOMoz Pro (99$ per month)

SEOMoz is a proven tool created by SEOMoz experts, their expertise and great blog leaves no doubt they know what they are talking about. I am using their software to get detailed analysis what kind of most common errors and warnings I have on my site, manage keywords, keep eye on search traffic where data is driven from your Google Analytics account ( ah, you should have Google Analytics installed of course).

It is quite expensive, but I really feel it is helping me to simplify SEO and social monitoring on my own website. If you take SEO seriously and want to make your life easier, consider getting this tool.

Remember they have a big team and they are regularly improving, crawling your site each week, notifying you about issues that might impact your performance.

Seomoz pro seo optimization

Xenu Link Sleuth & Screaming Frog SEO Spider (free)

This tool is helpful for checking web sites for broken links, analyze all of the SEO basics, store information locally and then if any problem arise you can check on history to help you diagnose which changes may have affected that problem.

Link verification is done on “normal” links, images, frames, plug-ins, backgrounds, local image maps, style sheets, scripts and java applets. You can download this software for Windows, Mac and Ubuntu.

Additional features:

  • Simple, no-frills user-interface
  • Can re-check broken links (useful for temporary network errors)
  • Simple report format, can also be e-mailed
  • Executable file smaller than 1MB
  • Site map

Xenu link sleuth checker

Sites to read to check on further Google SEO changes and discoveries:

Here are the blogs, video channels and articles to read to check on what’s happening behind the scenes on Google and to find further proven explanations and solutions for problems you may have.

Google Webmaster Central

This is the official YouTube channel for Google Webmaster Central, your one-stop shop for webmaster resources that will help you with your crawling and indexing questions, introduce you to offerings that can enhance and increase traffic to your site, and connect you with your visitors.

Google webmaster central youtube

Seomoz Blog

Seomoz product founders happen to own one of the best SEO blogs out there. It is a great community where you can ask questions in Q&A forum, official blog and then user submitted post blog, where you can get even more great advice and practices.

Favorite posts on Google topics:

Seomoz blog

SearchEngineLand

One more top SEO blog and while doing research on current SEO changes, I found a lot of relevant and up to date articles about this. That’s one big reason to remember checking out this site on regular basis.

Some valuable posts you should read there:

Search engine land

MySEO Community

This is an amazing website curating information about SEO, they work seriously on quality, so if you need one stop place about SEO, don’t go further.

Here is their own description about their site - MySEOCommunity isn’t a run of the mill online community. Because of the increasing popularity of search engine marketing and social media, there is a lot of content written about these subjects on a daily basis. Unfortunately, trying to manually keep up with the best content that’s being written is next to impossible to do.

MySEOCommunity blogs read

Check which links can harm your site rankings:

If you did over optimize before on your site, you should be very worried, so here are some useful articles to read about how to recover from those bad links. Check also which links can be harming your site and remove them.

Is your site affected by Google algorithm changes and how you are solving them? Would love to hear your stories and solutions.

April 07 2012

11:00

Begginer’s Guide to Launching a Successful Blog

We are all aware of just how fast the Internet grows. The American search engine giant, Google, reports that more than 1 trillion websites were indexed in 2008. Twenty years ago Google only indexed 15,000 new URLs per year. In a stunning report from Mashable last summer we found out that 150,000 new URLs are created daily. While it is nearly impossible to figure out the exact number of web pages out there, it is clear that mammoth is the right word to use to describe the internet in 2012.

Out of the 150,000 URLs created daily, there is a high chance many of them are blogs. The blogging industry has evolved a lot in the past 10 years. In 2000 blogs were rare and didn’t exist on the same scale they do now. Very few actually believed that blogging could become it’s own industry with rules, guidelines, competition and involving a fairly decent amount of money.

One of the largest issues of the industry is the reduced number of people who can access those available funds. Big companies always prefer to advertise on big, serious and successful blogs than on smaller, personal ones. Launching a blog doesn’t automatically make you successful and you need to take some steps and put in a serious amount of work to even reach the state where you can fight for good money. By reaching those heights, however, not only will your financial success be guaranteed, but also a tremendous reputation in the industry is an added advantage.

What’s the topic?

One of the most difficult tasks is to choose a niche. And I think that if you can’t find a topic within few minutes, just off the top of your head, you are headed for problems. In my opinion blogging should not be done for money, but for something you are passionate about. Having a personal blog where you tell people what kind of cereals you ate in the morning might be fun for your mom and neighbors, but it will not attract interest from the companies. Very few bloggers without a specific topic are worldwide or even nationally successful. A targeted topic such as design, IT or sports would probably work best.

Image by Charles Jeffrey Danoff.

More importantly than choosing a topic is being passionate about it. You can’t write about something you don’t personally enjoy. The alternative would be to hire people to write, but let’s face it, how probable is it for your investment to pay off? Probably very low. I would only start to hire people to write on my blog after it is already quite successful and has a chance to survive in the crowded industry. Spending lots of money for a blog in the beginning is not something I would recommend.

The domain name should also be relevant to the topic you discuss and if you need some tips about how to choose the best possible domain name (which can and will be a hassle, believe me), you can read Tips for Registering Domain Names. Don’t make it too long and keep it easy to remember.

Hosting

While this is a small step and might seem unimportant, using a reliable hosting company is something you should look for if you want to have a successful blog. Keep in mind that downtime will not make you more popular. There are not too many things more annoying than trying to access a web page that is down. This will make your readers less interested if you show a lack of professionalism in this regard.

Know your competitors

Carefully studying the others in the industry, especially the direct competitors, is something I would start doing right away. You need to get a feel of how the successful blogs manage out there if you want to own one of them. Knowing who it is you are up against can’t do any harm now, can it?

It would be a good idea to follow their activity for a period of time and pay attention to how they do everything, from the length and structure of their posts, publishing times and the way they interact with their followers. Even you interacting with them – and this way creating a network – might help you later on. Although pretty much everyone fights for the limited amount of money available in online advertising, bloggers help each other and are usually part of the same network (look at the Smashing Magazine Network – blogs that would normally compete with each other are driven by same umbrella community.).

Interacting with the followers can bring you much more than just good debates. I often get article ideas from your comments here on 1WD, which I appreciate a lot. But this way I consider I give you something back for your involvement with the community. So make sure you keep your users engaged and write articles that create debates and encourage further discussions.

The design

Blogs are mainly created to share information – but so are newspapers, television websites and online magazines. And they all need to look good. Without forgetting your main goal (writing) you need to think of a good design. Now you might not be a web designer and might not be able to develop a theme for yourself; no problem. There are lots of marketplaces on the internet where you can purchase a premium theme which is bug-free and supports the latest version of WordPress (I assume there is no question about what CMS to use – if there is, forget about it now and go for WordPress). If nothing suits you (although I think this is quite impossible), you can hire a designer, but this will probably eat lots of your financial resources.

Suggested Reading - Choosing a WordPress Theme: Free or Premium?

Image by Moriel.

The need for a good design is big and you can see it all over the place. Blogs and online magazines opt for redesigns quite often – and even spend thousands of dollars on new visual concepts, identities and layouts. So if the big players use fine tuned designs to their advantage, it must be something worth trying, right?

Content is King, SEO is the Court Jester

Ok, quite far from the truth, but it works well for a subtitle. You can read a great piece of advice on this from Michael Giaimo.

The bottom line of his article is that while SEO is important, it still is less important than the content. Before starting to think about high page rank and clicks on Google make sure the content will keep the visitors returning. There is no need in investing money in advanced SEO strategies if the users will leave your page immediately after reading the first article title.

SEO is not to be neglected and I am aware of this – and so should you. The only thing I am saying is that there is something else you should think of before going for a SEO specialist. It is maybe debatable and I would like to hear your opinion on this in the end.

Have a strategy

There would be no football without a goal. There is no successful business without a strategy. A blog is a business like any other and it should be treated as one. Think of how many posts you want to publish a day/week, the length of the articles, the images you will use, the style and so on. In the end this is what will describe and categorize your blog.

Having some spare articles to publish if needed is something that I did many times in my blogging days. When posting often it does happen that you are not available for a day or two and there you go, your followers get nothing from you. Write some articles in advance and always schedule them. Here at 1WD we have articles scheduled for almost a week in advance, which gives us a huge advantage over competitors who don’t adopt this style.

It is also a great idea to keep a posting schedule, as readers will create a habit around your blog. Another reason for having posts scheduled in advance – users expecting content will always get it, regardless of your availability at the moment.

Run a social media launch campaign

Start creating a Facebook and Twitter page before launching the blog – this might help you raise some awareness over the launch and make people excited. You also need to make sure you maintain the social media accounts, nothing looks worse than a company with an inactive Facebook page. I know starting form zero followers is tough; and probably the first 100 are the toughest to get. But keep in mind all pages start from zero and yet they can reach millions. Time is your best friend in blogging. You need to wait in order to be successful, as this can only be achieved through hard work over a longer period.

Be ready!

Blogging is a tough business. Make sure you know what lies ahead of you. Countless hours of work, lack of proper sleep during many nights, motivation issues and frustration are coming and going in the industry; but it is quite impossible to reach success without passing through these stages.

Image by guil.

Conclusion

Don’t create a blog only for money. Money should be the final prize and achievement, your passion for the topic should be the main reason you invest time and financial resources on it. Readers can feel when a blogger is not passionate about the subjects he is covering and they will not return. You don’t want to be one of the unlucky bloggers. Think twice before launching a blog and think even more about its topic, your motivation and willingness to commit to your cause.

Until next time… do you have a personal blog? How well do you think you maintain it and why? Do you set some rules for yourself and some guidelines for the blog? Do you pay people to write there, turning a blog into a small business of itself?

April 01 2012

00:00

How to Use Squidoo to Increase Your Website’s Traffic

Are you looking for new ways to increase traffic to your website? Have you ever considered creating a Squidoo Lens to help drive more traffic to your site? Squidoo is a really cool tool that’s been around for years, but it’s never really taken off, so a lot of folks have never heard of it.

That said, because it has built-in SEO tools, it’s an amazing tool for search engine optimization and for driving traffic to your website. In other words, it’s a great “top end of the funnel” tool for your website. In this article, we will explain what Squidoo is, the benefits of using it, how to build a Squidoo lens, the different types of Squidoo lenses out there, and finally how you can use it to increase your site’s traffic. If you’re ready, let’s dig in!

What is Squidoo?

What is Squidoo?

What is Squidoo?

Squidoo is a free online tool, and brainchild of the incredibly talented Seth Godin, which allows ANYONE to create a web page or “Lens” on any topic in which they would consider themselves an expert. According to Seth Godin, perhaps the greatest marketer of our time, everyone is an expert in something. Use Squidoo’s templated platform to create a Lens on any topic you’d like. Create as many Lenses as want. Once you build your Lens you can publish it to the web. You get to pick the URL. For example: Squidoo.com/Your-Lens-Name.

Benefits of Using Squidoo

Squidoo is a great tool that for some reason has just never gone mainstream. There are millions of Squidoo Lenses out there, many of which can be found at the top of Google searches for their given topic. Here are some benefits of building a Squidoo Lens:

  • It’s FREE
  • You can make money through affiliate links and banner ads on Squidoo. You can choose to have your revenue transferred to your bank account or you can donate it to a charity.
  • You don’t need to know how to build a website, but you can still build yourself a Squidoo Lens. That said, website owners can build a Squidoo Lens, or a few Squidoo Lenses, to use as a funnel for driving quality traffic to your website.
  • SEO tools are built-in and easy to use, which allows you to rank higher on search engines for your topic
  • Building a Lens doesn’t take a lot of time. You can have a quality Squidoo Lens up in a few hours!

These are just a few of the many benefits of taking the time to build a Squidoo Lens.

How to Build a Squidoo Lens

squidoo lens

Building a Squidoo Lens

Building a Squidoo Lens is easy. Follow the steps below and you can have your very own Squidoo Lens published to the world in just a few hours.

  • Create an account on Squidoo
  • Create a Lens
  • What’s your lens going to be about? Set a topic for your Lens. *HINT: Make sure it has something to do with your website topic so that you can use it to drive relevant traffic to your website.
  • Create a Title for your Lens and set a URL. Be sure to include your keywords in both.
Squidoo benefits

Set a Title for your Squidoo Lens

  • Tag your page so people can find it! Set keywords for your Squidoo Lens.
  • Determine if you want to earn money from your Squidoo Lens
  • Start building your Squidoo Lens. Add modules (building blocks) to your Lens. There are modules for everything you can think of. A few examples are:
Squidoo lens

Select Modules You Want to Add to Your Lens

  1. Text box – Add copy, images, and hyperlinks to create the main text areas of your Lens. This module is great for providing copy/information about your topic to your Lens readers.
  2. Link List – Add a list of links to other supporting website that your readers might be interested in.
  3. Guest Book – Allow your Lens readers to leave comments on your lens.
  4. RSS Feed – Add your blog feed to your lens
  5. Poll – Survey your readers
  6. Video – Add videos to your lens! This module supports Revver, Vimeo, Howcast and YouTube.
  • Add Tags to your Lens. Tags are like keywords. Add all of the relevant words and phrases that you think people will be using to search your topic.
  • Save your Lens as a Draft and Preview it. Make any changes so that it looks just right. Be sure you have links throughout your lens to your website.
Create a squidoo lens

Finalize Your Squidoo Lens

  • Publish your Squidoo Lens.

It’s really that easy. If you found this article then you’re web savvy enough to create a great Squidoo Lens and use it to drive quality traffic to your website.

Different Types of Squidoo Lenses

There are almost too many types of Squidoo Lenses to name. Here are some of the top ways to use Squidoo or different types of Squidoo Lenses:

  • Informative/Educational Lens – This is a lens that someone with a passion for a given topic creates as a way of helping others learn more about that topic.
  • Money Maker – These types of lenses come in many shapes and forms, but at the end of the day, it’s a Lens that’s trying to sell you something or get you to click on their affiliate links/banner ads and make a purchase so that the Lens owner can make a commission.
  • Charity Lenses – Charity Lenses are exactly what they sound like. A charity creates a Lens to build awareness for their cause, promote an event, etc.
  • Event Lenses – Do you host a recurring event? Why not create a lens to you can post pictures to, generate buzz for the event with, promote it each year by updating the lens, etc.? Many people take advantage of Squidoo to promote events.
  • Lead Generation – Squidoo Lenses are GREAT for lead generation. The in-built SEO allows Lenses to rank high on search engines. This usually helps you take traffic away from some of the top sites on your topic, have them land on your lens, qualify them, and then funnel them through to your website.
  • Sports Lenses – People love sports, both professional and youth sports. Squidoo Lenses are great for promoting a sport, sports team, local sports leagues, etc.

And the list goes on and on. For those who know about Squidoo, Lenses are the answer to a lot of questions.

Example Squidoo Lenses

Would you like to see a few Squidoo Lenses that are using Squidoo as a tool for funneling traffic to their website? Here are a few Squidoo Lenses currently being used to funnel web traffic to other websites:

How to Use Squidoo to Increase Website Traffic

Hopefully by now you’re pretty psyched about building a Squidoo Lens to use for funneling quality traffic to your website. So, how exactly do you do that? Well, it’s pretty simple actually. Almost all of the modules allow you to either insert copy, which you can then use to link to your website using HTML code, or upload an image, which you can also link to your website. I recommend that you link to your website in the first module, which is text-based module that everyone uses as their first module. It’s a module for explaining what your Lens is all about.

You can also use the RSS feed module to feed your blog articles into your Lens. You can use the Video module to embed your YouTube videos into your Lens. You can link to your Facebook and Twitter profiles. You’re limited only by your creativity. The important thing is that you build a Lens around a topic similar to your website, you optimize it with keywords related to that topic, make it valuable for your readers, and then hook it up to your website so that you can transfer traffic from search engines like Google and Bing, to your Squidoo Lens, and then onto your Website.

March 25 2012

10:00

February 17 2012

21:43

10 Usability Guidelines for a Remarkable Website

When your SEO strategy pays off, you’ll have plenty of traffic at your website, but the next challenge is to help your visitors find the information they need. A website that neglects usability guidelines will fail to capture the attention of readers and result in minimal return for each website visit—whether that’s building a mailing list, blog subscribers, or product sales.

Incoming search terms:

  • feedly com


Tags: SEO

February 15 2012

00:27

SEO Social Bookmarking Services | Social Bookmarking Submission Services

SEO Social Bookmarking Services | Social Bookmarking Submission Services - Social Bookmark Service – Benefit from manual Social Bookmarking Submission Services, Social Bookmarking SEO and social media bookmarking on dofollow social bookmarking sites by NDDW, the leading social bookmarking service provider.


Tags: SEO

February 10 2012

12:20

7 NEW Tips to Correctly Target Audience With SMO

SMO has become so popular that everyone’s doing at least something under the name of social media optimization. But the question is, are they doing the correct things to target an audience? Well, here are 7 NEW tips to correctly target your social media optimization activities:


Tags: SEO

February 09 2012

17:40

SEO Basics – Introduction to Search Engine Optimization

Search Engine Optimization or SEO is the process used to improve the visibility or “hits” of a website or page inside a search engine. As a rule, the earlier a web page shows up in search engine results then the more “hits” it will receive.


Tags: SEO

February 01 2012

19:47

Top SEO Factors to Review for 2012

The start of a new year is an opportune time to assess your goals and objectives at a certain point in time. You have the benefit of comparing your current benchmarks with that of the previous year’s results hence you may have a better guide on how to move forward for the coming year onwards.


Tags: SEO
15:26

Top SEO Factors to Review for 2012

The start of a new year is an opportune time to assess your goals and objectives at a certain point in time. You have the benefit of comparing your current benchmarks with that of the previous year’s results hence you may have a better guide on how to move forward for the coming year onwards.


Tags: SEO
12:03

Using Alexa for superior SEO

The human mind is a strange beast. It’s also a copycat. Why else would all SEO experts do the same thing again and again? In this situation many of us forget that there are some tools out there , like Alexa which can lead to superior SEO.


Tags: SEO

January 23 2012

15:48

Link Building Stategies For New Websites

A new website can be kind of fustrating at times. It doesn't always rank immediately. When it does rank it might not be ranking in the positions or on the pages you want them on. So what can you do? You start building more links! Everyone knows the more relevant, friendly links you have the better you will rank. Well that, and good content. If your having trouble creating your own link building strategy perhaps I can be of some assistance?


Tags: SEO
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