SEO

moz.com – a new search engine from Rand and the team at seomoz?

Edit:  Rand was nice enough to respond and explain a few things… his comment –   “No plans to build a public search engine, though we’ll likely keep developing the back end elements and perhaps someday even have a sandbox where one can see how our algorithms/metrics compare to the engines (definitely a few years or more away).”

Rand Fishkin and the team over at seomoz have been on a tear with their SEO tools over the last half decade.  They have slowly and steadily become the premiere source for SEO news and resources.  The have also been working on a top secret project under the domain moz.com.  What are they going to do with this amazingly short and precise URL?

Could a Search Engine Be In The Works?

The seomoz toolset already provides some of the most accurate resources for gauging online content.  The team has continued to roll-out and update their technologies to provide a precise view of how websites are ranking or should be ranked by the current major search engines.  More importantly, MozRank is the generally accepted alternative to googles PageRank algorithm.

Other key developments in 2012 are showing a much more aggressive push from the team in Seattle.  The company reported over 58 billion urls indexed in january of this year.  This amount of indexation is useful for the SEO products they’re marketing, but with an index of that size, there are obviously additional avenues they can monetize.

Additionally, SEOmoz is going to begin tackling webspam with a very “ambitious project”.  If Rand and his team can get a good understanding of how webspam is being handled by Google and Bing, not only can he provide a better service for his clients, but he can also incorporate those tools into his index and potentially create viable alternative to the primary engines currently available.

Lastly,  Moz just received $18 million in venture capital.  This capital is a welcome lift to the already profitable organization.  They have made it clear here that the capital will allow them to be more aggressive in terms of growth, both organic and through acquisitions.  They also discuss growing the index about 3x to 150b and also “Launch one very big, exciting new project we’ve been building since last year, hopefully in October or November of 2012, but possibly early 2013.”

I am not sure if they are actually building an engine, but it definitely wouldn’t hurt.  Faith in google is at an all time low and startup engines like duckduckgo are experiencing nearly vertical growth… literally  .  There may finally be room for another niche engine.  especially one with an already loyal user base.  And if this engine is willing to disclose a little piece of their magic algorithm, everyone may be a winner.

SEOmoz always preaches whitehat, best practices, are the key to online success.  I think they may be creating an engine that can prove it.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves… Bing has proven that creating a new search engine can be very difficult… and very costly..

 

What do you think moz.com is?

 

Top 5 Essential Word Press Plugins For Starting Your Next Blog

“If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.”
Abraham Maslow (1908-1970)

Working with SMBs who are ready to make the jump into the blogosphere, I always find a few missteps.  They are make the correct assumptions by attempting to utilize the web to increase awareness, drive traffic, and eventually build revenue online, but they’re also putting themselves at a disadvantage by not incorporating the right tools from the get go.

This is my barebones list of WP plugins necessary to begin your online marketing journey.

  1. Akismet – Now included with WordPress installations, this amazing tool is your #1 resource for fighting blog spam.  It is definitely worth the time to sign up for the API and for the good it does, I recommend paying the $5.00 a month for a Pro Membership
  2. WordPress SEO  by the Amazing Yoast – His amazing WP SEO plugin is self described as “the most complete WordPress SEO plugin that exists today” and the industry generally agrees.  All major SEO outlets recommend this  plugin for adding SEO to your posts.
  3. Google Analytics for WordPress by the Amazing Yoast – Another plugin from Joost de Valk.  This guy knows how to create useful plugins to help grow online traffic.. but he also created the best plugin to help you manage your online traffic.  This easy to install, update, and incorporate plugin will insure you dont miss a beat when tracking web traffic through your analytics accounts.
  4. WordPress Database Backup – There are a ton of these plugins out right now.  following the fiasco of wp sites getting generally destroyed last month with insecurities.  Making sure you continuously backup your WP database will insure you don’t feel the affects if another disaster strikes your website.  I recommend this one for one reason. It’s simple. It works.
  5. WP Super Cache – Another plugin now included in most WP org installs.  This caching plugin will generate html files that lower the drain on php and sql servers.  If you’re lucky and get the reddit or inbound.org affect on one of your websites, you’ll be glad you had this plugin installed…. for a few minutes.  Do the easy thing and turn this puppy on, avoid some headaches later.
  6. BONUS!  Related Posts –  There are a ton of these plugins, so just search on WP for them.  I would link to one, but the majority have too many ads and are a headache to navigate.   Add a Related Posts plugin as soon as you start blogging and TAG ALL OF YOUR POSTS.  As your blog grows, the link network will inherently grow as well.  This will increase readership while simultaneously dropping your bounce rate.   This is a win-win.

Do you have any better plugins I didnt mention? Did I completely miss the mark?  Let me know what plugins you like / dont like.

 

Google Maps SEO – Death of the KML boost

Over the past few years, I’ve made a little name for myself working with businesses on incorporating KML files with GEO sitemaps.  This practice is very beneficial for microsites wanting to incorporate multiple locations on a single google map for SEO or PPC campaigns.  I have previously blogged about this and provided step by step instructions on how to incorporate it.

Using Google’s proprietary KML format, developers were able to incorporate relevant data into listings including phone numbers, address, images, or anything else.

Google recently adjusted their policies to remove a lot of the boost associated with these practices.  It is still possible to incorporate certain data points, but the gains we’ve seen over the past few years using this secret are no longer possible.

Time to find a new way to include these details in landing pages.

 

HTML5 SEO Round Up! schema.org and more!

I have been pretty backed up lately. I started a new gig helping a popular e-learning organization expand their SEO efforts.  I want to start out by saying how blessed I am to have been given this opportunity.  Through great friends, I have been able to accomplish a lot.  so thanks..

I briefly wanted to start sharing some links and information that has been playing a larger role in my recent efforts.  HTML5 is now on the forefront of all internet marketing chatter.  It’s effective and well organized.  More importantly, it is one of the few things that Google, Bing, and Yahoo all agree on.  I want everyone to start out by checking out schema.org.  These tags are going to pay a pivotal and important role in the future of websites and SEO.  By incorporating the best practices available on this site, you will have an advantage moving forward.  Furthermore, you will be able to provide authorship and in turn stewardship for your brand and goals.

I plan on talking about schema.org more in the near future.  But for now I wanted to offer a few quick links for everyone to check out. Hope you enjoy!

html5 Boilerplate this is a great template or starting point for building a framework for an html5 website.  They go out of their way to emphasize that they are not a framework.  I would honestly agree.  Take a few minutes to checkout this website.  After that, take a few more minutes and watch some videos. There is an amazing team behind this and I think they deserve some attention!  Then check out the next link…

Initializr its like the html5 boilerplate but better!  well.. its actually the same thing, with more customization.  I am loving and digging what they’re doing with this technology.  Check out the bootstrap template and figure out how you can use this on your own technology.

Completely different but similar is Bones an html5 wordpress base theme.  They took the boilerplate a step further and I am very impressed. I anticipate using this more when I have time to test it.  I also dig pirates.

Last but not least… 23 free templates based in html5   for free.

Check it out. Enjoy. I will be back soon with more detailed information on seo for schema and html5.

SEO is an iterative process – choose your clients accordingly

It is no secret that SEO is a tricky business.  There are numerous intangibles when taking on projects that can include time commitment, technology commitment, and even client backlash and misunderstanding how changes can positively affect long-term SEO practices.  Beginner SEO’s are quick to accept almost any and all projects that come their way.  They are typically excited in their infancy and think they are ready to take on the world and build a name and brand through their successes.  As SEO’s grow and learn the landscape of internet marketing, many learn the ropes and are much more selective in client selection.

Sometimes saying no to an SEO job is better than taking a job you feel will be unsuccessful

The most difficult aspect of being an SEO is knowing when to decline a potentially lucrative contract.  For a lot of us, every dollar we earn helps the bottom line –  but the time investment, headaches, and potentially tarnished reputation can have longer lasting impact on earning potential than saying no to a shot term project.  This is especially true when working with clients who do not have a real understanding of how SEO works or what the endgame is on the project.  With that, you must ask yourself, Have expectations for this project been properly set?  More importantly, Can expectations even be set?

The main point im trying to make out of all of this is that SEO is an iterative process. It takes time, commitment, and a lot of A/B testing.  If your clients constantly question the recommendations you make to improve SEO, the website will never be successful.

In order to be successful as an SEO, you must work with the correct client.  

SEocial – SEO meets Social Media

Redundant blog post starts now! Social Media and SEO have been on a collision course for the last two or three years. The Major search engines include social media results in real time on their SERPs. With the recent release of Google Plus and the +1 button showing up in almost all of google products, social will continue to play a larger role in SEO. The social and seo industries have merged into one cohesive marketing segment. There is no longer a way to differentiate between an SEO and Social expert and businesses need to keep this in mind when search for online marketing support.

How is your business utilizing social? are you just updating news, current events, and specials? Do you engage customers and answer questions? Are you providing keyword rich replies with links to quantitative content? By incorporating the same best practices for SEO into social you will see high conversions in terms of sales and followers.

  • Engage Your Customers
  • Provide Relevant Keyword Rich Content
  • Cross Promote – Don’t Just Self Promote
  • Assist Your Fellow Social-ites
  • Link, Link, Link
  • Update frequently (3-5 times a week minimum)

By following these bullets you will start to see real results with your social strategies and in doing so you will directly assist your SEO.  Obviously this is very high level. You can be doing quite a bit more in terms of Video and other Social, but for a beginner these steps will definitely get you started on the right track.

SEO Questions to ask your clients

Being a fulltime SEO for a corporation, I find my side projects limited to helping one or two clients at a time.  Sometimes I think it would be nice to manage more clients to broaden my portfolio, but I think by engaging a limited number of companies at a time I can provide better service with stronger results.  I’ve recently come full circle and am helping a company I previously worked for in a different fashion with their search engine optimization.  I am very excited at the prospect of helping a company that helped me so much early in my career.

With this project, I plan on documenting certain steps that will hopefully help SMB’s who are trying to leverage SEO best practices for their own gain.  The first step on any search engine optimization project is to find out exactly what the company is trying to achieve with their SEO goals.  Below I have compiled a list of questions I frequently use before starting a new SEO project.  Feel free to review and use for your own purposes.

SEO / Social Questions

  • What type of customers / audiences are you trying to reach with search engine optimization?
  • What are the top keywords potential searchers would type to find your site?
  • What Keywords would you like to focus on?
  • What is your primary geography scope?  What are the main areas you’re currently targeting successfully?
  • What future areas do you plan on expanding to?
  • What tracking software do you have currently for monitoring visitors?
  • How difficult is it to make minor adjustments to code and content?
  • What are your growth expectations for the next 12-18 months?
  • What do you want to accomplish in terms of SEO in the next year?
  • Do you own any secondary domains that you’re not currently using?
  • What other forms of advertising are you currently participating in?
  • What is the current marketing strategy?
  • Who is your web host?
  • What platform is the website built on?
  • What company are you using to design your website currently?
  • What are some major roadblocks you’ve hit in the past with your SEO/ PPC / and Social campaigns?
  • How important are bing and yahoo to your organic traffic?

Social

  • How often are you updating your social media currently?
  • What would you like to focus on primarily?
  • Do you have a blog setup?
  • How often would you like to update social campaigns?
  • What do you want to convey through social media?
  • What type of image do you want to portray in terms of messaging, attitude, etc?

As I said before, this is just a small list for you to use to gauge your clients or your own needs.  Did I leave any important questions off?  let me know!

Video SEO – How did we get here?

I’d be late to the party if I were to say that “Video” is the next logical step in SEO strategy.  Industry experts and otherwise have been talking for over two years about the importance of video to drive traffic for websites.  As broadband speeds have increased at near exponential rates, media has become easily accessible at almost every level.  You can now watch netflix on your phone.  Think about that for a second.  10 years ago, if someone would tell me that i’d be watching HD quality tv shows and movies on device more powerful than the computer I was currently using that fits in my pocket I would have thought they were insane.

With the copious amounts of broadband streaming across the world, video consumption is the logical choice, and with that, youtube has quietly become the second largest search engine in the world.   Want to learn how to play guitar? you could google it, or you could use youtube and find countless tutorials for all your favorite songs.  The same thing goes for cooking, drawing, fixing your car, computer, or air conditioner.  Youtube has quickly become one of the primary sources for instruction, entertainment, or anything else.

With this growth, Google has (along time ago) started including relevant video content in search results if a video would be helpful in the results.  Knowing this, a clever SEO could start properly tagging videos with relevant keywords and use the videos to boost their brand above the fold on the SERP without needing to have their webpage showing up organically.  If done properly, the video and landing page could work in tandem to garner amazing SEO results.  Video SEO is the next logical step in the ever changing algorithms.  By providing great quality content, through video, social, or organic, everyone will win.

Job Board SEO – some thoughts

A few years ago I had the pleasure of briefly working for an amazing startup “job board.”  They are a niche job posting site focusing on high-end analytics jobs.  I truly enjoyed my brief stint with the company. I joined this company with aspirations of expanding my skillset with a focus on sales.  While I was moderately successful in helping the company achieve their sales numbers, I found myself being more useful offering ideas on SEO and marketing.  After about half a year, I came to terms with the fact that I would never be truly comfortable cold-calling and smile and dialing and parted ways with the company.

Although my stint with this company was brief, I was and am lucky enough to call all the employees and owners my friends.  To this day, I still assist the founders from time to time with recommendations and strategy to help point them in the right direction.

That’s just a little back story to the real reason I am posting today.  My friend shot me a message with a unique issue that I honestly found very intriguing.  This board has hundreds of recruiters and business posting jobs on their board at a time.  After each position is filled, it must be taken down, and the page must be expired.  What is the best way to handle the pages once they expire? Do you take them down with a 404, 301, or a custom this job has been filled page?  I highly recommended avoiding the 404.  I think that is the worst way to handle the response.  I am also a little finicky about the 301 redirect, but this was my first thought.  The final thought was to create a new page saying something like “this job is filled, but please check out the following similar jobs” and post a table with current similar jobs on the site.

I am not sure how this current Lose Weight Exercise will play out, but I am still researching some other methods and plan to suggest some more A/B testing, but it is obvious that their rankings are hurting.  They also may have gotten a little grief from the google #panda / #farmer update.  Which is also unfortunate because they’re not scraping content, all jobs are posted by companies, recruiters, or representatives.  Needless to say, this is my first post with more questions than advice.  I will post again next month with results from these events.

Search Engine Optimization Consulting – Dallas, TX

Consulting for search engine optimization (SEO) can be a daunting task.  In order to be a good consultant in any industry, you must first properly set expectations.  It is going to be a much healthier relationship with potential and recurring clients if your goals are outlined and well described from the outlet.

About 8 months ago I left SEO consulting behind here in Dallas.  I Decided to focus my efforts full time working for a telco at the INFOMART.  I have to say that this has been a very pleasurable experience and I hope to continue my relationship with this company for a long time to come.  By taking a risk and leaving my consulting role, I have learned many new skills outside of Search Engine Marketing and Optimization and have a much wider marketing skillset that has expanded in to print and media buys.  I love the challenge of learning something new, but my number one joy is still seeing the pages I create or help optimize showing up on the first page of a google SERP.

Remember when choosing the right SEO for your website or company to work with someone  you trust and can relate to.  Avoid blackhat shops or anyone who makes guarantees or sets unrealistic timetables.  SEO and SEM are quantitative processes that don’t change over night.  Patience with SEO and all business is a virtue.

I am also working on a couple new and exciting projects that I hope to discuss more in the future on this blog.  I want to see if some new techniques in SEO are favorable to the Google Instant search while still implementing long-tail.