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Top 10 Things to Know About SEO

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Knektion's Eric Highland breaks down the Top 10 Things to Know About SEO at Social Media Breakfast - Austin.

Knektion's Eric Highland breaks down the Top 10 Things to Know About SEO at Social Media Breakfast - Austin.

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  • Birds eye view. Search engine optimization encompasses any methods a person uses to get a website or blog to rank well on search engine results pages. Methods may be paid or organic. White hat or black hat (black hat = go against search engines’ terms). Should be on-page and off-page. During this talk, I’ll focus on white-hat, organic methods that are on-page and off-page. Will also focus on Google, which has a 66.8% market share as of May 2012, versus Bing’s 15.6% and Yahoo’s 13%. Notes on paid search if anyone asks: 2011 study by Google: Google found that 89% of traffic generated by paid search ads is NOT replaced by organic clicks when your paid search campaigns are offline. (http://www.pardot.com/search/option-paid-search-organic-search) // Recent news: Clicks on paid search listings beat out organic clicks by nearly a 2:1 margin for keywords with high commercial intent in the US. (http://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2012/07/17/google-advertising) BUT 2010: paid results get ~12% of all clicks on search results while organic results garner the remaining 88% (Enquisite's analytics research) – this is dated, but I’ve seen more recent data saying similar things. // We steer away from paid SEO for two reasons: First, many of our clients have limited budgets and we believe we can get them the best long-term results by focusing on organic SEO. Second, we believe that as web surfers become more savvy, they will become increasingly aware of and wary of ads over time.
  • Your efforts in social media can work in tandem with SEO efforts. The social media market is saturated and you have a lot of competition. If you understand SEO, it sets you apart. By getting a grasp on SEO basics, you are empowered to provide extra value to your clients/company AND you will be more marketable.
  • Google Doodle – Harry Houdini
  • Search engines are information portals. You usually do a Google search to answer a question: who, what, why, how, when, where. By serving up high quality, relevant results, Google will earn your trust and get you to come back. By getting you and millions of others to come back, Google is able to remain an advertising giant and make its money. Google wants good content. If you create good content, Google will like you. This is an oversimplified statement, but it’s the place we need to start any SEO journey. Write for Humans – over time, search engines are becoming less and less easy to game. Search engines send out robots to gather and index information. Over time, the robots are becoming smarter and more human-like. As you create content on a website or blog, the best long-term strategy is to write for your human readers. Value of Dynamic Content
  • There are many reasons to utilize images and videos for search engine optimization. Images. As you may know from studying your metrics on Facebook, photos garner the most engagement. On web pages, they also serve as hooks to get your visitors engaged. But remember that robots can’t see images, so you need to help them know what your image is. 1) File name/Title. Before uploading your photo to your site, name it properly. Separate words with dashes. Don’t know what to name your image? Proper names of people and locations in the picture are often good choices. Think in terms of your target audience. What “question” might they ask a search engine that your image/article could “answer”? 2) Alt tag (technically correct term is alt attribute). The text that is displayed when an image is not visible. Don’t keyword-stuff your alt tag. Make it a brief and accurate description of your image, but remember that search bots see your alt tags. Including keywords, when relevant, is important. Other ways to optimize your images is to include keywords in the text around your image, keep your image sizes as small as possible, and limit the number of images per page. These are ways you can optimize for search engines, but there are also ways you can optimize for human visitors. Many articles are available online and I’d suggest you poke around a bit. Videos. You have two options: Host your video on a site like YouTube or Vimeo, or host it yourself. Hosting yourself has advantages – number one is probably that you don’t have to worry about the video ON YouTube outranking your web page with the video on it. But for non-techies and those with smaller teams, hosting on YouTube, etc. is perfectly acceptable and can still really help your SEO strategies. Make sure your title, description and keyword fields are filled in when you upload your video to YouTube. The great benefit of putting videos on your website is that they add to your Time on Site (TOS). But don’t make them too long and make sure they’re relevant. If the video is yours, you may want to add a complete transcript underneath the video (SEOmoz does this with Whiteboard Friday) – remember, search engines can read the text. Even if you don’t want to add the transcript, you should still devote some text space to describing the video. A surprising amount of traffic comes from image search. Plus, images and YouTube videos are often shown on the first page of search results.
  • Unlike hide and seek, you want to be found. Keywords are single words OR phrases that people search for. Examples range from “thai food austin” to “nike” to “facebook changes 2012.” Consider the bots. They want to know what your page is about, and you need to tell them. You should choose a primary keyword for every web page and place it in visible and invisible spots on your page: 1) Meta title, meta description, page title, URL slug, first paragraph of content and throughout the page, headers, in image names, in video names, around images and videos. DO NOT KEYWORD STUFF. Read your page outloud. If it reads unnaturally, you probably put your keyword in too many times. When doing keyword research, we always keep supply and demand in mind. Divide demand by supply and you get profitability. Anything over 1 is potentially profitable – the demand outweighs the supply. So how do you find profitable keywords? First, brainstorm. What keywords are your competitors using? Put yourself in the shoes of your clients/prospects/vendors/target audience – what are they searching for? Use a thesaurus for synonyms. Google Adwords Tools is often the free tool that many people start with. It will give you global and local demand numbers, that you can compare keyword to keyword. It does not give you exact supply numbers, but it does tell you the competition level (high/medium/low). SEOBook is more sophisticated, but also free. We actually have a video tutorial on YouTube that you can find by searching for “knektion youtube.” WordPress for SEO plugin by Yoast to add meta title and meta description to blog.
  • Internal linking structure on your website or blog matters. Very simply: how does a person or a bot get from your home page to every other page on your website? How many clicks does it take? If a visitor enters your website from a random page off a search engine, how do they get to your other pages? How do you lead them where you want them to go? Indexing: We organize our websites in tiers. Tier 1 is the Home Page. Pages that the Home Page links to are Tier 2. Pages that Tier 2 pages link to are Tier 3. We try to never go deeper than Tier 3 because we want Google to index all of our pages. Navigability: User experience is very important. If visitors can’t find what they’re looking for, they’ll bounce right off. Link Juice: You can actually tell Google which of your pages are the most important by the way you link within your website. For example, say you have page that talks about your upcoming conference and has a link to register. You want visitors to see that page. Direct other pages on your website to it. You will get more real visitors, and Google will see that you value that page. (Article for research: http://www.seomoz.org/learn-seo/internal-link)
  • Link-building has been one of the keystones of SEO for a long time. Link-building refers to the process of getting links to your website from outside websites. One of the reasons that link-building has been seen as so important traces back to the advent of Google PageRank. Every website has a PageRank, and the PageRank is determined by how many websites link to you, and what their PageRank is. It was a way of saying how important your website was. PageRank isn’t as important as it used to be, and it doesn’t correlate strongly to search engine results placement. Meaning, even if you have a high PageRank, you may not rank well on Google. And isn’t that the real goal? Though most people don’t focus specifically on building their PageRank anymore, they still focus on building links. Why? Links still matter. Think about it. Google sees links as a vote of confidence. They’ve been one of the most important ways that Google’s robots could determine what’s good content and what’s not. But there have been changes afoot. Overtime, shady people developed ways to get links…and they did it the wrong way. They bought links, which is against Google’s terms of service. They participated in link networks. As I’ve mentioned before, Google is becoming more adept at identifying black-hat stuff. There are many people who focus a great deal of energy on link-building. Doing it right requires a humongous time investment. Identifying quality websites that are related, reaching out to webmasters, following up, monitoring, wash, rinse, repeat. It does matter and it can be worth the effort. But for small businesses with small teams and limited time, there’s another way of looking at link-building. If you’re creating awesome content, people will link to you naturally. Stay on the look-out for easy opportunities to get a link and never be afraid to ask.
  • This is the really exciting part. What you do as a social media professional directly impacts the ranking of website content, and there’s every reason to believe that search engine algorithms are trending this way – that social signals will matter more as time goes on. Some SEOs have even said that it may one day matter more than link signals. (Article by Shelley Kramer for research: http://www.v3im.com/2012/07/research-shows-social-shares-impact-search-results/#axzz21SnHGlcw, article by Danny Sullivan: http://marketingland.com/when-everyone-gets-the-vote-social-shares-as-the-new-link-building-5497) May 2012: High volume Twitter activity leads to a fantastic rankings boost, with URLs receiving over 7,500 tweets almost always ranking on the first page of Google. (http://www.business2community.com/twitter/finally-proven-twitter-does-affect-google-rankings-0171196#0jyRsQRkljkxeejo.99) But the current caveat is that social shares decay in value over time. Currently, what keeps pages ranking well is links (source?).
  • Expectations Measuring Using Tools
  • This has been a crazy year for those in search engine optimization. Google has released some major updates that have rocked our worlds and caused many of us to radically alter our techniques and routines. Many have suffered by terrifying drops in rankings and struggled to figure out what went wrong and how to fix it. Think about it – if you’re an online company and your traffic drops 50%, what do you think happens to your sales? So let’s look at what came down and what we learned: Panda 1.0 was released in February 2011, with 2.0 in April 2011. It went global with 2.4 in August 2011. No official 3.0. 3.1 in November 2011. Now on Panda 3.8 – unprecedented lifespan for a named update. Panda targets low quality content. “This update is designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sites—sites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful. At the same time, it will provide better rankings for high-quality sites—sites with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on.” –BrickMarketing.com (http://www.brickmarketing.com/blog/panda-penguin-updates.htm) Penguin – April 2012. “After weeks of speculation about an "Over-optimization penalty", Google finally rolled out the "Webspam Update", which was soon after dubbed "Penguin." Penguin adjusted a number of spam factors, including keyword stuffing, and impacted an estimated 3.1% of English queries.” –SEOmoz Takeaways: Avoid spam and aim for high quality that you would want to read yourself.
  • General Discussion Q&A
  • Transcript

    • 1. Tell Your Friends About SMB #SMBAustin @kerbeylanecafe (thank you!) @EricHighland @Knektion
    • 2. Top 10 Things You Must Know About SEO Even Though You Think SEO Has Nothing to Do with Social Media By Eric Highland
    • 3. What is SEO
    • 4. What is SEONotes: Search engine optimization encompasses any methods a person uses to get a website or blog to rank well on search engine results pages. Methods may be paid or organic. White hat or black hat (black hat = do not comply with search engines’ terms). Should be on-page and off- page. During this talk, I’ll focus on white-hat, organic methods that are on-page and off-page. Will also focus on Google, which has a 66.8% market share as of May 2012, versus Bing’s 15.6% and Yahoo’s 13%. Paid search notes: In 2011 study by Google, Google found that 89% of traffic generated by paid search ads is NOT replaced by organic clicks when your paid search c . In recent news, clicks on paid search listings beat out organic clicks by nearly a 2:1 margin for keywords with high commercial intent in the US. BUT paid results get ~12% of all clicks on search results while organic results garner the remaining 88% (Enquisites analytics research). At Knektion, we steer away from paid SEO for two reasons. First, many of our clients have limited budgets and we believe we can get them the best long-term results by focusing on organic SEO. Second, we believe that as web surfers become more savvy, they will become increasingly aware of and wary of ads over time.
    • 5. Why Does SEO Matter to You?
    • 6. Why Does SEO Matter to You?Notes: Your efforts in social media can work in tandem with SEO efforts. The social media market is saturated and you have a lot of competition. If you understand SEO, it sets you apart. By getting a grasp on SEO basics, you are empowered to provide extra value to your clients/company AND you will be more marketable.
    • 7. Top 10 Things You Must Know About SEO
    • 8. #1 - Content is Powerful
    • 9. #1 – Content is PowerfulNotes:• Search engines are information portals. You usually do a Google search to answer a question: who, what, why, how, when, where. By serving up high quality, relevant results, Google will earn your trust and get you to come back. By getting you and millions of others to come back, Google is able to remain an advertising giant and make its money. Google wants good content. If you create good content, Google will like you. This is an oversimplified statement, but it’s the place we need to start any SEO journey.• Write for Humans: over time, search engines are becoming less and less easy to game. Search engines send out robots to gather and index information. Over time, the robots are becoming smarter and more human-like. As you create content on a website or blog, the best long-term strategy is to write for your human readers.• Practical tip #1: Provide quality content via your website or blog, no less than 300 words per page, that is unique and engaging. And do it regularly, preferably 3-5 times per week, and no less than 2. This is called dynamic content. It means that you have new and fresh material regularly and that your website isn’t static like a dilapidating house that is crumbling, but vibrant and fresh. Google understands this and rewards it.
    • 10. #2 – It’s Not Just Text
    • 11. #2 – It’s Not Just TextNotes:• Images. As you may know from studying your metrics on Facebook, photos garner the most engagement. On web pages, they also serve as hooks to get your visitors engaged. But remember that robots can’t see images, so you need to help them know what your image is. 1) File name/Title. Before uploading your photo to your site, name it properly. Separate words with dashes. Don’t know what to name your image? Proper names of people and locations in the picture are often good choices. Think in terms of your target audience. What “question” might they ask a search engine that your image/article could “answer”?• 2) Alt tag (technically correct term is alt attribute). The text that is displayed when an image is not visible. Don’t keyword-stuff your alt tag. Make it a brief and accurate description of your image, but remember that search bots see your alt tags. Including keywords, when relevant, is important.• Other ways to optimize your images is to include keywords in the text around your image, keep your image sizes as small as possible, and limit the number of images per page. These are ways you can optimize for search engines, but there are also ways you can optimize for human visitors. Many articles are available online and I’d suggest you poke around a bit.
    • 12. #2 – It’s Not Just TextNotes:• Videos. As of 2012, 72 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. More video is uploaded to YouTube in two months than ABC, CBS and NBC created in 6 decades. You have two options: Host your video on a site like YouTube or Vimeo, or host it yourself. Hosting yourself has advantages – number one is probably that you don’t have to worry about the video ON YouTube outranking your web page with the video on it. But for non-techies and those with smaller teams, hosting on YouTube, etc. is perfectly acceptable and can still really help your SEO strategies. Make sure your title, description and keyword fields are filled in when you upload your video to YouTube. The great benefit of putting videos on your website is that they add to your Time on Site (TOS). But don’t make them too long and make sure they’re relevant. If the video is yours, you may want to add a complete transcript underneath the video (SEOmoz does this with Whiteboard Friday). Remember, search engines can read the text. Even if you don’t want to add the transcript, you should still devote some text space to describing the video.• A surprising amount of traffic comes from image search. Plus, images and YouTube videos are often shown on the first page of search results.• Practical tip #2: Use images and videos. 2-5 images per page, properly keyworded. And if you use a video, provide descriptive text and keep it short.
    • 13. #3 – Keywords Are Key
    • 14. #3 – Keywords Are KeyNotes:• Unlike hide and seek, you want to be found. Keywords are single words OR phrases that people search for. Examples range from “thai food austin” to “nike” to “facebook changes 2012.”• Consider the bots. They want to know what your page is about, and you need to tell them. You should choose a primary keyword for every web page and place it in visible and invisible spots on your page: 1) Meta title, meta description, page title, URL slug, first paragraph of content and throughout the page, headers, in image names, in video names, around images and videos. DO NOT KEYWORD STUFF. Read your page outloud. If it reads unnaturally, you probably put your keyword in too many times.• When doing keyword research, we always keep supply and demand in mind. Divide demand by supply and you get profitability. Anything over 1 is potentially profitable – the demand outweighs the supply.• So how do you find profitable keywords? First, brainstorm. What keywords are your competitors using? Put yourself in the shoes of your clients/prospects/vendors/target audience – what are they searching for? Use a thesaurus for synonyms. Google Adwords Tools is often the free tool that many people start with. It will give you global and local demand numbers, that you can compare keyword to keyword. It does not give you exact supply numbers, but it does tell you the competition level (high/medium/low). SEOBook is more sophisticated, but also free. We actually have a video tutorial on YouTube that you can watch by clicking here.• Use WordPress for SEO plugin by Yoast to add meta title and meta description to blog.• Practical tip #3: Research your keywords, keeping supply, demand and profitability in mind. Use the free tools available and place your keyword properly on your web pages, without keyword stuffing. Make your page reads naturally.
    • 15. #4 – Linking Structure Matters
    • 16. #4 – Linking Structure MattersNotes:• Internal linking structure on your website or blog matters. Very simply: how does a person or a bot get from your home page to every other page on your website? How many clicks does it take? If a visitor enters your website from a random page off a search engine, how do they get to your other pages? How do you lead them where you want them to go?• Indexing: We organize our websites in tiers. Tier 1 is the Home Page. Pages that the Home Page links to are Tier 2. Pages that Tier 2 pages link to are Tier 3. We try to never go deeper than Tier 3 because we want Google to index all of our pages.• Navigability: User experience is very important. If visitors can’t find what they’re looking for, they’ll bounce right off.• Link Juice: You can actually tell Google which of your pages are the most important by the way you link within your website. For example, say you have page that talks about your upcoming conference and has a link to register. You want visitors to see that page. Direct other pages on your website to it. You will get more real visitors, and Google will see that you value that page. Read this SEOmoz article for more information.• Practical tip #4: Check the navigability of your site. Have some friends check it out too and give you feedback. Decide what your most important pages are, and build internal links that drive visitors there and inform bots that you value those pages.
    • 17. #5 – Link-Building is Shifting
    • 18. #5 – Link-Building is ShiftingNotes:• Link-building has been one of the keystones of SEO for a long time. Link-building refers to the process of getting links to your website from outside websites. One of the reasons that link- building has been seen as so important traces back to the advent of Google PageRank. Every website has a PageRank, and the PageRank is determined by how many websites link to you, and what their PageRank is. It was a way of saying how important your website was.• PageRank isn’t as important as it used to be, and it doesn’t correlate strongly to search engine results placement. Meaning, even if you have a high PageRank, you may not rank well on Google. And isn’t that the real goal? Though most people don’t focus specifically on building their PageRank anymore, they still focus on building links. Why? Links still matter. Think about it. Google sees links as a vote of confidence. They’ve been one of the most important ways that Google’s robots could determine what’s good content and what’s not.
    • 19. #5 – Link-Building is ShiftingNotes:• But there have been changes afoot. Overtime, shady people developed ways to get links… and they did it the wrong way. They bought links, which is against Google’s terms of service. They participated in link networks. As I’ve mentioned before, Google is becoming more adept at identifying black-hat stuff.• There are many people who focus a great deal of energy on link-building. Doing it right requires a humongous time investment. Identifying quality websites that are related, reaching out to webmasters, following up, monitoring, wash, rinse, repeat. It does matter and it can be worth the effort.• But for small businesses with small teams and limited time, there’s another way of looking at link-building. If you’re creating awesome content, people will link to you naturally. Stay on the look-out for easy opportunities to get a link and never be afraid to ask.• Practical tip #5: Link building is important, but don’t cut corners. Write unique quality content and build relationships. Provide proper outbound links from your web pages, but keep their number to a minimum.
    • 20. #6 – Social Sharing Affects Your Rank
    • 21. #6 – Social Sharing Affects Your RankNotes:• This is the really exciting part. What you do as a social media professional directly impacts the ranking of website content, and there’s every reason to believe that search engine algorithms are trending this way – that social signals will matter more as time goes on. Some SEOs have even said that it may one day matter more than link signals. Read this article by Shelley Kramer and this article by Danny Sullivan for more information.• May 2012: High volume Twitter activity leads to a fantastic rankings boost, with URLs receiving over 7,500 tweets almost always ranking on the first page of Google.• The current caveat is that social shares decay in value over time. Currently, what keeps pages ranking well is inbound links.• Practical tip #6: Be socially active online. Encourage social activity on your site or blog. Appeal to real people because real people appeal to bots.
    • 22. #7 - Solid Results Take Time
    • 23. #7 – Solid Results Take TimeNotes: Practical tip #7: Be patient and don’t expect overnight results. Track your analytics regularly to ensure that you’re heading in the right direction, and not wasting your or your company’s time.
    • 24. #8 – Choose Your Consultant Wisely
    • 25. #8 – Choose Your Consultant WiselyNotes: So many individuals and companies have been burned because they didn’t stay informed. Black-hat strategies have found large companies like Home Depot and JC Penny with plummeting rankings and public shame. You can avoid finding yourself in this position by asking the right questions. Does the SEO comply with Google’s terms of service? How do they build links? Any whiff of paid links or link networks should cause you to turn and run. You should also sense that your consultant values people and user experience. Gaming the system is working less and less. Practical tip #8: Look for an SEO who values people and user experience – someone who provides realistic expectations and metrics, and believes in your product or service. Never hire someone who pays for links or participates in link networks.
    • 26. #9 - Beware of Cute Black and White Animals
    • 27. #9 – Beward of Cut Black and White AnimalsNotes:• This has been a crazy year for those in search engine optimization. Google has released some major updates that have rocked our worlds and caused many of us to radically alter our techniques and routines. Many have suffered by terrifying drops in rankings and struggled to figure out what went wrong and how to fix it. Think about it – if you’re an online company and your traffic drops 50%, what do you think happens to your sales?• So let’s look at what came down and what we learned:• Panda 1.0 was released in February 2011, with 2.0 in April 2011. It went global with 2.4 in August 2011. No official 3.0. 3.1 in November 2011. Now on Panda 3.9 (as of the night before my presentation) – an unprecedented lifespan for a named update. Panda targets low quality content. “This update is designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sites—sites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful. At the same time, it will provide better rankings for high-quality sites—sites with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on.” –BrickMarketing.com
    • 28. #9 – Beward of Cute Black and White AnimalsNotes:• Penguin – April 2012. “After weeks of speculation about an "Over-optimization penalty", Google finally rolled out the "Webspam Update", which was soon after dubbed "Penguin." Penguin adjusted a number of spam factors, including keyword stuffing, and impacted an estimated 3.1% of English queries.” –SEOmoz• Practical takeaway #9: Stay up to date with SEO. It can really affect your site’s ranking in both positive and negative ways. Work only with white hat SEOs who keep up to date.
    • 29. #10 – SEO is Always Evolving