Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Bye Bye Author Rank - Hello Schema and Content

by David Brown
Certified Content Marketer

A Gift from Google
Recently Google cancelled an important search engine strategy that many of us in SEO and internet marketing were relying on, spent hours getting our sites aligned with, and thought that "this strategy will never end - it makes so much sense".

What happened?

Testing, Testing, Testing
Anything that Google does in relation to their search engine algorithms can be considered a "market test", or experiment in providing their users the best search result experience in terms of quality and relevance of content.

In a Google + post by John Mueller, who had been involved with the authorship program since its inception at Google, he states that:

" We've gotten lots of useful feedback from all kinds of webmasters and users, and we've tweaked, updated, and honed recognition and displaying of authorship information. Unfortunately, we've also observed that this information isn’t as useful to our users as we’d hoped, and can even distract from those results. With this in mind, we've made the difficult decision to stop showing authorship in search results. "

The Silver Lining - Part 1 - Ranking 

The good news is that removing this program does not affect the ranking relevance of Google + posts.

"Search users will still see Google+ posts from friends and pages when they’re relevant to the query — both in the main results, and on the right-hand side. Today’s authorship change doesn't impact these social features."


The Silver Lining -  Part 2 - Structured Markup

Why this information was included in this same article is curious. Structured markup has nothing to do with authorship. The only reason I can think of as to why this was mentioned is to soften the blow of losing the authorship program to webmasters who spent hours understanding it, discussing it, and implementing it on their clients' web sites and blogs. The following quote from Mr Mueller shows Google's commitment to, and encouragement of structured markup also known as schema. 

"Going forward, we're strongly committed to continuing and expanding our support of structured markup (such as schema.org). This markup helps all search engines better understand the content and context of pages on the web, and we'll continue to use it to show rich snippets in search results."

Information on structured markup can be found at www.schema.org 

We have been including schema in our client's web sites for over a year now, as it seemed to be the right way to enhance the page's potential for ranking. Now it is becoming the norm.
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Authored by

David Brown

David Brown is an award winning internet marketing consultant and Certified Content Marketer. As owner of Logion Web Design, he has been in the SEO, web design, and content marketing industry since 1999. He is the sole author and publisher of this blog, Likes, Tweets and SEO, and also is the owner of Dentist Webmaster LLC, launched in 2013. He offers consulting and is accepting qualified accounts for monthly advanced SEO and content marketing services. His dog's name is Shaman.




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Saturday, August 2, 2014

The Top Five SEO Myths

by David Brown

In a recent video, Matt Cutts, Google's top spokesperson for best standards in SEO, speaks on various related topics on how Google calculates or uses their algorithms to generate page ranking relevance to keep users happy.

Matt focuses on Google Ads, SEO forums and popular yet misguided advice on article submissions, guest blogging, or the new, next "hot" thing to do. Matt refers to this type of advice as "churn and burn", "black hat", and "fly by night". No surprise there.




The Top 5 SEO Myths

1) SEO methods can outsmart Google and provide shortcuts for better page ranking such as using automated "SEO software".

2) Google does not know about all the SEO methods that are secretly done behind the scenes. 

3) No-follow links are worthless and don't help with Google 

4) The next, new hot thing is the best strategy now (promoted by marketers who had a different strategy a few months ago. )

5) Follow links are still the most important part of SEO

Google's main focus is to always keep improving the user experience to keep them happy and coming back to search for more. The web pages that seem to have the most relevance are those that do not use shortcuts but provide original, compelling content that engages the site visitor and causes them to want to share the information or stay on the web site longer than usual to make a purchase or explore the information in more depth. 

Comments on the Top 5 SEO Myths

1) There are a ton of scammers and spammers offering "top of Google"  services that have given SEO a bad name.  These services have a cost to them and that is how they make money. I know from direct experience. I have seen many programs come and go, and for some I admit that I drank the Kool Aid.

2) Google has continued to improve their algorithms and update their methods of search results (Panda, Penquin, and other names of updates). Anything that is published on the internet and that gets scanned by the Googlebots is fair game for analysis and evaluation of adhering to best standards or abusing those standards (i.e. keyword stuffing).

3) Although no-follow links are not used for page ranking purposes directly (according to Google), they are indexed when listed in site maps and I would venture to say that they help Google determine the relevance of content. They are not worthless but a tool to avoid link juice going to or from bad neighborhoods that have been or may be penalized. It may not be all black and white, but a gray area where Googlebots may be programmed to follow certain no-follow links depending on the authenticity of the content and other criterion. 

4) If you look at older forums and what people were saying a year ago, chances are that it was a different strategy than what is being discussed now. However, there are some top experts in SEO that have done research with current practices that may not be fully discussed by Google and have results that help with current strategy. This is different then the next "new, hot thing". 

5) Since there has been so much abuse of links, the trends in search engines is to not count links in the same way, and possibly to focus more on legitimate third party sharing of the content in social media as a "link". Fresh, updated, original content shows Google that you have the authority in your field, and are consistently contributing to consumer education about your industry, allowing for Google to provide more page ranking credit and relevance of your content. Sharing your original content on Google + and linking your content to your profile as author is important and considered one of the best SEO strategies.  
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Authored by

David Brown

David Brown is an award winning internet marketing consultant and Certified Content Marketer. As owner of Logion Web Design, he has been in the SEO, web design, and content marketing industry since 1999. He is the sole author and publisher of this blog, Likes, Tweets and SEO, and also is the owner of Dentist Webmaster LLC, launched in 2013. He offers consulting and is accepting qualified accounts for monthly advanced SEO and content marketing services. His dog's name is Shaman.




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Monday, July 14, 2014

Facebook Gets Naked

by David Brown


If Facebook were naked, what would it look like?

A massive social engineering information processing network gathering data on users preferences, behaviors, and interests? 

Changing the news feed intentionally to measure and influence behaviors?

Keeping their advertisers happy by allowing the targeting of demographic groups, ages, genders, and interests to intrude smartly into the news feed?

All of the above?

700,000 People's News Feeds Manipulated 

Recent news stories went viral when it was disclosed that Facebook  performed an experiment in 2012 that changed the news feed between positive or negative stories, in order to determine user response.

The company was researching whether they could alter the emotional states of approximately 700,000 people who did not know that they were being targeted for the experiment.

You could have been one of them.

If so, what would you do? would you cancel your account? 

According to a USA Today article, most people will not cancel their accounts because of this. Everyone who engages with their Facebook page seems to have become more and more enmeshed in news and connections with friends and family, insomuch that canceling the account would extinguish a main source of communication. If there are any cancellations, they will be but a small dent in the 1.3 billion Facebook users.

Frustrated with Facebook? You're not alone. What is the solution?

Many teens have already taken action by switching their main social networking accounts to Twitter and Instagram, instead of Facebook. 

Once my generation (the "boomers") began using Facebook more frequently, it changed the game for younger folks who no longer had the same level of privacy enjoyed before.

From a marketing viewpoint, I have promoted business clients on Facebook, with the expectation that at some point, the page fans will make a purchase or refer someone who will do so, by recommending the business to them.   

If Facebook were more transparent about their research and obtained permissions to participate in research studies, then it might prove to be a game changer.

Is There a Silver Lining for Us ?

There is if we agree that the largest social research laboratory in the world - Facebook - provides information to academic social researchers to improve social behaviors and further their research in a manner that has not been available before.

There is not, however, if we agree that performing experiments on us as Facebook users violates our privacy and stretches their Terms and Conditions policy.   

It may be more complicated than a simple yes or no answer, though. This goes beyond our own individual accounts into an unprecedented massive new research study into social media behavior.

According to Marlow Cameron, head of the Facebook Data Science Team,
“This is the first time the world has seen this scale and quality of data about human communication.” Marlow says this with a characteristically serious gaze, before breaking into a smile at the thought of what he can do with the data. For one thing, Marlow is confident that exploring this resource will revolutionize the scientific understanding of why people behave as they do. His team can also help Facebook influence our social behavior for its own benefit and that of its advertisers. He further states, “This work may even help Facebook invent entirely new ways to make money." MIT Review

Going Deeper

In an article entitled "What Facebook Knows" – published over one year ago in MIT Technology Review – we see that Facebook is the largest human behavior laboratory in the world. It's members are so large in number that they closely match the largest population in the world, with over 1 billion,300 million members. 

The article describes various methods by which Facebook gathers and analyzes the data and behavior of its members. It also shows how injecting certain new data into our timelines can influence other users' behavior. In one experiment initiated by Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook added an organ donor button, allowing people to show their friends that they were organ donors. Users were given an opportunity to click on a box on their timeline pages, triggering a notice to their friends, so that Facebook could measure the impact and influence of friend's behavior as a result of this. The new feature showed a dramatic increase in organ donor enrollment as a result.  

"The company’s social scientists are hunting for insights about human behavior. What they find could give Facebook new ways to cash in on our data—and remake our view of society."

This is, of course, the tip of the iceberg, and when Facebook is exposed for social engineering or manipulating data, I can assume that they are measuring the impact of news on users' behavior also. How many posts contained that news story? How many canceled memberships came as a result of it?

A Marketing Opportunity


Since I am on both sides of the fence – being a user member as well as a marketer – I can see the value of social media marketing compared to a keyword
 SEO approach, reaching for the top of Google on search results. With Facebook, you can boost a post and target a specific demographic. For example, for DUI defense, you might target a younger crowd. For assisted living, the target range would be women ages 55-65, who most likely could be caregivers for their elderly parents.

 The
 Facebook advertising platform also allows for targeting zip codes and interests shown in profiles, such as dancing. By targeting certain demographics and interests and by using an eye-catching visual, the paid advertising can be more effective than other more traditional means, such as yellow pages. 

Going one step further, the ideal content marketing is not paid, but creates compelling content that people would like and want to share on their own, creating a "free advertising," "word-of-mouth" result that also enhances the authority and popularity of the creator of the post.
 

This is an ongoing, constantly changing and fluid industry, and the reality is that people's
 time lines are so busy that a boosted post may not be seen or read by many.

However, when you have hundreds of fans and thousands of friends of those fans, it becomes a numbers game, and some will see and respond.

There have already been methods that have proven to work effectively in social media. It is a marketer's job to discern which is best for a client, as well as whether or not it fits into the client's budget.

Facebook may be ridiculed occasionally for what they have or have not done, and we may be exposed with all of our likes, shares, comments, and behaviors being analyzed. 

By the time we see the news of what has happened, it may already be old news, and we have already moved on to the next thing that grabs our attention or distracts us from what we are focusing on. 

Being naked may not be such a bad thing. We might just have to get used to it
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Authored by

David Brown

David Brown is an award winning internet marketing consultant and Certified Content Marketer. As owner of Logion Web Design, he has been in the SEO and content marketing industry since 1999. He is the sole author and publisher of this blog, Likes, Tweets and SEO, and also is the owner of Dentist Webmaster LLC, launched in 2013. He offers consulting and is accepting qualified accounts for monthly advanced SEO and content marketing services. His dog's name is Shaman. He is currently accepting monthly retainer accounts for content marketing consulting and services.




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Sunday, May 11, 2014

Web Designer Certified as Content Marketer

by David Brown



My business life has been just as much a journey as my personal one.

I have experienced lots of paths, change of directions, re-locations, and business changes along the way.

Before 1999, when I started with Internet marketing and web design, I was a CFP-CLU financial adviser and securities broker in both Northern and Southern California, a marketing manager for a large life insurance company, and a self-employed neon sign designer, installer and sign repair electrician in Chicago.

So here we are almost half way through 2014.

Wow.

There is so much content out there that we all have an overload. With the new type of marketing - content marketing - the key is to break through the overload and engage a prospective new customer.

It's a challenge.
 
By studying the strategy of copy writing and content marketing with Copyblogger's Authority Certification program, I learned much more than I had expected. My reaction when I found out that I received the designation:




Here's the Official News Release
Web Designer David Brown Certified as Content Marketer 
Web designer David Brown, owner of Logion Web Design, was recently certified as a content marketer by Copyblogger, an internet authority in content marketing.

Content marketing  is a relatively new method used to orchestrate original and compelling  content that is published on web sites, blogs, or social media to increase engagement by readers and eventually, sales. The type of content that is shared is closely related to the products or services being sold.

Examples include an attractive product photo on Pinterest, or an article or blog discussing the latest trends in home security. The content mainly focuses on educating prospective customers so that they know, like, and trust the content enough to do business with business owner who published the content. This is a distinction compared to selling. With selling and advertising, the content is pushed at the prospective customer. With content marketing, the customer finds the content on the Internet and learns about it without a direct sales pitch.  

The Certified Content Marketer designation was launched in 2014 by Copyblogger, an authority in copy writing and content marketing. The training course covers a wide range of content marketing strategies and as well as its relationship to Google’s page ranking rules. The trends and goals in content marketing aim for better quality, originality, reader engagement and social media sharing.

David Brown, the owner of Logion Web Design , with locations in Salem and Eugene, is among the first to receive the Certified Content Marketer designation from Copyblogger and has been actively involved in web design and internet marketing for over ten years. He is also the writer and publisher of “Likes, Tweets, and SEO” (
www.LikesTweetsandSEO.com),  a blog discussing internet marketing that has received over 34,000 views. For more information, go to www.logion.net.


Friday, May 9, 2014

The Dancing Website Makeover

by David Brown
Certified Content Marketer
Logion Web Design


It All Started with a Google Search

When Linda Springstead, owner-director of Dancewell Ballroom, searched online for a Portland webmaster, she found me at the top of her Google search and contacted me about Internet marketing.

After some discussion, we decided that her ballroom dancing website needed a major makeover to increase traffic; and the site needed to be more engaging in order to convert visitors once they arrived.

On her existing site, some pages were not accessible from the navigation menu, and it lacked a best standards approach to integrate design with functionality and user-friendly navigation.

Although Linda was on a tight budget, we worked out a fair pricing structure for a custom site, and then an ongoing monthly retainer for Internet marketing.

Best Usability for the Dancewell Ballroom Logo

Usability studies have shown that most people scan and read web pages in a pattern of the letter ‘F’: starting in the upper left corner, then across and back, down and then across again, then down. So, the best placement for a logo is in the upper left corner of the page, and we made sure to place Dancewell’s logo in the top left of their site. Next to the logo we created a banner for the header area with a stunning Tango couple and Portland at night in the background. The tall buildings interfered with the logo area so we reversed the image to move the buildings to the right. If anyone notices, we advised our client to say that Dancewell Ballroom is turning Portland around with its dance programs.

Before and After

The photos below show before and after screenshots of the website. Below the header is a personal greeting with Linda's photo that always has a current date above it, a Facebook widget for updates of dance events, and four featured categories that are the most used by new site visitors: Getting Started, Calendar, Group Classes, and Private Lessons.
The navigation makes extensive use of the drop-down feature, allowing for a build out of web pages to address all of the relevant areas of information including dance styles and videos, what to expect in a group class, beginners information, and a calendar of dance events and classes.
www.DancewellBallroom.com

Increased Web Traffic
Dancewell Ballroom now is at the top of Google search results for major dance keywords in local search, and the number of site visitors to Linda’s blog has exceeded 11,000 in the past year. When they added a new  location for the majority of classes, we started and are continuing a focused campaign to ensure that Google knows about the address change. In addition to making the changes on the website, Google Places, and Google Plus, we also made sure that the footer of every page had a schema, or rich snippets, with the new address change.     

Authored by
David Brown

David Brown is a Certified Content Marketer and an award winning Internet marketing consultant. As owner of Logion Web Design, he has been in the SEO and content marketing industry since 1999. He is the sole author and publisher of this blog, Likes, Tweets and SEO, and also is the owner of Dentist Webmaster LLC, launched in 2013. He offers consulting and is accepting qualified accounts for monthly advanced SEO and content marketing services.




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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

SEO Tips Part 4 - Goodbye Yellow Brick Road - Link Building Schemes, Pagerank

by
David Brown

Links That Make You Blink 
Many small business owners still think that buying links and using certain link schemes are valid and helping with their page ranking.

Unfortunately, due to a prolific amount of scammers (link sellers) and spammers (those emails that promise you the "top of Google"), we are all inundated with link mania and page ranking link schemes. Black hat SEO? Enough already, do you think?

Here's what Google has to say about link schemes - methods that try to trick or fool the search engine to give it better page ranking. In reality, it may have the opposite effect with penalties from Google.

What is a "Link Scheme"? (aka "Black Hat" SEO)
A link scheme is any link intended to manipulate Google's page ranking algorithm.This includes links to and from a web site.

Some examples include:

Buying links such as advertised in spam emails -" 40 PR5 back links for a screaming deal of only $25", etc. Link exchanges - trading links to each other's site from another web site in your industry.

News releases or article marketing that includes "follow" links.
Guest posting campaigns that include or allow links in the guest post.
Automated programs that set up links systematically "in a way that avoids Google penalties". Right.
Unnatural links - that were not placed by a verified owner of a web site including text ads that pass page rank, advertorials - articles that pass page rank, optimized anchor text links (used to be a major SEO strategy)

Google's message to "Black Hat" SEO - Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. Hello Hummingbird and algorithm updates.

 What Does Google Want with Links?
It all comes down to content quality, from a verified author, that is being read and linked from third parties from their own computers and accounts. It's all about transparency, authenticity, quality, and external social acceptance of the content. Unique and relevant content will win every time.

The content is what creates the links from people finding it helpful and authoritative enough to share it. I would go so far to say that the "follow" and "no follow" code used to advise search engines what to do with links may be superseded by the Google Bot algorithm analyzing the content and how it was shared or used by others. So a "follow" may not be followed and a "no follow" may still be given credit for the content, which would have a similar page ranking effect as "follow". It may sound crazy but it is not beyond the goals of Google for authentic content search results.

Trying to second guess Google may not be helpful but looking at  the trends that they have shown in their updates of analyzing content and filtering out manipulative link methods are important.
Hint - when you use Google + for sharing content, blogs, etc. and you follow the above guidelines, they seem to have a "built-in" reward for better page ranking as a result of using their own networking platform. When they can verify authorship and publisher, and can see a direct relationship to a web site or blog, then the content becomes "trusted" by Google as authentic. As a result, they can trust the content because it has passed through their "filters" even before the Google Bot sees it. No surprise there. 


What the Experts Say
According to Cyrus Shepard of Moz in a recent post, "Ten Smart Tips to Leverage Google + for Increased Web Traffic",

"When Google+ was born, it was a bonanza for links, and seen as an SEO paradise. Since that time, Google has replaced most equity passing followed links with "nofollow", which pass no link equity. This includes profile links, "contributor to," and shared URLs.
There is one exception. Public +1's remain followed. For now, whenever a visitor +1s your content without sharing it to their stream, this results in a followed link as long as the visitor has +1's set to "public." This could be an oversight, or Google could remove these followed links soon.
While the value of +1s for SEO has been debated again and again, this may be the last remaining place that a +1 may actually pass link equity."
------------------------------

The Future of PageRank - 13 Experts on the Dwindling Value of the Link
In this informative blog, experts discuss the same idea that I mentioned above that "follow" and "no follow" may not be relevant anymore when Google just looks at the content.
http://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2014/02/25/pagerank

Bottom Line: Build Quality Content and Forget About Links (Almost)

The main focus gets back to basics - create unique, interesting, high quality content and let others decide if they want to link to it. Post your title and short summary on Google + and place a link to the content there. Make sure that you have the authorship connection between your Google + account and your published content. 


 
Authored by

David Brown

David Brown is a Certified Content Marketer and an award winning internet marketing consultant. As owner of Logion Web Design, he has been in the SEO and content marketing industry since 1999. He is the sole author and publisher of this blog, Likes, Tweets and SEO, and also is the owner of Dentist Webmaster LLC, launched in 2013. He offers consulting and is accepting qualified accounts for monthly advanced SEO and content marketing services. His dog's name is Shaman.




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Thursday, May 1, 2014

SEO Tips Part 3 - Why Copywriting is the # 1 SEO Method

by David Brown

Copywriting is the Key to the Best SEO


Old School Copywriting vs New School
Old School copywriting did not take into account the speed of the internet and impatience of prospective buyers on the web. You may already know this. Usually we are asked to buy something directly through persuasive copywriting. We get hooked at the beginning and dragged down into an obvious offer. For many, it's too much in-your-face. You may have seen these long web pages with persuasive sales copy, amazing benefits, red colored subtitles, rave reviews, and an offer that you "can't refuse" at the end. This is the "old school" of copywriting. It is still effective, and gets conversions, but has not adapted to the internet reader in my opinion.

The new school of copywriting recognizes the internet reader, Google's approach to content, and the need for a user generated engagement versus a forced overkill of persuasive methods. We are offered free content, or a free trial so we can see the quality of the product before we decide to buy. The new school of copywriting  puts you in the driver's seat to make a free choice because you usually know instantly whether you want to trust the words, the images, and the brand.  Conversions are first done through subscription to the content, then continuing engagement. A purchase has to be earned rather than forced. For Red Bull , the content is so compelling that the energy drink of choice is their brand for their millions of loyal followers.


Effective Copywriting Engages and Establishes Your Authority

The best SEO or search engine optimization is when your content is compelling enough to have readers share, engage, +1, like, re-tweet, and "vote" a big yes to what you present. This establishes your authority in their minds and if there is an offer to subscribe to your content, then they will sign up for the free email or report, or ebook. Google has changed their algorithms to include social engagement to the extent that it has become an important aspect of page ranking.

Copywriting is the number one SEO method when it is proven to Google to be important and relevant enough by social engagement. For small business owners, it is often hard to develop the quality and quantity of copywriting needed to add more content to a web site, YouTube channel, or blog. Usually a content marketing consultant or strategist will be retained on a monthly basis to provide the planning, creativity, and content to establish a strong foundation and structure for better SEO. 

next > SEO Tips Part 4 - Goodbye Yellow Brick Road - Link Building Schemes, Pagerank


Authored by

David Brown

David Brown is an award winning internet marketing consultant and Certified Content Marketer. As owner of Logion Web Design, he has been in the SEO and content marketing industry since 1999. He is the sole author and publisher of this blog, Likes, Tweets and SEO, and also is the owner of Dentist Webmaster LLC, launched in 2013. He offers consulting and is accepting qualified accounts for monthly advanced SEO and content marketing services. His dog's name is Shaman.




Subscribe to this blog in the widget top right, to be sure that you receive the next post by email or RSS.