Thursday, August 15, 2013

How Personalization Affects Search Results

Published on by: James H. Hobson

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Social Media - Leverage It Strategically

User Data & Usage Affects Search Results

The information most frequently cited in this article largely comes from Rand Fishkin who produces, among other tings, Whiteboard Friday tutorial videos. For those that do not know of Rand, he is an advocate for internet marketing best practices. The video below is one of our recent favorites and one that we feel is a "must see" for any SEO practitioner or business website manager.

Factors such as location bias and usage history can influence your search results. If you search for relatively generic terms such as "coffee shops" it is probable that a search engine will show results that are slanted toward your IP location address or that are relative to areas you commonly include in search queries.

Social connections that are know to search engines can influence the search results presented to you. If people within your social network show a preference for something relative to your search query you may be served some of this content. In simple terms, search engines may beleive that if your friends like something then you probably will also like it.

Whiteboard Friday on Personalization and SEO

Social Media Strategies

It's a smart move to develop a comprehensive social media marketing strategy. Within your overall social media strategy you should have social property specific strategies and plans.


Also see this video to get great ideas to develop your Google+ Strategy

We strongly recommend reviewing all of your client's online presence to assess their social media footprint. There's no time like the present to build your brand with social media.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Penguin 2.0 - Google SEO in 2013

Google Penguin 2.0

Published on by: James H. Hobson

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SEO for Google - What To Expect in 2013

Matt Cutts has just released a video that presents information on the soon to be released Penguin 2.0 algorithm change in 2013. The bottom line is that it is intended to be a more comprehensive and deeper yet more refined assault on balck-hat web spam. In listening to what Matt says it is clear that Google's engineers have put deep thought into how to minimize ranking damage to innocent small business sites while fighting uber-spammers. This sounds like it may be an algorithm change that knocks the breath out of those practitioners that are blatantly using black-hat SEO. Watch the video and please continue reading for thoughts on Panda 2.0 and what it means for SEO clients.

What Should You Do?

The bottom line continues to be create websites with useful and valuable content for users. Activity signala, actions and metrics that indicate users revisit, share or otherwise seem to enjoy your site content make your site more attractive to Google.

Advertorials Are Bad

Advertorials are articles which are styled like an editorial or news piece but are actually paid advertisements. (Think of the late night infomercials on television.) Penguin 2 is geared to deliver stronger enforcement of spam penalties against native advertising and advertorials. If you do use advertorials you should make certain to include statements or call-outs that clearly indicate the content is paid advertising. Google is definitely targeting this sleazy approach to internet marketing.

Fiding Ways To Go Upstream

Penguin 2 is also designed to use more sophisticated link analysis and ultimately deny value to link spammers. Personally I think this is fantastic because without it the rewards go to the spammers, and it encourages otherwise white-hat SEO's to go to the dark side in order to help their clients. Changes like this add bite to the talk about black-hat SEO penalties. This will demonstrate to SEO clients that a under-performing small busines SEO company has been cheated but is now going to be your best bet for long term ranking success.

SEO Amnesty - Communicate With Webmasters

Apparently Google has heard they outcry from the multitude of small business sites that took devastating hits from the wide brush approach of Penguin 1.0. Matt Cutts spoke of Google's intentions to attempt to offer help for sites in the borders of the danger zones. By offering more specific tips and concrete examples of good practices many of these sites can better understand how to improve both site quality and resulting ranking potential.

All in all it sounds as though Google has worked harder to make certain that the next algorithm update, coming soon, is a surgical strike and one that minimizes collaterla damage. I certainly hope so because in this economy a slip in rankings can mean the loss of enough sales to kill a business. Google is more than just a search engine. Google is a vital part of what sustains a healthy business community.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

List of SEO Experts

Top 25 SEO Experts To Follow in 2013

Published on by: James H. Hobson

If you're interested in learning SEO best practices in 2013 you need to get in touch with the real SEO experts. Our list of the Top 25 SEO Experts in 2013 will enable you to find and follow online their advice and insight.

The folks on this list have great connections and often get the inside scoop long before it hits Twitter or SEO forums. With this handy list of 2013 SEO Experts you can substantially improve the information flow through your own Twitter or Google+ page with less than 30 minutes of work. It's FREE and useful so get it now!

Monday, February 18, 2013

SEO Linking in 2013

How To Correct Spam Link Problems

Published on by: James H. Hobson

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A very large number of website managers continue to ignore the best SEO tips published in 2012 by the top SEO experts. The affect in part is continued loss of organic rankings and the resulting drop in website traffic (leads!). This article is intended to help these companies identify spam link problems and provide tips on how to correct spam link problems.

Bad Link Practices in 2013

Even though you may have been the SEO king on Craigslist Google outranks you (yes, pun intended). It's critical for you to take action to improve your SEO practices. This will almost certainly improve your search engine rankings. Here's our Top 5 List of SEO Link Problems:

Sitewide Footer Links

1) The old school style was to cram that giant footer with page links which usually and obviously used anchor text created for SEO purposes. This is probably the easiest link problem to correct and it will make a difference. The problems here are that Google does not want repetitive links in the footer, Google ignores any links to a specific page after the first link it finds on your page, and using exact match anchor text is clearly the mark of spam. SOLUTION: Remove all sitewide footer links. Possible exceptions are utility links such as site map, privacy policy, etc. SUGGESTION: Do use a few outbound links to high quality sites with content that is relevant to the content of your page. We suggest making these "nofollow" links.

Article Spinning & Wheels

2) Could you be more obvious in your bad SEO? Probably not. Just like Bernie Madoff you can get away with a scam only so long. Google hires technology wizards and they are aware of the black-hat tips, tricks and articles published online. While you may think that had discovered a hidden secret Google laughed and went to work on creating ways to kill article spinning and link wheels. This is certainly a big problem for you if you used any of the "big name" link wheel services because Google has identified their sites and relationships, and then killed them off. SOLUTION: First, stop doing this. Next try to manually delete any articles you control and disassociate yourself from any sites where you have a profile with a link to your site. SUGGESTION: Consider using the Link Disavow Tool to remove links. I do recommend using this tool VERY cautiously and probably fr only the most egregious situations.

Bad Blogging & Social Bookmarking

3) Similar to article spinning is flooding "Web 2.0 Blogs" with mindless, off topic comments just to get a backlink. These are extremely time consuming, if not impossible, to remove however do what you can to eliminate these. There are many versions of what I term "bad blogging" which includes the aforementioned guest comments that are off-topic with links to sites that are unrelated, links placed on spam blogs with one article and a ton of unrelated backlinks, and of course the practice of article spinning. SOLUTION: Remove as much as you can. You may choose to report the site to Google just to get the site deindexed and take the link with it.

The first cousin to bad blogging is abusing social bookmarking sites. There are ways to auto-submit content to hundreds of social bookmarking sites. The problems are that it's hard to properly present the information in an automated manner, and it does not apper "natural" when the same content shows up on hundreds of sites at the exact time . . . especially under different user names.

Paid Links

4) This is an issue that confuses many people. You can buy "advertising" that includes a link to your site but you can't buy a "link package" to rapidly acquire mass backlinks. Yeah, I know you think you're just being time efficient but Google disagrees. The typical entity selling paid links re-uses a list of target sites which may or may not be related to your site. Irrelevant backlinks is a big red flag for spam watchers. When Google then looks at each site, identifies a massive amount of backlinks to a plethora of unrelated sites you can bet they then credit you with paid spam links. SOLUTION: Do not use paid link building services.

Internet Press Releases

5) Yep, this worked for quite awhile. Now it's just a silly game to play with Google. Certainly a paid internet press release from a highly trusted outlet, and with meaningful content, may deliver some benefit. Using low quality (free) internet press releases services is a bad idea. Using sales or marketing content presented as news is an even worse idea. I'm not saying that you can't get a press release ranked but it's lifespan is short, SEO value arguably low and it's simply not a good use of your time. SOLUTION: Use press releases only when you have some true news, and then use a paid version of a reputable PR outlet. Google knows that spammers are not going to pay $100+ just to get a link.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Best SEO Information Sources 2013

Top 10 SEO Expert Sites

Published on by: James H. Hobson

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Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has probably never been more volatile and evolving than it has been in 2012. These changes are making the field of SEO become more competitive as the top SEO companies fight to stay on top of the SEO best practices for 2013. Certainly we all have our tried-and-true tactics however we can all benefit from what the truly top SEO professionals have to say. This article presents a Top 10 List of SEO Experts for SEO tips and ideas in 2013.

#1 Matt Cutts - Google Senior Engineer

Okay, Matt Cutts has to get the top rating simply because he knows where all of the bodies are buried within Google's algorithms. Matt is the friendly face of Google that delivers the news, answers questions from the everday SEO folks, and generally serves as the point man for the development of search engine optimization algorithm improvements. (UPDATE: Matt Cutts retired from Google on 12/31/2016)

#2 - Rand Fishkin - Whiteboard Friday

Rand Fishkin, our #2 pick, is the founder and CEO of SEOmoz, which ia a software development company which serves the search engine optimization industry. Rand is a well known speaker and consultant, and has earned as place as a SEO expert. Rand, through SEOmoz, produces and publishes on YouTube weekly video tutorials branded Whiteboard Friday.

#3 Danny Sullivan - Search Engine Land

Danny Sullivan, our #3 choice for his vast knowledge, is the welll established editor-in-chief of Search Engine Land. Search Engine Land is a blog and forum about about search engines, SEM and SEO. With access to the best and brightest minds in the SEO industry Danny is very well informed, and continually proves to be thinking at the leading edge of SEO best practices and trends.

#4 Vanessa Fox -

Vanessa Fox is a leading search engine optimization writer and consultant who was a principle creator of Google Webmaster Central. If you're into SEO you should BUY HER NEW BOOK >> She serves as front line spokesperson for some Google news topics, is quite active in industry organizations and conferences, and presents some of her best work at her SEO author page on the Search Engine Land website.

#5 Jill Whalen - High Rankings

Jill Whalen is a highly respected master at search engine optimization. Ms. Whalen is the CEO of High Rankings, co-founder of Search Engine Marketing New England, and serves as a professional consultant, writer and speaker on all aspects of SEO.

#6 David Merman Scott - Online Marketing Strategist

David Merman Scott is a brilliant thinker who has written numerous books, including three international best sellers, on marketing strategies and tactics. David is often a keynote speaker and always a person whose words are received with great interest. While David's skillset is very diverse it is also highly focused where it matters the most to us, online marketing. Learn more at .

#7 Bruce Clay - Bruce Clay, Inc.

Bruce Clay is the founder and CEO of Bruce Clay, Inc. which is a world class SEO company. Bruce has worked with some of the largest corporations in the world, has driven forward some stellar SEO tactics and remains a leader in the SEO business. Barry Schwartz referred to him as "one of the older, wiser and definitely more respected individuals in the industry". Bruce has some detractors but it's hard to deny his knowledge and capabilities for delivering exceptional SEO services.

#8 Barry Schwartz - Search Engine Roundtable

Barry Schwartz is the editor-in-chief at Search Engine Roundtable, and a blogger that delivers well written and highly informative articles on SEO industry news, trends and observations. Barry sometimes bucks the system by challenging Google's moves and motivations. We feel that this gives him a really sincere and genuine perspective, which is much appreciated against the all too common corporate sell-outs.

#9 Wil Reynolds - SEERInteractive

Wil Reynolds is the founder of SEER Interactive which is a search marketing agency located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Wil is a very engaging speaker that brings not only good general information, but he shares actual tricks of the trade that the average SEO practitioner can use to help their clients. Wil is a frequently on the list of speakers at industry events. You can access some great tidbits by following Wil Reynolds on Twitter.

#10 Avinash Kaushik -

Avinash is our #6 pick, ahead of some really sharp folks, because of his knowledge and innovative visualization of search marketing concepts and practices. Avinash co-founded Market Motive, Inc. and has authored great books including Web Analytics: An Hour A Day and Web Analytics 2.0. With a background in data analytics and active participation in the SEO community he is a very good resource for ideas on how to study the mechanics of web use to improve SEO tactics.

Feel free to leave non-spam comments that include your favorite SEO experts.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Google Analytics 2013

Google To Restrict Referral Data

Published on by: James H. Hobson

Google has implemented changes to Google Analytics that are presented as "protecting user privacy" however these changes will present a challenge for SEO companies that rely on Google Analytics data to influence SEO work. This article discusses the changes, and the real and perceived implications for users.

Google Analytics Changes

Why Google Is Changing Analytics

Every change has (or should have) a logical reason, right? In the case of recent changes to Google Analytics referral data the public statements discuss protecting Google user privacy. This sounds noble but I have to ask, "protect privacy from who or what?" and "why don't the words match the actions?".

Words and Actions Don't Match

Within Analytics there has been what is called "referral data" which shows search phrases used to arrive at your site, sites from which users came, etc. The new changes mean that Analytics will not show granular detail for users who are logged in to their Google account - thus the conflict between words and actions.

If a user is logged in, Google can most certainly, and will, record search queries and other user specific data. Excluding the user information from Analytics means that SEO practitioners and site owners are stripped of information relative to their site . . . although Google has the user data. The bottom line is that the user privacy protection is somewhat misleading because Google now has MORE and very specific information about a user - so much for privacy.

Motivations To Restrict Referral Data

If Google retains data that has true marketing value then they have information that can be bundled and sold to internet marketing agencies and advertising companies. By promoting the user privacy protection spin it will most likely drive an increase in the number of people who log in to their Google+ account to search. In the end this means that more people login, Google gets specific user data and can monetize the information, or perhaps serve as a willing servant to any part of the government that wants data on an individual. Needless to say, this really does not protect the user, and you have to ask if referral data ever presented a real issue for users.

The Mechanics of Analytics Changes

If a user is logged in to their Google account any organic search and click will be reflected within Analytics as "not provided". If you click on an Adwords ad the data will be shown in Analytics. If you are not logged in the data will be shown in Analytics in the manner that we have always seen. The estimation of SEO gurus is that this change will cut Analytics data by less than 10%, however it has not been stated as to how this figure was determined.

Rand Fishkin's Whiteboard Friday Discussion

How To Compensate For Data Loss

Rand Fishkin offers some excellent methods to counter the loss of invaluable data in the video we have posted here. In addition to what Rand offers we think that there is a now increased value of the historical data that you have on file. Certainly some statistical averaging can help to feather out some edges. If you are venturing into new areas it may be worth running Adwords campaigns in order to get data that can supplement what remains withing Analytics.

While this change is probably not earth shattering, it is worth considering that knowledge is power and some power is being taken away. We encourage you to leave comments and ideas on your thoughts about the loss of Analytics referral data.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Atlanta SEO Companies 2013

Is Your SEO Company Safe?

Published on by: James H. Hobson

Your SEO company is probably a major contributor in generating leads for your business. If your SEO company disappeared what would you do? The business environment in 2012 has been quite volatile and 2013 looks like it will be the same or perhaps worse. This means that a lot of SEO companies, like other businesses, are struggling to survive.

As in any major market, in Atlanta, there are a handful of truly competent SEO companies. The past few months we have noticed many SEO companies are using PPC advertising to solicit new business. This may be a signal that these companies are bleeding financially and having to go beyond their own skill (SEO) to stay afloat. My personal belief is that any SEO company that uses PPC to offset poor organic rankings is screaming that they are in dire straits. This should be a red flag for their clients. Again, what would you do if your SEO company went out of business?

Does a good and stable SEO company REALLY need to use PPC advertising for their most important terms? If they are using PPC advertising services to solicit SEO clients you need to ask "why?". Do they know how to get business or not? Are they desperate?

Finding Security in the SEO World

Evaluate Your SEO Company

Because you run a business you can take a look at a business and make a read on their health. We are in an economy where finding new business is not alwyas easy, retaining clients can be tough and expenses need to be held to a minimum. If your SEO company is in high rent office space, has a bloated and overpaid staff, and spends too much on frivolous expenditures they are ripe for failure. In this day and age a very conservative structure means lean and in control, whereas living the high life conveys more risk than success. How do you see your SEO company?

Who Are Their Clients?

Is your SEO comapny going to be the next business to collapse?
As a business owner you understand the critical nature of both cash flow and profit. If your SEO company has a few large companies that represent a significant part of their monthly income they could be devastated if the average age of their receivables on their large accounts goes from 17 days to 90 days. What is the health of their client base? You might be interested in knowing the average days of their receivables. How much do you know about their financial stability?

Did you know that the SEO, website design and internet marketing industry has a particularly high rate of non-pay and charge backs? It's a fact and THE reason that most companies in this industry have only PayPal to process credit cards. If your internet marketing company cannot accept credit card payments they probably are unable to prove financial stability to their bank or a credit card processor.

Where Are You In The Pecking Order?

If you are a B2B or industrial company you can appreciate the value of your national accounts and major accounts. Most companies dedicate their best people and strongest resources to supporting their "bread-and-butter" accounts.

So what happens during financial hardships? A business in decline begins to layoff people and cut expenses, right? This means that whatever personnel or material resources that remain are typically applied in majority to support the major accounts (big money). If your SEO company is struggling you need to think about where your company sits in the priority scheduling. Is your company going to be silently ignored as your SEO company struggles to stay afloat? Are you just a monthly payment or a valued client?

Develop A Backup SEO Company

In uncertain times you may need to develop alternative sources for everything - from professional services to the raw or finished products you need. When it comes to SEO services it is much easier to bring on a back-up vendor and quietly engage their services. If you choose a good alternate supplier, the worst thing that can happen is your online marketing results improve. If your primary SEO company should falter you can make a near seamless conversion and maintain your progress in developing a stronger search engine presence.

In all honesty, I'm sharing with you what I have learned from over 30 years of business experience. When times are good it's easy to laugh, go out for drinks and enjoy your business. When times get tough you need to be far more diligent in protecting your business. This means knowing that the vendors that support your business are stable and committed to providing you a high level of service - exactly what you need you make it through these tough times. So how well do you know your present SEO provider?