Saturday, May 31, 2014

SEO News Round-Up: Algorithm Updates, eBay's Big Loss, and Layoffs at MetaFilter

Google recently launched two algorithm updates, including a new version of the Panda algorithm: Panda 4.0. Google tweaks its algorithms daily without any sort of notice, but these latest updates seem to be significant enough to warrant announcements--or at least tweets from Matt Cutts, the head of the Webspam Team at Google. 

Changes to the algorithm effect search in many ways, but this recent Panda update, especially, has had a significant effect on some sites. As Peter J Meyers reported in Moz, eBay has taken a big hit, falling out of what Moz calls the "Big 10"--the site's "metric of the ten domains with the most 'real estate' in the top 10":

"Over the course of about three days, eBay fell from #6 in our Big 10 to #25," Meyers writes. "Change is the norm for Google's SERPs, but this particular change is clearly out of place, historically speaking. eBay has been #6 in our Big 10 since March 1st, and prior to that primarily competed with Twitter.com for either the #6 or #7 place. The drop to #25 is very large."

For an in-depth view of how the algorithm updates influence rankings, even for major sites, we recommend reading Meyer's article in Moz.

You might also read WebProNews recent article about MetaFilter, another site that seems to have been "hit" by algorithm updates:

"Sites fall victim to Google’s algorithms all the time, but this week, one in particular is getting a great deal of attention. MetaFilter, which was a popular web destination years ago (it claims to have still had over 80 million readers last year), was hit by a Google update (possibly Panda, but it’s unclear) a year and a half ago, and has been unable to recover"

MetaFilter has been in the news on the heels of a post from its founder describing its sudden downturn--and need for layoffs. A few writers have spoken glowingly of the site's usefulness, bemoaning the unfortunate downturn, yet, as the WebProNews article explains, few experts have been willing to say, precisely, why the algorithm changes have harmed the site so much. Inorganic links, perhaps?

Nevertheless, Chris Crum, writing for WebProNews, offers an intriguing speculation:

"If it weren’t for the whole inorganic links thing, I’d wonder if it had anything to do with the overall appearance of the site. The site has been around for a long time, and frankly it looks like a site that came out a long time ago. That’s not a knock. Just a fact (okay, an opinion, I guess)."

We happen to agree with Crum. The appearance of a site obviously influences a browser's perception of the content, and if a site does not evolve over many years, the template may begin to look "stale." As Crum notes, Matt Cutts essentially said this in his Webmaster Comments a while ago:



As Cutts notes in this video:

“The advice that I’d give to you as the owner of a site that’s been around for fourteen years is to take a fresh look at your site. A lot of times if you land on your site, and you land on a random website from a search result, you know, even if they’ve been in business for fifteen years, fourteen years, sometimes they haven’t updated their template or their page layout or anything in years and years and years, and it looks, frankly, like sort of a stale sort of an older site, and that’s the sort of thing where users might not be as happy about that.”

The implications of Cutt's comments as well as the recent news about eBay offers fair warning to all website owners: "To Compete You Must Evolve."

This recent news, especially, speaks to the importance of website design. What does your website look like? Have you updated the look and feel of the website recently--or ever?

If your site looks like the equivalent of Pong, you might consider a new design.

 Why is design so important? As we've written before:

"Website design covers the “front-of-the-house” appearance and usability of a website. In order to make sure your website can be optimized, you should choose a website designer who can not only build a beautiful website, but one that is very easy to navigate. The easy-to-navigate element is an example of a crucial design element.

Many designers can build beautiful websites, but...a beautiful website is pointless unless it can actually attract visitors. Of course, your visitors will appreciate the fact that your website is easy to navigate, but more importantly, perhaps, search engines like Google pay special attention to design elements like ease of navigation when ranking websites."

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Does your website look like Pong? Has your website's performance recently taken a hit? Perhaps its the new algorithms. Our blog's sponsor, Stepmans PC, can answer these questions for you! Just take advantage of this limited time offer: For a limited time, Stepmans PC will perform a FREE Organic Website Optimization Audit* for the first ten people to take advantage of the offer (details here).

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Think Global: SEO & Worldwide Advertising

Organic SEO is an intuitive and inexpensive form of advertising that can increase sales while reducing operating costs. The prime advantage of the practice is its efficiency: SEO gives you more control over precisely how people discover your product or service. The key, of course, is connecting your product or service with the right customer.

Many website owners wish to connect to customers in a specific area. A local hair salon, for example, is best optimized for local towns. With an optimized website, a local restaurant can trump the local competition. In the past, hair salons and restaurants relied on newspaper or magazine ads to attract attention. Today, however, the Internet is the best venue for advertising a local business.

However, the true advantage of promoting your product of service online is the global nature of the Internet. If you have the capability to sell globally, the simple addition of a well-optimized website can dramatically increase your customer base.

And even if you operate locally, it's a good idea to think globally. With website optimization, you can advertise a new product or service around the world instantly.

In the past, the barriers to global marketing seemed insurmountable; and even in the Internet age, questions of shipping and logistics have stymied many businesses. And yet, today more then ever, these barriers seem to be crumbling.

With the recent purchase of Quest Visual, which makes the nifty translation app, Word Lens, Google has seemingly set its sights on tackling perhaps the biggest barrier to global marketing: language.

The Word Lens app, available now on Android and iOS phones as well as Google Glass, translates printed words with a device's camera. Users simply point the device at some foreign text, say on a map or menu, and the app translates the text instantly.

The writer, Gary Shteyngart, explored Google Glass for the New Yorker

World Lens is fast and accurate. We hope that Google can quickly integrate the technology into its existing Google Translate--already available to any Google user.

So what does this mean for your website? Google Translate is not the best translation app, yet the purchase of Word Lens seems to portend great things for those who wish to participate in the global marketplace. In the near-future, you will hopefully be able to reach a great majority of the global marketplace with a simple, streamlined, and well-optimized web site that can be easily translated, word for word, into any language by Google itself.

In the meantime, however, if you wish to get a jump on the competition, you would do well to offer several languages on your website. The Organic SEO Blog's sponsor, Stepmans PC, routinely creates websites in multiple languages, including English, Russian, and Ukrainian, to name a few.

Any good website development firm should be able to translate your site into multiple languages. The best firms, like Stepmans PC, employ professional copywriters to create unique language-specific text. Yet, any website development firm should offer the option of a translated website. After all, Google itself offers this ability with Google Translate. Even a simply-translated site can prove beneficial.

Do you sell a global product? If so, how to promote the product to different countries and languages?

Sunday, May 18, 2014

FREE Website Audit From Stepmans PC

The Organic SEO blog is supported financially and intellectually by a sole sponsor: Alex Stepman of the dynamic Internet marketing company, Stepmans PC.

Utilizing a variety of proven and effective marketing techniques, Stepmans PC promotes websites across the Internet. Their specialty is natural website optimization, a powerful tool that can place your website on the first page of major search engine results. Alex offers one-on-one attention to each customer—and guarantees 100% satisfaction.

Today, we wanted to thank Alex for his support and to tell you about a special summertime offer: For a limited time, Stepmans PC will perform a FREE Organic Website Optimization Audit* for the first ten people to take advantage of the offer (details below).

Are you ready to knock out the competition? Read below...

FREE Organic Website Optimization Audit

The first step to a successful online campaign is a careful analysis of your website’s current performance. Most website owners simply do not understand how search engines view their sites. If you're new to SEO, we suggest reading this series first:

1. Website Design
2. Website Development
3. Content Creation
4. Conversion

So, what do you know?

Some websites violate Organic SEO guidelines. And some website owners are surprised to learn that Google, Yahoo, and Bing consider their site spam!

If your website is under-performing, Stepmans PC’s Organic Website Optimization Audit will clarify the exact elements of your website that require improvement.

As apart of the audit, Stepmans PC will provide a detailed report showing you how many people have visited your website for a specific period of time, how many of those visitors are unique, the time visitors spent on your website, and other information that will help you convert visitors into potential customers.

With this information and more, you learn your website visitors in depth. Stepmans PC will monitor visitor’s activity on your website for a period of days and present as much information as possible about their engagement with your website.

In addition to knowing all about your customers, you will discover the most popular pages on your website. Stepmans PC can help you place special promotions on these particular pages—a great tactic for transforming visitors into customers.

Stepmans PC will also determine what device is being used to interact with your website and will optimize your website for those devices to insure no one is limited from viewing your website.

You do know about mobile SEO, right? If not, please read: "Don't Lose Sales: Optimize Your Website for Mobile Search Now!"

To take advantage of this limited time offer, call Stepmans PC now: 215-900-9398 or complete the form on Stepmans PC's website.

But hurry, Alex and his team are very busy. Stepmans PC can only offer a FREE audit to ten websites. If you want to knock out your competition this summer, we suggest calling now!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

SEO 101: To Compete, You Must Evolve

Does your SEO specialist speak exclusively about keywords? If so, he/she might not be serving your best interests. It should be an SEO specialist's duty to evolve with the times. Unfortunately, too many so-called "specialists" are working in outdated paradigms. Do not make this mistake: to compete, you must evolve.

For years, the strategic use of keywords has been a central SEO practice. On this very blog, we've written about how keywords can help you clarify your business offering, and how the ever-prevalent hashtag is essentially a key SEO strategy based on keywords.

And yet, the nature of search is changing. Keywords might still be an important element of an SEO campaign, but true organic SEO is evolving to match the changing nature of search.

This change is reflected, most obviously, in Google's most recent algorithm. In this new algorithm, the importance of keywords has been minimized in favor of more specifically informative phrases and sentences. In this way, Google is acknowledging not only the changing nature of search but the importance of mobile search--a venue that is more likely to see longer search inquiries.

Instead of searching for "denim", for example, a savvy (and stylish) mobile user is more likely to compose a more specific, and perhaps more esoteric search, like "raw sanforized denim."

Even then, Google's new algorithm is evolving to meet even more complex searches. Instead of specific phrases, many users (mobile and traditional alike) are asking specific questions; instead of searching "raw sanforized denim," for example, many users today are simply asking Google, "Where can I find the best raw sanforized denim?"

By paying attention to the unique specificity of your product or service, you can dramatically improve your visibility on Google. Instead of thinking about keywords, however, think about questions. What question(s) does your product or service answer? Once you've answered these questions (for yourself), you can begin to compose your answers.

An example: 

A client of Stepmans PC, Ultrarev, sells performance automotive parts, a highly competitive industry with many websites vying for the attention of buyers. In an attempt to attract more Google visibility, Stepmans PC has urges Ultrarev's copywriters to compose text to answer specific questions about automotive parts.

Now, Ultrarev might not be able to compete with the huge auto parts sellers based on keywords alone. If you perform a Google search for "weapon r intake," for example, the top results are dominated by big names (and paid ads).

And yet, the first page offers a clue about how Ultrarev might compete with the big names: the results are also full of tutorials about weapon r intakes.

In other words, people are seeking weapon r intake guidance. To meet this demand, Stepmans PC cleverly advised Ultrarev's copywriter to compose text to answer a simple question: "How much horsepower does a weapon r intake add?"

If you ask Google this question, Ultrarev appears on the first page results.

This is the value of working with a organic SEO specialist, like Alex Stepman of Stepmans PC, who understands the evolving nature of search. We're proud to have Alex sponsor our blog: his guiding intelligence has set this blog's tone. We hope to be informative and up-to-date, just like Alex.

So make sure you're SEO specialist is up-to-date. If not, we suggest calling Alex now: 215-900-9398. Learn about what you might be missing.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

SEO 101: Three Simple Tips for An Effectice Social Media Campaign

The recent social media failure of the NYPD seemed to offer a cautionary tale for brands who hope to profit from Twitter. And yet, despite the backlash, the New York Times reports that the NYPD plans to expand its social media efforts. The police commissioner, William Bratton, announced that:

"New recruits would be better trained in community relations; that the police would be more 'collaborative,' an oft-heard new buzzword; and, as he told a closed-door meeting of chiefs and supervisors in January, that his administration would use social media to bring positive police stories directly to the public."

What the NYPD, and many other brands (like McDonald's), fail to realize, is that social media users do not want to be fed a line. Both brands tried to tell followers to tweet great stories about the brand. And both brands failed because they misunderstood the nature of "social networking."

Asking an audience to market your brand, as both the NYPD and McDonald's attempted to do, implies a complete misunderstanding of social media mores. People do not want to be talked to. Twitter is a conversation.  Unless a brand can engage with its audience on a personal level, its social media "campaign" will inevitably fail.

Thankfully, these failures can be instructive to businesses and organizations who hope to profit from social media. Twitter and Facebook can be a key element of search engine optimization. By crafting a thoughtful social media identity, you can increase your brand's presence across the Internet.

Obviously, a profitable social media campaign must pay attention to many elements. Below we've simply listed three--albeit three crucial social media tips for SEO-savvy brands.

1. Know Thyself 

The ancient Greek aphorism is true for all people who wish to create a positive social media impact. Before you you know your audience (see below), you must know yourself.

Believe it or not, social media is not the best SEO strategy for all brands. If you want to benefit from social media, keep in mind: "thoughtful" is truly the key word. If you do not have the time, or conscientiousness, to truly engage with your social media, then you might do better with no social media presence at all!

What? No social media presence? Indeed, we've seen far too many brand's flounder simply because they've mistakenly believed that all brands must have a social media presence. If you don't have the time, don't do it. If you do not stay current with your pages, your image will suffer online. Worse, if you do not engage with your followers (a day-to-day task), you risk alienating potential customers.

2. Know Your Audience

Before using any social media, try to understand the dynamics of the audience. Twitter is an expansive, yet unique, community: of all social media platforms, for example, Twitter is by far the most activist community. The NYPD failed to acknowledge this simple fact. Assuming that the Twitter population would cherish the opportunity to tell great stories about a notoriously racist police force, the NYPD instead opened the door for a public relations nightmare.

The NYPD's decision-making implies colossal ineptitude. Do not fall into this trap. Try to understand the network audience before you begin any social media campaign.

Then, once you attract followers, try to understand your unique audience. Why do you believe you attracted followers? Perhaps you've marketed yourself to a unique group. Perhaps you've crafted some engaging tweets. Whatever the case, learn about your audience, and speak to your audience..

3. Speak to Your Audience Like Friends

As we noted above, Twitter is a conversation. Twitter users do not want to talked to. The same is true for every social media platform. People are attracted to social media because it promises the potential of engagement. The best brands understand that customers can be friends, too.

That's right, treat your customers as if they were your good friends. That means that you must respond to all inquiries with sincerity and timeliness. Talk to your "followers"--and don't treat them like followers; treat them like friends.

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It's no secret that social media is a mobile game! For the month of May, Stepmans PC is offering a valuable introductory:

If you sell a high-quality product that deserves customers you also deserve a well-optimized mobile website. Do not let the changing search landscape compromise your sales. Now, more than ever, you need to astute wisdom of a professional search engine optimization professional.

From now until May 1, our sponsor, Stepmans PC, is offering a free mobile website audit. Contact Stepmans PC today to learn how you can improve your website's mobile performance: 215-900-9398.