Domain Stuffing on Google Results

You may not have heard of domain stuffing, but you’ve probably seen it in action. Sometime recently, when Google made one, or many, algorithm changes, search results have started to show more and more just a few content providers as the top results. I’ve experienced this doing searches for SEO clients and personally for various, random searches. I’m attaching the results for a search query which is near and dear to my heart: ‘wood railing‘.

Domain Stuffing
Domain Stuffing

Take a look at this image and the problem is clear: too many results from the same domain above the fold. No, this is not just something that’s happening on pages 2 and 3 of the SERPs. The first result is Google Shopping. And while I’m not going to get into a long rant on it right now, I understand that Google has built its empire on search ad revenue and I’m alright with it. But how are three of the same products from one domain relevant and helpful to searchers? And fine, if you want to promote your advertisers, I understand. ((Disclosure: I run AdWords AND AdSense)) But why also the #1 organic? Does this mean that paid ads on Shopping help with organic SEO? If so, does this not fly in the face of the spam team saying that paid links are bad and even going out of their way to penalize paid links? So, if I buy and ad on any other site, it’s bad for my organic SEO, but if I buy ads on Adwords/Shopping, then that’s good for SEO? This is clearly a double standard and another way that Google has cultivated black hat SEO.

The numbers 2 and 3 organic results are from Houzz. As the link shows, I have a presence on Houzz and, disclosure 2: guess what? I also advertise on Houzz, and I have been extremely pleased with the results. But surely, one link to Houzz would be a sufficient and strong presence all across the search results, not confined to this specific query. 

(Incidentally, if you’re in a market that is any way, shape or form, related to the housing industry, I STRONGLY recommend that you build a presence on Houzz. Google, as shown, seems to love the site right now. Additionally, and perhaps more importantly, there is a strong community of architecture and design professionals using the site to showcase and share their work. There are question and answer sessions and plenty of interaction.)

So, above the fold on the first page of results for this particular query, searchers are basically offered two choices. This is not what made Google top of the search engines in 1998. This results are neither relevant nor useful and do not provide a meaningful amount of information.

In conclusion, it would be nice to see the spam team take notice of some of the real problems that are being generated by their actions and algorithm changes. I understand that every change has unforeseen circumstances, but this issue of domain stuffing needs to be addressed.

Google and Data – Share and Share Alike

Hello Google, Magician of Information,

This is yet another open-ended letter to litter the web detailing your parsimonious ways.

You want all my data, all my info, where I go, who I Facebook, what I Tweet, what my Klout score is, what sites I’ve visited, how long, how many pages, what site I went to next, my cookie trail is a snail trail of slime on the web.

But Google will not give any data back.

Sure, Google took away keyword info on searchers who are logged into a Google account while browsing and returned this data as (not provided) although you can jump through a flaming hoop to recover this data. (These are the top two results “not provided”. Crazy.)

Please share this data with your users. We are the people who make your business possible.

Really, though, I’d just like to know my numbers.

Where am I in the race?
What’s my position?
First, Third, Eightieth?
Last?

A real number made up by Google.
Yes, I know that there are different data centers that return different results.
But, come on, you know what numbers I want.

Should people have to pay other people to run searches for terms they know that neither they themselves nor their acquaintances? And not even anyone that lives in the same area.

What’s my rank for my keywords which I’m trying so hard to write quality content for and comply with some abstruse and always-changing guidelines?

 

Please Google, let the rank tracking software work.

Information wants to be free.

 

WordPress Image SEO

Wordpress Image SEO Instructions
Wordpress Image SEO Instructions

Image SEO has been a task of mine for a while and I started working on it a while back. Recently, I was working on my site as part of a bid to remove NextGen Gallery plugin. Nothing against the plugin or its functionality, but I’ve recently discovered that NGG does nothing for your image SEO. Sure, you’ve been uploading images to albums and giving them alt text, captions and descriptions that are keyword optimized. But, the problem is that NextGen Gallery stores all these files in a directory that is hidden by wordpress, the /gallery/ directory. The folder that is your public image library is the /uploads/ directory. Problem #1

Problem #2 is that it’s slow. Sure, shadow boxes and slideshows and rotating pictures are great. They’re flashy; they get attention. But they’re slowing down your site’s load time. Yup, I verified it. No random images in the sidebar from the NGG Widget plugin slowed it down.

Solution #1: Use the awesome gallery functionality in WordPress. Here’s the method I used.

First, I made a pictures page and uploaded all my images to it and displayed them as a gallery. But, this didn’t work like I had hoped. For some reason, WordPress put all the new pictures in the /uploads/2011/07/ directory instead of in the current month’s. So, I realized that if I really wanted some wordpress image SEO, the best method would be to create all new posts about, for example, deck railing ideas, and upload pictures on a job by job basis. So I’m writing a bunch of new keyword optimized posts and including my keyword optimized pictures. Then, on the Pictures page, I’m using the shortcode to display these images. I’m also going back and deleting the images associated with my previous work. This is to avoid duplicate content issues.

rhododendron flower
Beautiful picture for Image SEO

In the course of this I discovered a plugin to add a little more oomph to your search engine optimization efforts. Google XML Sitemap for Images creates an .xml sitemap. You have to make sure to go to your Google webmaster tools and submit the sitemap manually.

My site was loading faster since I didn’t have three or four NGG javascripts running on each page. Using the image sitemap, I doubled the number of pictures in Google’s index. I had found a way to use WordPress for image seo. But I was still sad. It still wasn’t good enough because I had lost my five random pictures in the sidebar. How could I get my random images back?

The answer is a simple php script by Matt Mullenweg. The instructions for using the random image script are easy to follow. My only addition was that I wanted the pictures to be links so I added the link code like this: <a href=”http://yoursite.com/”><img src=”/dropbox/2003/rotate/rotate.php” alt=”A Random Image” /></a>

Hopefully, these instructions help you to better understand WordPress Image SEO. Let me know what you think in the comments!

**EDIT** I forgot to include some of the other imaging tools that I use. The easiest to use bulk photo resizer that I’ve found is FotoSizer. The other tool that I use for bulk watermarking, size reduction and other image modification is Fast Stone Photo Resizer

Internet Marketing, SEO and WordPress Training

I’m excited to announce that I’ve partnered with DIY Tech Geek and will be offering training sessions soon. The main theme for the first four classes I’ve proposed will cover WordPress and Search Engine Optimization:

1–Setting up Your WordPress Site for SEO
Learn the basics of setting up a WordPress site for SEO. Install basic plugins and learn about their features. Learn about basic site architecture and how to set up a site to rank well. Learn about basic formatting for posts, including some basic html. Change your WordPress Settings for SEO and leave the class with a basic understanding of how a search engine works.

2–Keyword Research and Writing for SEO
Learn how to identify what terms people are using to find your business. Learn how to write a keyword optimized post including title, headings, copy, page title and meta-description. Learn how to work with pictures: resize, watermark, upload, and keyword optimize. Practice writing a keyword optimized post including a picture and receive specific recommendations.

3–Internet Marketing: Promoting your Optimized Site
Review basic social media strategies, including setting up branded pages and profiles. Link-building: what is it and is it important? Learn basic strategies to spread the word about your site, including keyword optimizing off-site content, where to put links, and preferred times for posting content.

4–Advanced SEO
Learn advanced techniques to supercharge your WordPress Site. This class requires a strong understanding of keyword research, technical SEO, and WordPress as well as html and css editing.

Location, date and time information to be announced soon…
Let me know what you think about these classes.

Internet Marketing, SEO, and the NEW Search

After reading this article on 5 Must-Have SEO Skills and in light of all the changes to Google’s search results, I wanted to share some thoughts.

The skills mentioned in the article above are:

  • On-site SEO
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Link Building
  • Usability
  • Content Marketing

Interestingly, the only word repeated twice in the above list, something SEOs refer to as keyword density, is ‘Marketing’. And all of the above really is more than ‘Search Engine Optimization’, but instead ‘Internet Marketing’. With the advent of Facebook and Twitter, the line between Link Building and, Social Media and Content Marketing grew blurry. Does the SEO with knowledge of her keywords allow an outside copywriter to create a two sentence post, or a 160-character tweet? With her knowledge of the importance of anchor text proximity to the link? And also create a compelling call-to-action?

Since I re-entered the internet world in 2008, after a needed hiatus, and began building my green home building business’s website, it seemed pretty clear that html tricks were no longer the name of the game. Instead, the web that we live and work in has grown all the more tangled and Internet Marketing is the level that has been attained.

With personalized search, localized search, Google author profiles, image search, and now Google+, SEO has changed so much in even the past 4 years that each new change has gone further and further from Technician Tom toiling on the code, or learning the latest underhanded, keyword stuffed trick, to a How-Can-I-Help-You Harry model of online customer service.

Leave a comment with your thoughts about the current events and changes in SEO, Internet Marketing, Social Media and Search!

NC SEO Reveals Search Engine Optimization Tricks

Franklin, NC — A small business can use SEO help. I should know since I regularly help local companies get online and increase their online presence. It so important to develop a strong internet marketing strategy and present content to people in a way that’s accessible to them. With that in mind, I’m constantly working on learning SEO tricks and tidbits to trample the competition. Recently, I came across one of the best SEO blogs ever and this RI SEO Study which I am sure is going to make a huge difference in my rankings for outdoor railings and other key phrases.

Since there is so much of value in the SEO article, I’m not going to rehash the whole lot here. Basically, you’ll learn step by step how to super charge your on page optimization. Keyword Research, Choosing Keywords to Target, Writing Optimized Title, Descriptions and HTML Tags, Determining Keyword Frequency, and Link Building are covered with precise details and seo tools to use.

When I found this lesson, it was in the top 5 two weeks after being originally published. It is also probable that this is a method of ranking fast and ranking sustainably. This is all quality content and it provides a reader with the desired information. One thing that seemed left unsaid is the clear importance of being verbose. Write a little bit longer than you normally would if you were teaching seo to a friend since it allows you more chances to present your keywords. Note that it’s also important to use strong sentences that are not written in the passive tense, that is words ending in ‘ing’. And it’s also not an excuse to ramble on about nothing. When I teach business Seo in NC, I keep it straight and to the point.

 

Cheers to Ted Ives!

Mobile Web and Your Site: SEO and Design

How much traffic do you think your site gets from mobile users? Is your site optimized for mobile usage? Not just SEO but also from a design perspective; is your site mobile friendly?

Surely, you’ve heard some talk of how mobile usage is increasing and you’d better be ready. Well, I’m going to share with you today the truth behind this.

The image below shows my mobile analytics for my site on Outdoor Railings. This data is for July 1 2011 through January 13 2012: six months. 842 visits from mobile devices to my site in six months. Over all 842 visitors, they averaged more than two minutes and two pages on the site, a virtual lifetime in our attention-distraught world. iPad users are at the top of this list followed by iPhone users. In fact, these two Apple products drove two/thirds of the traffic.

So maybe the question should be:
Is your site ready for Apple?

how has mobile affected traffic
Screenshot of Six Months Mobile Traffic

 

Google Starts 2012 with a PLUS+

If you’re engaged in any kind of internet marketing. If you are selling a product on the internet. If you use a website to generate leads. If you are a small local business using local listings to stand out. Heck, if you ever, at any point your life, have, will or might use the internet, PAY ATTENTION!

Google has rolled out personalized search.
Really, really personal search.
Not just based on your location,
But based on anything even remotely related to your friends’ friends’ friends.

See this article on Search Engine Land for the best analysis.

If you have a business, you need a Google+ account

googles new personal search
Google Introduces Personalized Search

Find Converting Keywords with Google Analytics New Version

Here is a handy feature for SEO and keyword optimization available on the Dashboard of the new version of Google Analytics.

My only gripe with the new version is that I can’t view the broad stats for all of my sites as I could on the old version. On the old version, you can see traffic, time on site, etc on all sites linked to your account. So now I go to the old version to review all of my sites’ performance and then switch to the new version to review each individually.  =FAIL   Hello Google Analytics Dev Team, Please consider returning this feature.

Enough with the gripe and on to the Good!

I just tweaked the “Conversion Rate by Source” widget on the Dashboard of the new version. Click on the gear and then click on the top green box labeled conversion. Scroll down and select “keyword”. Now you can see what keywords are turning into goal completions and a conversion percentage.

You could choose to change the lower green box to “keyword” as well and filter out the (not set) and (not provided) results. I prefer to see this data especially in light of keyword data being hidden.

Let me know if this is useful to you in the comments below.

And please share any handy SEO tricks for Google Analytics.

SEO keyword optimization
Find your converting keywords

Facebook Community Pages

I’ve been advising business owners recently to be careful about Facebook Community Pages. These are Pages that Facebook creates from content scraped from the web. Business owners are unable to do anything about Community Pages except monitor them. I guess Facebook is the only admin.

I wasn’t aware of how far out of hand Community Pages had gotten until just a few moments ago when I found this, the “Edit Likes” Community Page which is showing up #3 on Google for “edit likes on facebook”. Crazy.

facebook community pages
Facebook's Community Pages have gone a bit too far...

 

Dear Facebook, Please consider revisiting the issue of Community Pages.

Thanks, Local Business Owner

 

PS – Last night’s Facebook Class was awesome! Thanks to everyone who came and hopefully you learned a lot! See you at the next class in the SEO series: Internet Marketing 101: Keyword Research. Thursday, July 28, 5:30-7 at Town Hall in Franklin NC. FREE!!!