Archive for the ‘Search Engine Optimization’ Category

Optimization of Search Engine Results in Bing

Thursday, June 11th, 2009 |

I’ve played around with Bing over the last few days to see what it offers. Most of my evaluation has been of the results page from the user’s point of view.

  • Are the results I’m getting relevant?
  • How would I use the tools on the left side (“refined” results, Related Searches, Search History, etc)?
  • How would I pick which result to click on?

As an SEO company, we know it’s important that the client’s site ranks well and that search engine users click through (more traffic + more sales = more revenue which makes our clients happy). Users only have a few pieces of information to help them decide what site to visit when they’re looking at a results page: the title (that is also the link to the page), a short description, and the URL of the page.

From what I’ve seen of the results in Bing so far, it looks like the results page is pulling the title tag and meta description, which is pretty standard. However, they’ve added a little something extra to help users decide if this is the site they want before they click. When you hover over a search result, a horizontal line with an orange dot appears on the right. Mouse over the dot and a Preview window opens. In that Preview there is copy from the page, maybe a phone number and/or email address for the site, and sometimes even 5 deep links. So where is this information coming from?

It looks as if Bing is pulling the first content on the page and the first links. This isn’t so great if you’ve put a tag line at the top or Global navigation above your more-customer friendly links. Here I did a search for “diamond engagement rings” and found MySolitaire as the #3 result. The Preview included the first content on the page (double bonus, it also contained the terms “diamond”, “engagement”, and “rings”) and the first links.

diamond-header-page

But wait, there’s more to it. A search on “Lucero CDs” gives us Amazon as the #7 result. But its Preview copy is not what appears at the top of the page (and the code). Instead, the Preview pulls information father down; it is actually a customer review.

amazon-results

In this case it looks like Bing is pulling the first “unique” content on the page since many of Amazon’s pages share the same information at the top.  And the content it pulled did not contain “Lucero” or “CDs”.  In a few other results for different searches, it seems they are pulling content near the top but not what I would’ve guessed. So it seems like  Bing is looking for copy that:

  • Is near the top of the page
  • Is unique
  • Has the keywords in it (which is like when there is no meta description and the SE pulls content from the page, that includes the keywords, for the description of the listing on the results page)

Bing is so new that I’m not suggesting your run out and change the key pages of your website to maximize what could be in the Preview window. But, if you are thinking about site optimization for Bing’s result, you might want to consider what content and links are at the top of your page and the copy around your prominent keywords for the page.

When going the extra mile pays off

Wednesday, April 8th, 2009 |

Big Oak’s Client Success

Search Engine Optimization, known as SEO, is the ability to rank a website in the top search results. That’s what we do here as an SEO Company. However there are times that clients need more than SEO, they need marketing, website functionality, and a plan to increase their ROI.

Clients either are well versed in Search Engine Optimization and need someone to do the heavy lifting, or they come with no knowledge of the subject, but know they need exposure to their websites and heard SEO is the way to go. The bottom line for most clients is an increase in profits. That’s what is measurable to their business. Increased web site visitors or traffic normally increases the bottom line or profit.

Big Oak SEO Company took on a new client in February 2009. The client had a successful brick and mortar store and ventured into the online arena. The client operates a Yahoo Store with over 300 products in a niche market. As their SEO Specialist along with our Keyword Researching Specialist we optimized their Yahoo Store for their keywords and started a link building campaign.

The net results in just over 1 month was an increase in $2,000 of sales, and a doubling of orders from the prior month. Under normal circumstances we would consider this a huge success. However the client was lacking a fundamental marketing tool for their website, namely a presence in Google Shopping.

This was beyond the scope of our SEO contract, but Google Shopping presence for this clients products would positively effect the clients ROI. After all ROI, Return on Investment is what the client is really after. Being ranked #1 for a term that doesn’t bring in sales will not benefit the client nor keep a happy customer.

It took a several hours over the course of a few days and several tweaks to establish, create and optimize a Google Base Feed for Google Shopping. (BTW this extra effort was free of charge – no extra billing.) In just 3 days after the first Google Feed went live, the Client reported their first sale from Google Shopping. I am still tweaking the feeds for Higher Google Shopping Results and the client is adding more products to the feed, but this is definitely a case where going the extra mile pays off.

In SEO it not only what you know, but who you know at times as well. Having a SEO Company that is well versed in Google Shopping, Google Adwords, Google Maps, Web Design and Web Functionality can mean the difference between Ranking and Rankings along with Increased ROI.

Clients should help their own SEO cause

Monday, February 16th, 2009 |

It occurs to me that as you get into more tactics that involve the social web, you should start leveraging the client’s staff (and possibly their customers) for assistance.

For example, what if you created a series of assignments to roll out over the life of your work with the client starting with each staff member tagging the company on delicious, then digging some page(s) on the site that they like, then creating their own lens on Squidoo.com, etc.

Providing instructions for your clients on how to do this would be part of the SEO consulting work you should be doing for your clients.

SEO is hard work and many hands make light work as my Mom used to say. Get your client’s involved and they will appreciate you efforts all the more and feel like they are part of the process and the success.

Using Logic to Prove that Directory Links are NOT Worthless

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008 |

It’s faddish these days to walk around saying, “Directory links are worthless,” or “Directory links aren’t that effective for SEO anymore.”  I don’t know where the people who seeded this myth (or the parrots who repeat it in lockstep) came from, but I know how to make them flip their opinion straight away.  By using logic.

Recently a colleague of mine was looking at a client’s backlinks in Google webmaster tools and noticed that about 20 of them were coming from a single directory submission to directory name removed to preserve its effectiveness*.  I had included about 20 tags when I did the directory submission, and Google had indexed and cached each page that was created in the directory via tagging.  The fact that Google spiders this directory often and felt it was important enough to show as 20 backlinks to a site in webmaster tools would indicate to a rational person that Google trusts this directory a great deal.

Yet there are still people who like to make the generalization that directory link building is dead. Why?  Well, the generalization seemed to begin after it became clear that Google was on a crusade to torture directories that sold links.  When Google feels like it, it will go to a random directory that sells links, knock down its PageRank, decache half its pages, and make sure it doesn’t rank for its own name.

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SEO Rockstars

Thursday, August 21st, 2008 |

When you think of basketball, you think of Michael Jordan. When you think of golf, you think of Tiger Woods. When you think of swimming, you think of Michael Phelps. These people have elevated themselves, and what they do, to the next level — they are the rockstars.

How about in SEO? Are there any SEO rockstars? If so, do these rockstars help the industry like Phelps has helped swimming?

The Trend-Setting SEO Rockstar: Aaron Wall

Aaron WallWhen you pop SEO into Google, what do you get? Some Wikipedia entries (naturally), a .org for the Sponsors for Educational Opportunity, but one of the entries that catches your eye is probably “Learn. Rank. Dominate.: SEO Book.com.” Learn, rank and dominate? Sign me up; if I put SEO in Google, I’m certainly not looking for Sponsors for Educational Opportunity — I want to learn about Search Engine Optimization!

Such is the star power of Aaron Wall. He, quite literally, wrote the book on SEO — “SEO Book,” which first debuted in 2003. He started very simply with Search-Marketing.info, but quickly learned his trade by trolling through forums, writing articles and eventually setting up his new site, SEObook.com, writing his SEO book and then tirelessly marketing it.

Wall has grown his newest site to a massive scale. He is a sought-after speaker at almost every SEM and SEO conference and everywhere he goes in the SEO world, people follow what he says.

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Reason 1,000,001 Why Quality Writing Matters

Sunday, May 11th, 2008 |

While I’ve discussed why having quality writing is important for various reasons on our SEO Copywriting Blog, the following image shows why not only is writing quality content important, but paying attention to your meta descriptions can be equally important.

While the website bullysticks.com may be ranking in the top position for the keyword “bully sticks”, their meta description “boasts” that their “prices do not compare!” Clearly not the message they meant to send to potential customers. While bullysticks.com seems to be claiming that their prices are higher than their competition, our client, Best Bully Sticks, has a meta-description that clearly states how their high quality product, low prices, and customer service make the difference.

Meta descriptions do get read so make sure your’s says something useful. Amazing how four little words can make a difference.

bully-sticks-results.png

Google appears to Change Algorithm: Using Capital Letters Creates New Keywords

Wednesday, May 7th, 2008 |

Keyword research tools may be in for another overhaul.Google’s algorithm now appears to be viewing the capitalized versions of keywords as separate from the lowercase versions.I came across this while searching for the lowercase and uppercase versions of the keyword “engagement rings.”Look at these screen shots from the 216.239.59.99 datacenter.

Screenshot of Google results with a lowercase “e” in engagement rings. Click for larger image.

Lowercase E

Screenshot of Google results with an uppercase”E” in Engagement rings. Click for larger image.

cap-e.jpg

Searching with a capital “E” gives different results than searching with all lowercase letters, and I also noticed discrepancies between lowercase and uppercase letters with that keyword at the 64.233.183.107 datacenter.

Now, look at the differences in the SERPS at the 64.233.171.107 datacenter for the lower and uppercase version of the keyword “dog tags.”The results change after the second search result.

Screenshot of Google results with a lowercase “d” in dog tags. Click for larger image.

dog tags lower

Screenshot of Google results with an uppercase “D” in Dog tags. Click for larger image.

Dog Tags upper

Assuming this isn’t a temporary glitch, the SEO landscape will undergo another transformation.If this reflects a real change in the algorithm, keyword research tools such as Wordtracker and Keyword Discovery will have to be adjusted to compensate.They currently don’t differentiate between searches with lowercase and capital letters.Since the Google search results were believed to be identical for each, they had no reason to.

We’ll have to wait for an official word from Google (if they give one), but right now this is looking at lot less like a glitch and a lot more like a real shift in the algorithm. And it would be a significant one.I would guess that people search with different forms of capitalization as often as they misspell words or use theplural form of words.But it’s just a guess, as there is no keyword research data to back that assumption up….yet.

We’ll have to keep our eyes on this one.

Wikipedia is Still Useful for SEO

Tuesday, April 29th, 2008 |

Even though Wikipedia added nofollow tags in early 2007, backlinks you manage to snag there will still help you from an SEO standpoint. Why? One simple reason: content scrapers. Wikipedia is believed to be the most heavily scraped site in the history of the Internet.

Wikipedia SEOLet’s take this example. Say you were able to secure an external link on the Wikipedia page about cats, here. Congratulations. You just snagged a dofollow link on a PR 4 page, here. Answers.com is one of the many legitimate sites that scrapes content from Wikipedia, and it’s an authority one at that. They were nice enough to keep the content they scrape from Wikipedia dofollow. So how many backlinks will you pick up in the future from that one Wikipedia link? Too many to list, provided your link stays on Wikipedia for any length of time.

If you’re paranoid that having your link appear on a black hat scraper site will hurt you from an SEO standpoint, don’t be. The odds are against that happening in this situation. Google should be able to figure out that the only reason your link was involved with a bad neighborhood was because it appeared in content scraped from Wikipedia.

The other common opinion is that if you manage to pickup an external link on a popular or semi-popular Wikipedia page, many people will see your link and naturally create backlinks to it. Wikipedia pages do tend to get loads of Google traffic. This isn’t April 2007, so Wikipedia doesn’t rank number 1 for everything anymore, but I’m sure you’ve noticed it’s still fairly popular in the Google SERPS. And by “fairly” I mean “extraordinarily.” I’m digressing, but Wikipedia is the classic example of a site who’s success was truly driven off the back of Google. In fact, I would venture to say that if it wasn’t for Google, Wikipedia never would have entered into the mainstream.

Back on topic, finding sites that scrape Wikipedia is easy. Infinitely harder is getting external links to stick on Wikipedia. Here are two methods:

  1. Fill in missing citation gaps. Wikipedia will occasionally have sentences with a “citation needed” link after them. Create content on your site that revolves around that missing citation. If its quality is high enough, Wikipedia may let that pass as the citation.
  2. Manufacture a Wikipedia page that has high relevancy to an existing page. Link to that new page from an existing Wikipedia page. Add an external link to the new page as a reference. This has a higher probability of sticking since the page is fresh and needs sources.

Don’t let the fact that Wikipedia added nofollow tags stop you from using it in your link building endeavors.

Size Doesn’t Matter – Why the Little Guy CAN Beat the Big Guy in the SEO Arena

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008 |

When it comes to SEO, many small to medium players can get discouraged by the bigger players. They have more resources, so why should the smaller businesses even put forth the effort with SEO? Simple – because they can actually compete with the larger companies. Here’s why.

Brand Recognition

One thing to remember is that the big guys have resources, but because of that they often focus on the more traditional avenues for gaining traffic to their sites and stores. Take the diamond engagement ring business for instance. While any number of us can probably name a dozen national chains off the top of our heads (DeBeers, Zales, Kay Jewelers, and Jared to name a few), not a single one of them shows up in the top 50 for the term “diamond engagement rings”. In fact, only Kay is in the top 100 and Jared isn’t in the top 500. Why? Because they don’t have to be thanks to brand recognition. How does this help you?

Because they rely so much on brand recognition, most of your larger companies never bother to engage in SEO. For example, the #5 result for “diamond engagement rings” is Danforth Diamond, who’s home page title has the words “diamond engagement rings” in it, where as Jared and Zales both have only their company name in the title. Probably why Danforth Diamond is ranked #5 and Jared and Zales are both outside the top 50.

Red Tape

When it comes to writing copy for your website, you usually have one, maybe two writers, and yourself to answer to. When a big corporation decides to write copy for their website, they have to have one of their writers come up with copy that is SEO friendly, then that copy has to be worked over by the marketing people to make sure it works with the brand message, then it has to go to the legal department to make sure that they aren’t making any claims that can’t be substantiated, then it can go back to the writers for more edits, then back to…well I think you get the picture.

Smaller companies have the advantage of not having to deal with the same red tape that larger corporations do when deciding to make changes to their website. While you only answer to yourself, larger companies have to answer to their CEO’s, board of advisors, stockholders, and anybody else that has a corner office with a view.

Site Maintenance

SEO takes work, especially on your website. Between changing titles, adding products, adding content, installing a shopping cart, there’s a lot going on with your website. While smaller companies can handle having systems that are SEO friendly and perhaps take a little longer to make changes on, larger companies need changes made over night, and that typically means a content management system (CMS) that is less than SEO friendly.

Because the larger companies use CMS that aren’t SEO friendly, many of them don’t bother engaging in SEO and instead rely on brand awareness (which I mentioned earlier) to help drive traffic to their sites. Going hand in hand with this is the fact that since the larger companies don’t engage in SEO, when you do find them you’ll find their home page and have to search through their site for what you’re looking for, whereas with smaller sites you can have focus on internal pages to take customer to exactly what they’re looking for. This helps conversion rates, which ultimately means more profits for the little guy.

Reporting to Everybody

As I mentioned when talking about red tape, larger companies aren’t just answering to themselves. Zales might do a lot of business, but they have to report to their shareholders, board of trustees, and everybody else. When the little jewelry store down the street has a good quarter, the only person they’re answering to is themselves.

Because of having to answer to shareholders, larger companies need to be able to quantify their numbers into something that is easily understood, and that usually means time, energy, and resources channeled into producing these reports, as well as a system in place on the website that can easily produce the numbers needed. Those systems are often not SEO friendly. So while Zales might be able to tell their shareholders how much money they sold in the 3rd quarter of 2005, the small jewelry store down the street can figure out how much money they made, how many of each product they sold, and still rank in the top 10 for their big keywords.

Keep on Fighting

Sure, it can be discouraging to look at big companies and the money they can spend, but in this digital age with more and more people finding the products and services they want online through search engines, smaller companies can compete with larger ones through quality SEO and user-friendly websites. With a little work your company can get more internet exposure than those that spend millions of dollars on commercials, radio spots, and billboards. That’s the beauty of quality SEO.

SEO Tips to Last a Year

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008 |

52 SEO TipsIn 2007 I wrote a SEO tip every week. Okay, sometimes I was a little late but at the end of the year I had compiled 52 pretty good search engine optimization tips. A few are out of date, but I have listed which ones and given some information to explain why. Of course you can see all the tips in the 52 SEO tips category on this SEO blog, but to make things easier and to fulfill a few requests I have placed them all in a PDF.

Finding software that would build the PDF easily was not an easy task. In the end, the software did a credible job, but it isn’t exactly like I wanted it. But rather than tweak it endlessly I have decided to release it as is. The good news is it is free and I think most of those in the SEO industry can learn from it. I certainly learned something while putting it together.

So please visit the download page: 52 SEO Tips Download. Give a link back to us if you find it helpful.

Shell Harris
http://www.bigoakinc.com/

Squidoo Struggles with Nofollow bugs

Tuesday, April 15th, 2008 |
Squidoo NoFollow
Click the image to enlarge

For the past few days, many people who create new Squidoo lenses have been met with an unpleasant surprise. All the links on the lenses have been turned to nofollow, as demonstrated in the screen shot on the right. Apparently, this is a bug that popped up after Squidoo changed servers. The lenses are jammed in WIP mode, and in this mode, all links (including internal Squidoo links) are nofollow. It normally only takes the daily lensrank update to break free from this mode and, in turn, have all the links transformed to dofollow. The bug can be traced all the way back to April 9th, so it seems a bit funny that it still hasn’t been resolved.

Hopefully, this bug isn’t a preview of things to come. Most people would flip if Squidoo actually added nofollow tags. Although, Jason Calacanis might be pleased since he views Squidoo as nothing more than an outlet for spammers.

We’ll have to keep an eye on this one. It seems like a long time for a bug to still be acting up.

Big Oak SEO Blog

This SEO blog is provided by Big Oak SEO, a SEO Company. Most blog posts are related to search engine optimization, short reviews, SEO tips and increasing site conversions. Email us at contact@bigoakinc.com or give us a call 804-741-6776 to see how we can help your company. More

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