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Posted by Aaron Wheeler

 And now it’s PPC coming into the ring… he is looking ready to rumble! Pumping his fists, he’s showing off to the audience – looking to the left, to the right, and – wait, what’s that!? The crowd is going wild! PPC just straight out dissed SEO, who’s in the other corner, looking ready to strike! I tell ya, folks, I haven’t seen a rivalry this bitter since the great Northeastern College of Computer and Information Science Star Wars vs. Lord of the Rings debate of ’07! Well, maybe more bitter than that, actually… the point is, PPC and SEO may be siblings, but their contention with one another can run deep. Danny helps us sort out the strife and bring this band of brothers together (and actually keeps his bias out of it, kind of!). Don’t forget to use your nails, boys!

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Video Transcription

Hello, everybody. My name is Danny Dover. I work here at SEOmoz doing SEO. Today I’m excited about Whiteboard Friday. We’re doing "Sibling Rivalry: PPC versus SEO." As you can probably assume, I’m a big SEO junkie. I like making fun of PPC. I was talking to the PPC people on our team, Joanna Lord, who does that for us here, and she told me that I need to be on my best behavior. I need to try to be unbiased. I am going to try my hardest. I invite all of you to submit videos if you think that I am being too biased and you want to submit your viewpoint. Please submit them to my email address danny@seomoz.org. If it’s good enough, we’ll embed it on this blog so we can give people the biggest perspective possible. I know that working video cameras is hard for you PPCers. Just remember to hit record and take the lens cap off. This is not a good start to being unbiased.

Okay. So, PPC and SEO, the thing I’m talking about, of course, is what you see on search engine result pages. You’ll see on the top and on the right in the United States are ads. You’re going to pay for those. Those are what I am referring to when I talk about PPC, pay-per-click. SEO, search engine optimization, will be the rest of the page. Both of these, you know, they’re two different channels for marketing. They’re trying to accomplish the same goal. They’re both trying to drive traffic to a specific thing. Whenever you are looking at two different channels of the same thing, it’s important to figure out what are the pros, what are the cons, what are the strengths, and what are the weaknesses. How can these work together? When is it more appropriate to use one rather than the other? Let me talk about the pros and
cons of PPC and SEO.

The cons of PPC are really, really long, but I had to simplify it so I could fit it on the whiteboard here. With PPC, it starts really quickly. So, if you want to be showing up in Google for example, you can create an ad campaign and in the same day your ads will be showing up. It’s also a lot easier to measure than SEO. In fact, this is something I’m envious of PPCers. While I can use analytics and stuff, it gets complicated to try to measure SEO because you cast such a wide net. Whereas PPC, Google, Bing, and Yahoo, and everyone else have built some great interfaces. They’ve done some great things. So it’s a lot easier to measure your direct ROI on PPC.

The downside to PPC is that it cost a lot of money as compared to traditional SEO. You’re going to pay for every single click that comes through. That’s going to add up over time. In case you don’t know, it works on an auction system, so you’re going to pay more for more competitive keywords, which is not necessarily the same system with SEO.

With SEO it has a slower start-up. So, in fact, SEO can take a long time to start working. But it is essentially free. Once you do it once, it is in place and assuming best practices don’t change, which they usually don’t, it’s going to build on itself over time. The start-up cost is slower. It costs you less money, and it builds on itself over time. By that, I mean, with SEO if you get a link from The New York Times for example, that link’s going to help you for the lifetime of the link. If you run an ad with PPC, an ad that ran a year ago is not necessarily going to help you. To be fair, it could, you could argue it could help you from a branding perspective, but not in the same way that a mention in The New York Times would and actually give you direct link to and help you rank higher in Google.

On to the major contention points. This is where it gets a little bit more fun. The first one is budgets. PPC and SEO are generally put in marketing departments in companies. It varies of course. That means that they need to fight each other for budgets, along with all the other marketing channels. So, this is where I see the biggest contention. I think generally people realize that PPC and SEO are trying to accomplish the same thing — drive traffic. But PPC costs a lot more money up front. SEO costs a lot more money down the road to get these big initiatives through.

The next one is dev resources. Admittedly, SEO is much more dev heavy or development resource heavy than PPC. You could technically run a PPC campaign without any developers. But if you want to be creative and a better person, you could do SEO, and you’re going to need the help of developers. With marketing resources, people who are writing the ad copy and the people who are planning what the campaigns are going to be, it’s going to take more of your traditional markers, marketers to do that. Not markers. Although markers, you do use markers. So that could work. See that made sense. It did.

Lastly are the conflicting best practices. This is actually where when I am working with people at SEOmoz this is where we butt heads. With things like, especially when it comes to tracking, tracking parameters, this can be one of the biggest pros of PPC. It is really, really easy to measure. Part of that is implementing things that are not best practices for SEO, be it URL parameters or putting in a lot of duplicate content so you can test lots of different landing pages or be it keywords, keyword cannibalization. A lot of times you’ll be targeting the exact same words with your PPC campaigns as your SEO campaigns. That’s a good thing usually, because you want to dominate the entire SERP. But it also means that you can run into keyword cannibalization issues where pages you don’t necessarily want to rank organically start to. Don’t worry. I’ll talk about how to work with some of those things.

That brings us right into the tips for playing nice. The first one I think is probably the most important. Understand that you’re both working on the same team and that you need to unify your message. I said already, this will be my third time, you’re both trying to drive traffic. Make sure you are using similar phrases and that you’re trying to get to the same end goal when you’re doing this.

That segues nicely into the other one, which is learn each other’s jobs. I’ve actually learned a lot about SEO by trying to understand PPC. The same thing goes the other way around. Someone who knows a lot about PPC can learn a lot about improving their quality score by learning SEO basic best practices.

Share research and win. There are two important points here. The research. The first one that comes to mind is most of the SEO keyword research I do is through PPC tools. If you’re both trying to target the same words, it would make a lot of sense just to share that data. If you’re seeing words in SEO, like organic listings convert really well, you should probably tell your PPC person that as well. It’s just going to help the company as a whole.

The second one is share wins. Some days you’re going to have SEO wins. Some days you’re going to have PPC wins. It’s important to celebrate each other’s wins. You’re going for the same goal here. Plus, you get to celebrate more. If you’re at SEOmoz, this might be a Champagne Wednesday or something, right? The more you can drink in the office, the better. Share your wins. I highly recommend it.

This one over here is design campaigns together. I don’t necessarily mean have your SEO writing copy for your PPC campaign. I do mean talk about implementation. How are these landing pages going to be structured on the site? What are they going to look like? Are they nofollow? Are they blocked by robots.txt. What general ideas are you trying to target? The same thing with SEO. What message are we conveying through this URL structure? How is it going to affect quality score? Important things like that. Just make sure that multiple people working on these two different channels are working together when planning these different campaigns.

Number five is understand each channel’s strengths and weakness. So, PPC for example is great because it can be very temporal. If you want to get an ad up today and be what looks like ranking for something, which it’s really not, you can do it day of. It you just want to spend a lot of money, you can rank number one for whatever it is you want depending on your budget. Whereas SEO, you can’t do that. SEO, on the other hand, it will take you a lot longer, but for relatively low budgets you can rank competitively for high term. We see a lot of startups do this. They’ll have a great SEO campaign. They’ll do great content. They’ll start ranking for ridiculously competitive things. Mint.com did this originally. Their blog ranks extremely well for personal finance related things. They have a lot of great marketing channels, but SEO is one of the ones that really kicked butt and saved them, at least I’m assuming here, saved them a lot of money because they didn’t have to pay for the PPC ads, although they did on the side. But they didn’t need to. They drive a lot of traffic organically.

The last one is be liberal with rel=canonical and meta robots. This is more from an SEO perspective. By this I mean rel=canonical, if you’re going to have lots of URL parameters that show up a lot on blogs for tracking things, be liberal with this. Use it as much as you can. At SEOmoz, we’re trying to get it implemented on every single page so that if someone has a bunch of parameters through our URLs, it will always go back to one canonical version.

The second part of this is meta robots. There are very, very few cases where you should ever use robots.txt to block a page because you’re just creating a black hole in your website and you’re wasting links. But with landing pages for PPC it make a lot of sense to noindex them so they don’t start competing against pages that are SEO driven
, but you should share the link value within them. So, using a follow. There’d be a meta robots noindex follow.

I think that’s all I got, other than PPCers are big dum-dum heads. I invite you to share your own video clips explaining the other perspective of this. I appreciate your time. I’ll see you next week on Whiteboard Friday. Thank you.

Video transcription by SpeechPad.com

Follow Danny on Twitter! Even more to your benefit, follow SEOmoz! You know what? I’d love it if you’d follow me too: Aaron Wheeler.

If you have any tips or tricks that you’ve learned along the way, we’d love to hear about it in the comments below. Post your comment and be heard!

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SEOmoz Daily SEO Blog

Posted by Aaron Wheeler

 Happy Thanksgiving! In case you haven’t heard, this week Seattle underwent the most brutal snow storm in the history of mankind. To call it a snowpocalypse would be an understatement, as can be witnessed herein (it gets good so keep watching!). Unfortunately, Danny Dover was the one up to bat this week for Whiteboard Friday, but he perished in the harsh winter (he was the one that got off the bus after it careened into his stop. You can still hear the bus driver’s sentimental pronouncement, "12th and John."). Before he was frozen for all eternity, though, Danny must have filmed a Whiteboard Friday, because we found this tape in his icy grasp when we went to his home to hunt him down. We also found ham. A LOT of ham.

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Danny’s Whiteboard

7 Non-SEO Tactics That Will Make You a Better SEO

  1. Get a whiteboard in a non-work related place
  2. Prioritize SEO tasks before starting your day
  3. Dedicate time on your calendar for researching SEO
  4. Create new e-mail accounts for each client (Bonus: Ditch the spreadsheet, use 1Password)
  5. Take the time to explain your job to others
  6. Schedule meetups with online marketers in other niches
  7. Take the time to be thankful

Video Transcription

Hello, everybody. My name is Danny Dover. I’m in charge of SEO here at SEOmoz. Today for Whiteboard Friday, it’s a very special one. If you’re in the States, today is Thanksgiving. So, happy Thanksgiving everybody. In honor of that, or at least, at least a little bit to do with it . . . at least, at least, that was the remix. I have something special for you today. I have seven tactics to make you a better SEO. Most of these things are tactics that I just learned by myself. I would mess something up a lot and I was like, "Hey, if I had this little fix or if I had this little part in my life, it would improve my ability to work as a professional." I am passing these things on to you and hopefully you find them helpful as well.

The first one is also the most relevant. I’ll explain that in just a second. Put a whiteboard in a non work-related place. Today actually it’s in Seattle and I’m snowed in. I’m stuck in my apartment. Right now, I’m in my room. You can see behind me that I have a whiteboard in my room. I’ve found this; it just came up by accident. I found a whiteboard, just randomly put it up in my room, and it has actually been a lifesaver many, many times. A lot of times I’ll be thinking about SEO when I come back home from work. I’ll hav
e this whiteboard here and I can just doodle things out. Or if it’s for my personal life, I can do the exact same thing. I can do mind maps or I can do whatever else I need. I have found it to be extremely helpful. Really, it’s benefited me as an SEO. It’s made me better at my job, because when I get away from work and I am solving problems from a new perspective, I can just write it all down here. It’s a great way for me to transport information and preserve it. I highly recommend putting a whiteboard in a non work-related place.

Number two, prioritize SEO tasks early. I know that a lot of people, myself especially here, like to hit the ground running when you get into work on Monday morning. Figure out, go through e-mails, go through your priority list, and see what it is that you need to get done and then just go. That’s what I did for a long time. More recently, I’ve discovered that it’s really important to set aside about 20 minutes and just go through and prioritize what your jobs are. While it’s easy is to go do the quick fixes, implement a 301 here, change a title tag here, I’ve actually found it to be better off if I go through and just figure out what needs to get done that day and in what order. So specifically, prioritize your SEO tasks early in your day before you get started. I highly recommend doing that.

Number three, put research time on a calendar. I don’t need to tell any of you that SEO changes extremely quickly. It changes all the time. I’ve found it very beneficial for my job to actually block off some time on my calendar when I will have no meetings and no one can interrupt. I just sit there and I research SEO. I read what other blogs have to say. I’ll do some of my own tests that I’m running. I’ll just take the time out of my day every week to focus on SEO and research and do this every week so that I am continually learning. The key to SEO is continually learning because this industry moves extremely fast. Again, I highly recommend actually putting a block in your calendar of time to just research new things in SEO.

Number three is exactly what I just did, right. So, number three is redundant.

Number four, new e-mail per client. So, making a new e-mail address per client. This might sound a little bit obvious so I have a little bonus for you. The idea behind a new e-mail address for every client is not to accept e-mails from each client at a different e-mail address, that’d be very confusing. Instead create an e-mail address, so maybe it’s Danny, if you’re using Gmail you can use this trick where you add a plus mark in it, so, Danny, and, let’s say, client X at SEOmoz.org [Danny+X@SEOmoz.org]. What that does is it will submit the client e-mail back to my normal inbox so I’ll get it in the normal place. But then when I sign up for different services, like Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools and they require an e-mail address, I’ll have it segmented by client. I’ve found this to be extremely helpful just for keeping myself sane and for keeping client’s information organized. In fact, if you can do it by creating real e-mail addresses that are all separate with different passwords, that’s the best way to do it, because from a security point of view if one of your e-mail addresses gets compromised, you don’t compromise your entire client base. I know that a lot of SEOs will just use a spreadsheet and do the e-mail address and the password on that, and that’s great except for that if that spreadsheet ever gets compromised, your entire portfolio will have a problem. If you can create different e-mail addresses for each client that’s a great way to go.

Number five, take time to explain your job. This one is something that, I think, a lot of SEOs don’t do. When someone asks you about SEO, we joke about this a lot. I’ve had lots of dinners with other SEOs where we’re like, "Yeah, no one knows what I do." We laugh about it. It’s very funny. Our parents and a lot of our friends have no idea what we do. What I’ve found is that when you actually take the time to explain what SEO is to these people, it is a new opportunity for clients. Not necessarily like your best friend or a sibling or something, but they will then explain what you do to other people. Our job is kind of interesting just because it is so niche. There’s not very many people in the world that do what we do. So by explaining that to people whenever someone has that demand, say it’s my sister Jessica, when she’s talking to some of her friends about what I do, if she ever does that, I don’t know. But if they ever have any questions about Google, they’re going to know that I’m a person in their life that they can come talk to. Through that I can get clients. This is a trick that has actually worked for me, so I highly recommend it.

Number six, schedule meals with other online marketers. This one I’ve done in the past. Just schedule meals with your other friends who happen to be online marketers and you talk about work. That’s great. That works. I highly recommend it. But a little tweak to that that I’ve found is scheduling weekly meetings with online marketers who work in different spaces. So, there are plenty of people in the industry that I respect, but I’ve got in the habit of going out for beers once a week with my friend Sam Nichols who works more in the affiliate space and PPC and areas that I don’t focus on as much. We get to talk about online marketing and just life in general. I’ve found that because he focuses on another area of online marketing, I’ve been able to help my SEO tactics. Thank you, Sam. I appreciate that. I highly recommend that you go out of your way to schedule meals, even if it’s not weekly, maybe if it is monthly, but with people who work in other sectors of online marketing. We’re all, it’s all kind of interrelated so you can learn a lot from doing that.

Last, but not least, if you’re in the States, it’s Thanksgiving yesterday I think when you’re going to be watching this. So, happy Thanksgiving to everyone. In honor of that, I want to say take time to be thankful. SEO is a very stressful job at times. We also have a lot of freedom. The fact that I’m working from home today and I get to film this 5 feet away from my bed. I didn’t even have to get out of my room today. There’s a lot of flexibility in this job, and it’s something I really appreciate. We can do it from anywhere we have the Internet. That’s a really great thing. So, hopefully you take time to be thankful for your job and thankful for other elements in your life. Being able to reflect on that, I think, is important for really establishing yourself as a growing SEO, as someone who is continuing to lean and happy with where they are.

Thank you for watching this. I appreciate your time. I will see you next week on Whiteboard Friday.

Video transcription by SpeechPad.com

Follow Danny on Twitter! Even more to your benefit, follow SEOmoz! You know what? I’d love it if you’d follow me too: Aaron Wheeler.

If you have any tips or tricks that you’ve learned along the way, we’d love to hear about it in the comments below. Post your comment and be heard!

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SEOmoz Daily SEO Blog

Posted by great scott!

One of our favorite things about SMX Advanced is that it brings all kinds of cool people to town, and you know what that means: special guest stars on Whiteboard Friday!  This week we’ve got one of our pals from across the pond, Richard Baxter of SEO Gadget, joins Rand to talk about how to get your content indexed faster.

When you’re covering poppin’-fresh, trending, news-worthy content, there’s no time to sit around whittling miniature canoes and waiting for Google to come crawl your site and index your new content. That sort of passive attitude will allow your competitors to dominate all of that awesome Query Deserves Freshness search traffic and make enough money to go buy real, full-size canoes whittled by fine Native American craftsmen.  You’ll be poor and jealous, and we just can’t have that. Watch this week’s video to learn several near-magical strategies to get your fresh content indexed faster than meth-fueled panther (that’s fast, people)!



Okay, you’re so fast that you ain’t got time to watch no stinking video, you just want the overview, well here you go. Mr. Baxter’s five strategies for super speedy indexing:

1. Normal Crawling

No, it’s not fast (usually), but it’s fairly reliable. That said, we don’t care about reliable; patient people are reliable and we’re not patient today, we want it NOW! Normal crawling is for sissies, ignore this point and move on to…

2. Update Your XML Site Map

There’s a link within your Google Webmaster Tools that will let you ping Google and let them know you’ve updated your XML, News, or Video Sitemaps. If you ping them, they will come. They may not come as quickly as they would if you put out a sign that says, "Free Beer," but it’ll definitely be much faster than their normal crawl pace.

3. PubSubHubbub

Say that three times fast! You won’t summon the Candyman, but you will remember the name of this awesome service that can help you get found super quickly. By publishing to a PubSubHubbub Hub (you can use a public one or create your own using Superfeedr), you’ll automatically reach all PSH-compatible services including Google Reader, Friend Feed, and Feedburner. One-stop-shopping, people (and Richard promises that it’s super easy)!

4. Twitter

Okay, okay, it’s not an official signal, but everybody who’s anybody thinks it’s highly likely that Google watches for new and/or popular content URLs that may be emerging faster than they can discover them. Makes sense, right? You and your friends can send word of the latest and greatest Hatchet-Wielding Super Hero faster than Google can find it; and if lot’s of people re-tweet it, there’s a good chance it deserves a little oomph in the SERPs.

5. Ping-O-Matic

Other than sounding like yet another wonderful device from the twisted mind of Ron Popeil, this service is like a combination of tactics 2 and 3. Ping-O-Matic lets you quickly ping a bunch of web services (such as PostRank, Bloglines, NewsGator, and Google Blog Search) notifying them of new content on your site. It’s as if there were a giant alarm that went off alerting the world of your amazing new content, and hey, isn’t that exactly what we’re trying to accomplish (as long as it doesn’t sound like the car alarm that keeps going off outside; I’d like to drop a meteorite on that car)?

There you go, five awesome tactics to get your stuff indexed and out to the public faster than a well-trained team of bobsledding ducks! Big thanks to Richard for hanging out with us this week and taking the time to work a little whiteboard magic.

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SEOmoz Daily SEO Blog

Posted by Aaron Wheeler

 Feeling lost or listless, like your head is in the sand? It’s clear what you need: a monthly action plan! What with all the resources available to SEOs these days, it can be hard to stay on track and maintain a campaign without getting bogged down in minutia and losing track of the big picture. Well, for this week’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand is here to help! Just as Superman needs to vacuum the Fortress once a month, SEOs need to make sure they check up on their campaigns regularly by reviewing their diagnostics and metrics and researching their keywords and link profiles. It’s like being Superman, but more fun! Unless you like vacuuming.

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Video Transcription

Coming soon!

Video transcription by SpeechPad.com

Follow SEOmoz on Twitter! You know what? I’d love it if you’d follow me too: Aaron Wheeler.

If you have any tips or tricks that you’ve learned along the way, we’d love to hear about it in the comments below. Post your comment and be heard!

Do you like this post? Yes No

SEOmoz Daily SEO Blog

Posted by Aaron Wheeler

 Brands and company-specific brand name products have become much more important to search engines recently. Google tries to serve us with relevant content, so if it thinks we want to know more about Adidas or Puma, it’s going to tell us about these brands rather than about the random online shoe stores that we’ll probably click away from (you know the ones!). This might be great if you’re a major brand, but what if you’re not? And what’s happening if you are? How is it working? This week, Rand is here to let us know more about search engines and how they rank brand name products and sites.

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Video Transcription

Dobar den! Welcome to Whiteboard Friday. That’s my attempt at some Bulgarian. I think "dobar den" means hello/good day in Bulgarian. We’ll find out. I’m sure someone will comment on the blog.

Welcome to Whiteboard Friday. Good to be back in the States. Good to be back here in Seattle at SEOmoz Whiteboard Friday studios talking about an interesting topic that’s come up quite a bit — search engines and brand entities. There’s this concept that’s been talked about in the SEO world for a while, for a couple of years now, that Google sort of has this favoring of brands, of sites that have built up what you would call brand recognition and brand entities in the minds of consumers. It is sort of interesting because SEO folks have been asking some questions like, "Well, how do I know if I am a brand? What constitutes a brand and what doesn’t? Why would Google be going in this direction? What can or should I be doing?" We don’t have scientific great answers to all of these questions, but we can start to try and tackle some of them and at least get a lot of folks in the search marketing sphere thinking more about this branding stuff. I think that definitely the changes that Google’s been making around the Vince update, maybe some of the things around MayDays, certainly some of the things around showing more branded results in queries when, for example, someone types in a search plus SEOmoz, they might be showing a lot more than just two results from the SEOmoz.org website thinking that there is a brand intent to show things from just one site.

So, first let’s start by talking about why brands? Why does Google care so much about this? There’s that famous quote, of course, from Eric Schmidt, Google’s president, that Aaron Wall has brought up on SEO Book a number of times saying, you know, "Brands are how we sort out the cesspool." So, there is this cesspool of content on the Web, a lot of it being stuff that users don’t want.

You can kind of imagine this if you
put yourself in the mind and the shoes of a searcher. Shoes particularly, right. So, in this case, Google is kind of looking at these the way a human would. So maybe we’ve got our guy over here and he’s sort of looking at these different sites. He’s done a search for running shoes. He sees Adidas, which makes tons of sense; Adidas is a running shoe brand. Great, great thing to have in the result. Puma, sure. Vibram, okay, that’s kind of an emerging brand coming up. And then there is tennis-shoe-store. Yeah, I mean, maybe they’ve done a great job earning links and maybe they have a good website and that kind of thing, but consumers get kind of suspicious of this. Searchers get kind of suspicious of this. The non-brand results bring some dissatisfaction. You can see that in some of the search engine research and result testing that various organizations have conducted, including the search engines themselves. You can kind of feel it viscerally. When you look through the results yourself you kind of go, "Man, I don’t know about these. It’s a lot of hyphenated domains and sites I’ve never heard of. Can I trust them?" I go and visit them and they look sort of almost SEO heavy but not content or usability heavy. It’s so frustrating, right. I think Google is kind of saying, "Hey, we’ve got some ways to identify this. Maybe we’ll send some of the preferences over to brands."

So, let’s try and tackle the question, what makes a brand? What is it that separates a brand from a non-brand in the minds of the search engines when it comes to domains, when it comes to websites and pages? You can think of a lot of different things. Certainly Google has put out some patent applications that suggest some of the things they might look at. They made an acquisition of a company called Metaweb that does a lot of these things, including a service called Freebase that kind of makes entity associations from context and text and word usage. These things can include stuff like appearance and repetition of text content. You can imagine that Adidas, Puma, and Vibram, these show up on the Web a lot more than tennis-shoe- store.info or whatever it is. There is kind of this idea, "Huh, maybe that’s a brand, maybe that’s not." And then there is context of use and positioning of that text and content. You can see that those brands are all mentioned in news and they’re mentioned in blogs. They’re in stores. They’re in different stores both on and off the Web. They’re in eCommerce shops. They’re featured in traditional media outlets, online and offline. You see them in offline media as well. They show up in links. They show up in advertising. Certainly things like Google’s acquisition of DoubleClick and looking at tools like the DoubleClick Ad Planner could give you some insight into things that they view as brands and entities and how they associate those verus sites that they don’t really have an audience association or brand association with. The brands appear in things like patents. They appear in licenses. They appear in government and official documentation. There is all this sort of context and use of positioning.

Finally, brands have these user base kind of signals as well. Brands get talked about when people participate in social media. They get talked about when people perform search queries themselves. If Google sees that lots of people are searching for things like Adidas, Puma, and Vibram, but not searching for tennis-shoe-store, that could be a signal that this is a brand entity and these aren’t. There is language and communication which Google has been getting heavily into. They have their GOOG-411 service. They certainly power Gmail. They power a lot of other services where they are essentially looking at what’s being talked about, what’s being said, what’s being recorded, and written by humans all across not just the Internet but across our societies. All of these signals might help Google to make associations around what is a brand and what is not and then return results that are sort of this brand biasing.

A lot of this is sort of interesting theoretical stuff, but I know that many SEOs are going to be asking the question, "Well, what do I actually do with this data?" So, some good things to keep in mind is that we as SEOs sometimes ignore branding. We ignore the impact of let’s do broad-based advertising, let’s participate in display, let’s participate in media or in video or in offline advertising or in things like getting our brand name out there and events, those kinds of things. We become very obsessed and focused on just sort of the very basic elements of SEO — the on-page, getting links, those kinds of things. That might work. But if you’re seeing this brand biasing, you might think about some of these branding tactics as a way to move your site and your rankings forward.

Secondarily, don’t let your SEO get ahead of your organic momentum. What I mean by that is, I see and feel a lot of the times that many SEOs who get very aggressive with their domains, particularly in competitive spaces where there is brand preferences or where Google appears to be trying to do some of those things, we’ll see that they’ll do a great job earning links. They’ll get lots of good anchor text. They’ll earn those links to those pages. They might not always be from the best sources, and they don’t do a lot of these types of things. People are not saying things about them in social media. They’re not positioned in context. They are not mentioned in the news and in natural normal blogs, offline stuff, and advertising. They appear to be these sort of solely pseudo Internet brands. That could potentially be a negative signal, or at least it might not track as well as someone who’s got both signals going.

You know, as part of that, finally, I would say, try and work on making your site and your product and the naming conventions that you use as brand friendly, as branding friendly, as possible. All of those things are going to potentially impact the way your brand is perceived.

The great thing about all of this stuff, about these recommendations and about the concept of branding in general, is that there’s a lot of psychology, a lot of years, decades of marketing science and research going to the fact that, hey, brands get positively associated in consumers’ minds and they drive a lot more behavior. They drive sales, traffic, demand, and all these kinds of things. Certainly search engines can help with that, but remember that in one case when you’re doing brand building, you are sort of building and creating demand that might not have existed otherwise. When you’re doing SEO, all you can really do is serve existing demand, rank for the kinds of things that people already are searching for. This is a great thing to be thinking about not just from an SEO perspective, from a rankings perspective, but from a company building perspective and from a holistic marketing effort. It certainly feels like SEO is going in that direction.

All right, everyone. Take care. We’ll see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday.

Video transcription by SpeechPad.com

Follow SEOmoz on Twitter! While you’re at it, follow me too: Aaron Wheeler.

If you have any tips or tricks that you’ve learned along the way, we’d love to hear about it in the comments below. Post your comment and be heard!

Do you like this post? Yes No

SEOmoz Daily SEO Blog

Posted by @aaron_wheeler

 Howdy mozfans! This week’s Whiteboard Friday features the return of Danny Dover, our lead SEO here at SEOmoz. He’s going to be discussing the basics of local SEO, a rapidly developing, important niche in SEO land that involves a complex amalgamation of many data sources and metrics. Hey, sounds a lot like the regular SEO we know and love! Take a look at what’s on Danny’s whiteboard here below the video.

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Danny’s Whiteboard:

SEO Local: Behind the Scenes:

  1. Most important: accessibility and content
  2. Second most important: keyword research and targeting
  3. Third most important: links
  4. Fourth most important: social

SEO Local-Specific Features/Considerations

  1. Search engine page
  2. Local directory submissions
    • Yahoo Local
    • Yelp
    • Citysearch
    • Urbanspoon
    • Trip Advisor
    • Judysbook
    • Insider Pages
    • Niche Data Sources
  3. Links
  4. Addresses
  5. Categories
  6. Reviews

Other Metrics Worth Considering

  1. Title (Business Name)
  2. Photos
  3. Social

Video Transcription

Coming soon…

Video transcription by SpeechPad.com

Follow Danny on Twitter! Even more to your benefit, follow SEOmoz! You know what? Why don’tcha follow me too: Aaron Wheeler.

If you have any tips or tricks that you’ve learned along the way, we’d love to hear about it in the comments below. Post your comment and be heard!

Do you like this post? Yes No

SEOmoz Daily SEO Blog

Posted by Aaron Wheeler

Happy Halloween mozzerati! Oh, Roger wants me to tell you: "Trick or treat!" Actually, this week we’ve got a lot more treats than tricks for you. Our treats will even help you overcome some of the nasty trixes of the SEO world! Jen Lopez, our Community Manager at SEOmoz, is here to tell you about some of the scary SEO mishaps that could happen to you if you’re not careful. You’re going to want to watch this one all the way through; I hear there’s a wiked Halloween mozzter mash at the end! Roger may even go trick or treating after the credits…

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Video Transcription

Coming soon…

Video transcription by SpeechPad.com

Follow SEOmoz on Twitter! I’d love it if you’d follow me too: Aaron Wheeler.

If you have any tricks or treats that you’ve learned along the way, we’d love to hear about it in the comments below. Post your comment and be heard! Happy Halloween!

Do you like this post? Yes No

SEOmoz Daily SEO Blog

Posted by Aaron Wheeler

A few weeks ago Danny showed us some of the basics for image SEO, a medium that may not initially seem valuable for SEO purposes. Well, Danny dispelled that illusion swiftly, with a little help from his friend Doc Brown. This week, Danny’s out there alone but still manages to show us that words aren’t all they’re cracked up to be; videos can yield some great SEO value, too. Besides giving us proven and actionable suggestions, Danny also postulates on some experimental and potential ways to optimize images that may prove useful now and in the future.

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Video Transcription

Hello, everybody. My name is Danny Dover. I work here at SEOmoz as the lead SEO. On today’s Whiteboard Friday, I’m going to tell you about the basics of image SEO. We found, when we were doing correlation analysis, that images and specifically the alt text that’s inside of them are a remarkably well-correlated metric for SEO. Besides just being useful for people, images are also, it turns out, useful for search engines. I think part of the reason behind that is that pages that are well developed tend to also have images on them because it helps portray information in a way that textual based content can’t do.

Let me go over some of the important factors with image SEO. Number one, I already mentioned this a little bit, is alt text. Alt text is the text that you provide for an image in case it can’t be displayed. Maybe the image is gone or maybe someone is using a program that can’t display images. This is the text that takes it place. So it makes a lot of sense from an SEO perspective that this metric is going to be important because it’s the information you tell the search engines and other technologies what the image represents. With these, I recommend keeping them below about 140 characters. It’s a rough rule of thumb. Also, have them be descriptive and in line with what you’re trying to target for that page.

Number two is the file name. This works off the exact same principles. The file name is also information you give directly to the search engines and to other technologies to identify what the information is about. I would gander, if you will, that the file name is probably a rougher signal than the alt text. Alt text, from my experience, when it’s there, which is not all the time, in fact, alt text is not included many times which is bad for SEO. But when it is included, it tends to be a clearer signal than a file name which a lot of times is just algorithmically generated by the timestamp, so it’s just a bunch of numbers.

Number three is the surrounding text. I think a lot of people don’t think about this when they’re thinkin
g about image SEO. The text around an image tells a lot about the image itself. This makes sense, right? You’ll see a lot of times where images will be on a blog post and you’ll have a caption describing the image. This is just another signal telling the search engine and other people and technologies what it is this image is about. The surrounding text, and that can either be a caption, like you’ve seen traditionally, or it can just be the paragraphs around the image. A lot of times an image will be used to supplement what the textual information is talking about. So the surrounding text is very important.

Fourth, as with all SEO, inbound links are important. It wouldn’t necessarily be inbound links to the image URL, although it could be, but what I mean in this context is links going to the page that has the image embedded on it. Just like in normal SEO, the anchor text of those inbound links and where they’re coming from and how many of them are all really important factors for image SEO and then SEO in general.

Last is number five which is human categorization. The search engines, especially at the beginning when they were developing this image recognition software, used humans. They would hire people and they’d say, "Label this." Google was semi-famous for creating this game, Google Image Labeler, which I think you can still find online, where it would show you an image of, say, an apple. They would ask you in Family Feud style, which is a game show here in the States, to list words that are associated with that object. You’d say something like apple, and you’d earn points if someone else also said apple. Maybe it’s red, Fuji, or Grandma Smith, or whatever it is. So other words that are associated with the image. And that way they could train their software to start to understand what general shapes and ideas mean within images.

On the other side here, I have some more theoretical things that search engines may be using, while the things on this side are the things that we know they’re using. We’ve heard search engineers talk about this. We’ve seen direct evidence. These are things that I think you should pay attention to but probably just going forward. It’s more just for your knowledge rather than for you to use on your day to day.

The first one is OCR. OCR stands for optical character recognition. It’s a very established software. It comes in a lot of Adobe products. You can get it in lots of places. What it does is it scans an image and can identify characters in it, characters like letters or numbers or spaces or whatever. From that, you can take actual text out of images. Again, this is a very popular software. It seems very likely to me that search engines are using this at least to some degree. It would be very costly for them from a resource perspective to use on every image on the Internet, but it would certainly make sense if they were using it on some or at least playing around with the technology.

Number two is color analysis. It’s very easy from a development perspective to identify at least one color, maybe the primary color, within an image. You pick a pixel and you see what the hex code or whatever it is that you’re measuring that on, it will be based on file type. It’s pretty easy to get a general idea of what the color of an image is. This is helpful from a design standpoint if you’re looking for certain color themes that go with each other or color patterns. Now we’ve seen this actually in the SERPs, so if you go to Google image search, you can see now, and Bing actually had this first, you can go to the image SERPs and you can actually pick to see only images that are of a certain color. Black and white is the obvious one, but then other colors as well.

Number three is file size and type. This one, I think, is more all about the extreme. If the image is ridiculously big, it’s probably not going to get indexed just because the search engines don’t want to spend the resources on that. The exception to that would be if it’s ridiculously well linked to also. It’s about finding these outliers. You probably don’t want to have an image that’s really, really big. It’s probably not going to get indexed. Again, I think what it really comes down to is this is hurtful for users also because they’re going to have to spend time downloading that. If bandwidth is a concern, they’re probably going to click away to begin with. Image size and along with image type, the standard image things are all probably fine for Google.

I’ve heard just a rough rumor here that JPEG is preferred, but honestly GIFs and PNGs and all those other things are probably fine. I would not worry about those aspects. Only worry about it if you’re using obscure file formats, which you shouldn’t be doing to begin with.

The last one on here is the other images on the page. This is twofold. The first part being the other images on the page are likely related to the given image and that’s because they’re on the same page. Right? The other part, and I see this happen a lot especially with bigger clients, is when you put lots and lots of images on one page, like an image gallery, those pages tend to be very hard to get indexed. The reason for that is there’s not a lot unique textual content. A lot of times it’s just overwhelming to users. It doesn’t provide a lot of benefit in a search result.

That’s all the time I got today. I appreciate you listening to this. Please feel free to ask questions in the comments below. Thank you.

Video transcription by SpeechPad.com

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SEOmoz Daily SEO Blog

Posted by Aaron Wheeler

I’ve always liked encyclopedias; when I was in middle school I started using Encarta on CD-ROM, and sure, I usually needed it for "help" with my homework, but sometimes I would stray to non-copy-and-pasting-from-encyclopedia activities and watch terribly animated videos of war battles or Shakespearean plays. My poor children will never know the joys of a succinct five page article on the American Revolution with an accompanying 30-second 160 X 200 resolution video! I suppose they’ll have to make due with the way too informative Wikipedia article and an accompanying overly high-def retelling of events – do they really need to be able to see Benjamin Franklin’s hickeys?

Anyways, if my aforementioned future kids do end up needing to write about the American Revolution, and you have a great site about it, how can you make sure they end up seeing your content? There are a lot of reasons for why it can be hard to rank for reference content, but fortunately, Whiteboard Friday is here to help! This week, Rand discusses some great ways to get your reference content to the top of the SERPs.

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Video Transcription

Howdy, SEOmoz fans! Welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re talking specifically about reference content, which is a type of content that often has a tough time earning external links, has a tough time getting rankings and visibility in the search results. Yet a lot of people are both (a) interested in it form a searcher perspective and (b) have marketers who are interested in ranking for that type of topic so that they can draw in traffic to help brand their site to sell advertising, to build themselves up as industry authorities, and sometimes even to make direct sales as they relate to that reference content.

So, let’s start with some tips, some specific action items that you can take that will help your reference content get more rankings. When I talk about reference content, I mean everything from, like, dictionary-type definitions to encyclopedic types of content to how-to content. Anything that is sort of less about a news item, an exciting development, or a blog post and more like a piece of content that is simply informational in nature and designed to provide sort of an evergreen long-term resource. It’s tough to get this stuff ranking, but I think we can help.

First off, let’s talk about keyword usage. As you’re building out this content, a lot of people think, "All right. I need to have a certain number of the target keywords and I’m going to use these keyword varia
tions and I’m going to have this keyword density." I talk about the keyword density myth a lot of the time. The problem is, and I think one of the reasons it doesn’t resonate with folks or why people still say, "You know what, I think Rand is full of it on keyword density. It totally works," is because it is true that in many cases you can have a keyword that is used a certain number of times, a small number of times on a page and you can increase the number of times that it is used on a page and see the rankings go up. People say, "Well, that’s proof that keyword density works." In some semantic form, that is technically correct.

The problem is density itself is not necessarily, is almost certainly not the metric. Let’s say very certainly not the metric that search engines are using. So when you use that metric you might be conflating different variables. It could indeed be the case that adding more keywords and increasing technically what could be measured through density is helpful. But density itself is a bad way to measure things. What I’d urge you to instead think about is, "Am I hitting all of these items, and am I doing a good job with them?" If I am, chances are good that increasing my density, measuring my density, is going to add no value. Certainly, it’s the case that the search engines don’t measure it. We don’t want to be doing things that are sort of obviously known to be not used by the engines.

So, things like using the keyword element in the title, preferably at the beginning of the title, particularly for reference content is really good. People want to see right in the title in the search engine results that your page is about the content that they’re searching for in the H1 headline. The H1 headline may not help all that much, or specifically using the H1 tag to designate your headline, as opposed to just having it big, bold, and at the top of the page, may not help that much. So if it is a pain, I wouldn’t worry about it. But if you can, it is sort of a nice, good semantics thing to do. Good web standards.

Certainly, having it in the headline, whether you’re using the H1 tag or not, is important because when someone clicks on that result and reaches your page, you want to reinforce the notion right there at the top of the page, in the headline, that this content that they’ve reached is about what they searched for and it is what they just clicked on. When you have the disconnect between those words and phrases, I really worry that a lot of times your bounce rate will increase, you’ll see people leaving the page. It makes good sense form a usability perspective.

The meta description is certainly a good place to use it. It will get bolded and highlighted in the search result. Even though it doesn’t directly help with rankings.

The URL, same story. Although URLs do seem to have some nice correlation. It looked like in our ranking models that they have some causation influencing that. Certainly, you can see that when you change over to search friendly URLs that use the keywords in there those are very nice for SEO purposes as well.

The body tag usage. This is where people get super obsessed with keyword density. Most of the time, unless your article is really huge, I don’t worry very much about keyword density or the number of times you use it. You use it a few times, you use it the number of times that it makes sense in the document — two, three, four, five, six, right. Those are fine. But I wouldn’t obsess about like, "Okay. Wait. I think we have it nine times here. We should only have it eight because the average of the top ten is that they’re only using it X many times." Get out of town. Like, no way, man. This stuff is not helping here. It is good to use it in the body tag.

It also is surprisingly good to use it in things like the image Alt tag and in the file name of an image that’s on the page. I don’t know what it is. It could just be correlation. It might not be causation, but it turns out that the image Alt tag is higher correlated than H1s are. So, maybe it’s just the case that people like having images that are on the topic. Or maybe the search engines actually do have a preference about this kind of stuff.

You should definitely be worried about readability. If a normal, average user comes to the page and they read it, but the material is not connecting with them and doesn’t make great sense, get out of there. It’s trouble. This is one of the ways that SEOs and people in independent websites can really compete with Wikipedia, which is oftentimes hard to read, hard to parse, hard to understand, not tremendously well written. It’s written by a group of authors a lot of the time. A lot of the material can be dense. The same goes for a lot of professionally published content that just isn’t as accessible.

Completeness. So, one of the things that I definitely think about and this relates back to sort of topic modeling and LDA stuff to whatever extent that’s being used. Certainly it seems like it is being used to some substantive effect, but we don’t know exactly how much. Being able to comprehensively cover the topic that you’re talking about will mean that more people like your content, reference it, use it, enjoy it, share it with their friends, and it means that they are getting value out of it, which means that metrics like time on site and browse rate will go up, which might help your SEO, might not help your SEO, but will certainly help your site metrics. You care about those, too.

Then, I think a lot about the angle that you’re taking with your writing. Things like, I’m going to take a research-driven angle, or I’m going to take an opinion-driven angle, or I’m going to take sort of a showing all the different controversial sides of this, or I am going to walk through the history of this. Having that angle that is sort of unique and people say, "Wow, when I visit SEOmoz, I feel like I get a really thorough understanding of all the issues around a particular topic. Or I get a very opinionated piece from Rand about what he thinks about a particular SEO tactic and how people have used it. Then I get different sorts of opinions in the comments." That angle that you take can brand your site, brand your domain, and your company as having useful information on that topic. All of these things are far better to think about. If you nail those, you’re going to win out over keyword density.

Next item that you do have to worry about with reference content is architecture — internal architecture and internal linking. We talk about this ideal link architecture, the ideal pyramid, a lot. You start with your home page. If you can do this thing where you’ve got a hundred links approximately-ish per page, a hundred unique links, and that’s linking down to the second level with all of your categories and each of those are linking down to subcategories, you can get to a million pages in just one, two, three hops. Three hops from any single page on a site to a million subpages means that even the most robust quantity of reference content can be reached in a small number of clicks. That portends really good things for search engines and for users who are trying to parse through your material and potentially surf your site.

This is a great way to think about organizing your site. You’re never going to get to this perfect layer, but if you can think about this organization as a structure as you’re planning, it would be very helpful. You don’t have to do this with your home page either. If you think about something like a sitemap, an HTML sitemap on your site that you link to in the footer of every page and that page links to all of these and then they all link to these, you’ve accomplished the same thing. You’ve basically made it three or maybe four hops from any page on your site to a million pages. That’s a really good thing.

You should also be thinking about things like using categories and s
ubcategories intelligently. You can’t just be listing content. Those categories and subcategory pages have to be useful and valuable in and of themselves. We’ve talked about that a little bit in the past here on SEOmoz, too. The relevance and usefulness of those pages is going to predict whether they themselves can draw in links. If these pages can draw in external links, you know that’s going to help all the pages that they point to down below to rank better, to earn more linkages and page rank and trust. Those metrics that will flow down through a site.

I think it is very important and very wise to look at models like what Wikipedia has done and NY Times has done, what About.com has done, with cross-referencing content at deep levels. When you get to these deep pages down here and it has a link back up to that category and over to this page which it’s referencing in the content, that’s super useful from a visitor’s standpoint because they’ll click more. You might have a higher browse rate, a higher pages per session, as well as driving SEO value in that the search engines might see this one or see that this is linked too and then follow those links out from there, pass more link juice and more crawling power across those pages.

The last one, and I know the most challenging one, is earning external links. Reference content, are you kidding me? It just doesn’t get linked to, you know. How are you going to win with this stuff? But there are ways. Successful companies have done really good things on this front. The first one I recommend is from the content perspective. Multimedia content, visual explanations, these kinds of things rock. I was pointing today on Twitter to a post from King Arthur Flour. Can you think of a more boring company? King Arthur Flour? Are you kidding me? They have an amazing blog. Their blog has earned hundreds, thousands of links because they’ve produced these blog posts that are sort of reference content about how to bake French bread and how to do no-knead bread. What they do is make them highly multimedia intensive. So, every step of the way they’ve got photo after photo after photo after photo. Tons of comments. People just loving it to death. Granted, you know, they’re in a moderately interesting area of recipes, but it is super competitive, and yet they rank for this stuff. They’re able to draw people in. And they can show off the fact that, you know, King Arthur Flour is sort of very highly rated for this kind of thing by other professional chefs, etc. Those visual explanations, the video content, they rock, right. You’re watching Whiteboard Friday, huh?

Next piece that I really like is doing things with research content as well as like charts, graphs, and data. Even if you take your data from third party sources and you reference back to it, if you’re the one who produces the actual visual chart, other people who want to embed that chart, want to use it in presentations, want to use it in blog posts, who want to talk about it, are going to use your materials. You can check out the SEOmoz free charts section where we take a bunch of data that’s from sources like Eightfold Logic and comScore and Nielsen and Hitwise, put them all together, and then put them into interesting charts that other people can reference and embed on their pages. Of course, they’ll link back to those original sources, as well as to us. Those are great ways to get your reference content to actually earn those links.

The last one, two methods to kind of go out there and do distribution. Those are licensing and translation. These tactics are ideal because you’ll see all these other sites that are copying your content are linking in to your work, referencing back to that original. That is going to provide for the fact that even though these might be technically duplicate content, when the engines see them referencing your single source, especially multiples referencing your single source, they’re going to know this is the original. You can do this with licensing where you say, "Hey, I know you are in this industry and you’d like to license out some content. I’ll be the reference resource for you. You can put this stuff on your site."

It’s brilliant, too, for translation. As the Web is getting more global, more people are interested in this. More people are trying to rank for search content in all sorts of other countries. You can say, "Oh, buon giorno! Would you like to translate this piece into Italiano?" Right? Those kinds of things are absolutely phenomenal.

By the way, I had a great time in Milan with some friends from WebRanking.it and Marco, exceptional experience. The Social Media Conference there had 25,000 people come to it. It’s insane. People care about SEO overseas, and you can leverage that to get these translated articles out there on the Web and then to have the links point back to you. What does it look like to Google when ten sites from all over the world are all pointing back to your reference articles? It looks like you’re going to win at SEO.

All right, everyone. I hope you’ve enjoyed this edition of Whiteboard Friday. I hope you’ll join us again next week for another one. Take care.

Video transcription by SpeechPad.com

Follow SEOmoz on Twitter! Also, you can always follow me, Aaron.

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Posted by Aaron Wheeler

Social media is becoming more and more important as the days go by; how else would I get my tri-weekly fix of XKCD delivered to me? Many people know about the marketing benefits from social media profiles, but sites like Facebook and Twitter can make a significant difference in your SEO campaign, too! This week, Rand shows us five great ideas for using these sites to help with your SEO strategy.

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Video Transcription

Hi, everyone. Welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re talking about social media profiles. A lot of marketers, a lot of people in the SEO field know and realize that social media profiles can be valuable for their marketing efforts on the Web. But they don’t know exactly how to use them or where to use them. That’s what I am going to try to help you with today. So, what we have are five great ideas around how to leverage your social profiles to help with SEO and then some specific tactics and recommendations on each one that I think even some of the advanced folks will find pretty valuable.

So, let’s start here with direct links. You can see that, basically, I can take my profile on a LinkedIn, a Twitter, a Facebook, a MySpace, a Digg, a Reddit, a Hacker News. There are tons of these, hundreds of these. In fact, I’ll link you over. We’ve got sort of a list going on SEOmoz somewhere. You can take these, create profiles on here, and these profile pages oftentimes will have a followed link, sometimes will have a no followed link, but even that’s okay, and point that link over to your website. So, essentially, MySite.com is now getting some credit. And this pen is getting thrown in the trash. Oh, I missed. Sadly missed.

When you do this, you do a couple of things. Number one is, when they are followed links, obviously you are getting direct link credit. When they are no followed links, sometimes people are picking these up and scraping them and you get credit from elsewhere. Sometimes you are just seeing the fact that, oh, someone finds you on those places. You’ve commented somewhere. They’re checking out your profile. They can follow that link over to your website. So, having these profiles exist and having the links point back to the right kinds of places on your website is critically important, very valuable.

Number two, SERPs domination. Now, when you are doing SERPs domination, what you are essentially trying to achieve is to fill up the top results with results that are let’s say positive or at least that you control what goes into those results. Places like Twitter.com, LinkedIn, Facebook, and even places that are a little mor
e random in the social media sphere, like a deviantART or a Drawer.com, those types of places will all help you to potentially fill up these results. There are a few critical things that you are going to need to do if you want to get these ranking well though. You can’t just create them. Tons and tons of people just create them. Lots of spammers just create them.

You need to fill up the profile with good information. You also need to participate relatively heavily in the site, at least initially. What you want to get going, if this is LinkedIn, you want to participate in LinkedIn Q&A. You want to actually import your email address book so that you form all of those connections. If this is Twitter, you want to start following people and topics. You want to start getting listed into the Twitter lists. You want to start having people following you and tweet at you. If this is Facebook, you’re going to need those same sorts of connections. Whatever the community is, you need to build up a robust profile with actual content. Fill out all the minimum requirements. Maybe even go overboard and start adding lots of content yourself to your profile. Also, you want to contribute heavily so that this gets indexed by the search engines. It becomes popular on the social site and it gets you into the SERPs.

It is also very valuable to link to these. This is one of my sort of pro expert tips. What I personally love to do is everywhere I speak, everywhere I am asked to give a talk, everywhere that features a quote from me or features my profile for a webinar or something like this, I always ask them to use the same biography. That bio quote includes, it will say, "Rand Fishkin is the CEO and cofounder of SEOmoz." That links to our website. And, "He wrote ‘The Art of SEO’." That will link to the O’Reilly site. Then, you know, "You can follow him on Twitter at RandFish," and that will link back to this Twitter profile site. Every time I give a speech, give a webinar, or participate in something offline, those links add up and help to make my profile rank better. It is a great, great way to go in terms of building links to those individual profiles. A really smart way to leverage offline and online marketing together.

Number three, so, brand awareness. On a lot of these sites when you are participating, when you are doing good things to get those direct links and doing good things for SERPs domination, you are also getting a lot of brand awareness. This is really important from the perspective of you don’t want to contribute to social media sites, particularly if you are a brand representative or a representative of your company or a representative of your personal brand in a way that would be contrary to how you would like your brand to be perceived. I know this is more sort of a marketing communication discussion, a little bit less SEO. But it is critical for SEO as well, because people who find a divergence between who you are on Twitter and Facebook versus who you are on your blog are going to be put off a little bit. There is that emotional disconnect that happens when you see that a brand or a person isn’t being authentic to itself. That is why it is critical to maintain those.

The other thing is you do want to make sure that you are leveraging these in smart ways. If you have a Facebook profile that you’re trying to build up, you are definitely going to want to link to it from your own website. I want this site over here pointing to Facebook and referencing it and making this sort of a conversion focused action that will drive people to participate. Remember that you can get network effects out of these. When you are updating your statuses, when you are providing information on these, you want these to be followed by people but you want to make sure that they are the kinds of things that people want to see, that they want to share. You can’t just be adding junk content.

It has to be updates not only that are sort of interesting and valuable, but updates that will make other people look good when they share them. We’ve talked about this principle a few times at SEOmoz. The idea in the social media world is even bigger. When you look at what gets re-tweeted, what gets re-shared on Facebook, what gets re-blogged on a platform like Tumblr, it’s the stuff that makes the person who is sharing it look good. Right? So, when I tweet out something about SEO, if it is just self- promotional, not a lot of folks are going to tweet that. But if I tweet out something that is interesting research about the field, a lot of other SEOs are going to tweet that because it is going to make them look good to their followers. That is what you are trying to achieve.

Number four, drive traffic and second order links. Right? So, with a lot of these social pages you have the opportunity when you produce content on them — when I tweet, when I do a Facebook status update, when I blog on Tumblr, when I contribute a LinkedIn status update, even when I contribute a post on a social news site like a Reddit or Hacker News or Digg or Delicious or something like that — to potentially promote a link. Those links will drive direct traffic, usually in proportion to the number of people that are following me.

But there are lots of other principles at work here, too. That’s I why I recommend you check out something like "The Science of ReTweets" by Dan Zarrella over at HubSpot. It will tell you things like there are certain times of day that are more optimal. There are certain words that are more optimal and less optimal to use. There is certain phrasing and formatting. In particular, this is a pro tip for Twitter stuff. Make sure that you don’t start the tweet with the link. Start the tweet with some copy. And you actually want to make sure that you have some extra content at the end of it. Potentially, one of the things that we’ve seen is that having either a hyphen or a colon before the link, announcing it, is really good, and that having hash tags, if you put a hash tag here right after the link, it will sometimes make the link stand out less. So the optimal way to go is text introducing the link, link, some additional text, and then if you want a hash tag or a reference or a via or those kinds of things.

Remember that if you do a direct re-tweet, it won’t show as coming from you. So if you can make those tweets unique when you are sharing a URL, you are likely to get paid more attention as well. The great part about this is you don’t just drive traffic with these, you also drive these sort of second order effects. I’ll show you an example. My friend Kang here from up above has found this link. I’ve tweeted it out. Then he goes to MySite.com. He visits whatever page I’ve tweeted there. Then he thinks, "Oh, well, that’s actually pretty interesting." So, Kang’s blog now links directly to it. This is why it is so important to be building that type of content that is share worthy, which we talked about a second ago, and to be tweeting, sharing, linking to, and Facebook status updating and LinkedIn status updating with those types of things. They are the kinds of things that will drive those second order effect of links and that will help you do SEO in the long run.

All right, final one here. Number five is that social media profiles can be a source of content for your site, both direct and inspirational. This means that social profiles can help you build the content that you need to have on your site in order to perform well in the engines, in order to target the long tail in a lot of cases. I’ll show you what I am talking about. And even to do some exciting link based stuff.

One of the tactics that I really liked is a specific one, and I’ll talk about a couple, is to use YouTube. YouTube sometimes will have very popular videos. When they are reference videos, or they are longer videos, or they have sort of tougher to understand content or the kind of content were someone might actually want to pa
rse it in text form, you can personally transcribe. Add some value, right? Break out the things that are important. Bold them. Highlight some quotes. That kind of thing. Build, essentially, your own version of that video. You can embed the video from YouTube on your site, have a commentary and transcript. Do an SEO friendly title. Now you’ve created great content using, leveraging someone else’s YouTube video. This kind of thing is just a phenomenal way to build content in a scalable way. You know that this is interesting stuff. You know this is stuff people care about because it has lots of views. It has become popular. Lots of people are tweeting it and sharing it. So you can follow up and capitalize on that.

You can do this as well with things like Twitter. If people are tweeting links or tweeting a conversation back and forth — you’ll see TechCrunch do this all the time, where they’ll take an interesting conversation or Media Gazer, those kinds of sites — they’ll take an interesting conversation back and forth and they’ll republish it with sort of screenshots of the tweets back and forth between people. They’ll do a little bit of analysis. That will become a blog post. A permanent piece of content that other people will reference and link to and comment on and add content to. That means you can potentially earn rankings and traffic for those in the engines as opposed to tweets, which dissolve. I really liked a quote that was tweeted today that was for Brett Tabke. He said that the instant a blog post is created that content starts living forever and producing SEO forever. The instant a tweet is created it starts dying. Right? It starts going away. It becomes temporal. It fades in the background.

You can also use this for more direct kinds of content generation. That is to say, particularly on sites like Twitter, which essentially are very temporal in nature. As we’ve discussed, you can take this content that you produce, I tweet a few times a day, some of them are very interesting links, some of them are interesting content, and I can reproduce them in sort of a daily digest on my site. A blog post if I’d like. An archiving system. That content is priceless, right? I’ve carefully crafted those 140 words, but what are they doing for my SEO? Nothing. That is why it is so valuable to potentially releverage the content that you are creating in a walled garden environment, like Facebook, something like LinkedIn, particularly something like Twitter that is temporal, into this format on your own site and have the opportunity to rank for it.

All right, everyone. I hope you’ve enjoyed this edition of Whiteboard Friday. We look forward to seeing you again next week. Take care.

Video transcription by SpeechPad.com

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