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Pretty exciting day in search seeing Bing results live on Yahoo! Search results.

Yahoo! Search Powered by Bing.

There were some questions as to what might transfer and what might stay. It seems that generally algorithmically there was roughly a 1 to 1 transfer.

Same Rankings.

Yahoo! is still showing fewer characters in their page titles than Bing does. Site links (listed below some sites) may also use different anchor text. But the core results are the same. The big exceptions to the concept of the 1:1 representation would be vertical search results, left rail navigation customizations & the inline search suggestions Bing does in their search results for popular search queries.

The vertical search results & left rail navigation being home grown is no surprise, as many of the features aim to keep you on the parent portal, and that is Yahoo!’s bread and butter. Here is an example of the inline suggestions Bing does (in this example, for “loans”)

Inline Suggest.

Instead of inline suggestions like that, you might see the following kinds of navigational cues from Yahoo!

Also Try.

There has been some speculation as to if any Yahoo! penalties will get rolled into Bing (or Yahoo!’s version of Bing) & so far it seems like that is generally a no. Of course, that could change over time. There also has been speculation of Yahoo! Site Explorer going away, but it seems it will remain through early 2012.

The Yahoo! Site Explorer team is planning tighter integration between Site Explorer and Bing Webmaster Center to make the transition as smooth as possible for webmasters. At this stage in the transition, it is important for webmasters to continue using Yahoo! Site Explorer to inform us about your website and its structure so you keep getting high quality traffic from searches originating on Yahoo! and our partner sites – even from markets outside the US and Canada that haven’t yet transitioned to Microsoft systems. To keep things simple, we will share site information you provide on Site Explorer with Microsoft during this transition period.

When Microsoft fully powers the Yahoo! Search back-end globally, expected in 2012, it will be important for webmasters to use Bing Webmaster Center as well. The Bing tool will manage site, webpage and feed submissions. Yahoo! Site Explorer will shift to focus on new features for webmasters that provide richer analysis of the organic search traffic you get from the Yahoo! network and our partner sites.

Unfortunately some of Yahoo!’s advanced link query operators seem to no longer work (say you wanted to find links to a domain from .gov pages). But you can get such link data (or at least a piece of it) from Majestic SEO or SEOmoz’s Linkscape (also in OSE‘s export feature & eventually their online interface).

Some smaller search companies, like Exalead, still offer advanced filters while performing link searches. The ability to search a full web index allows you to do cool stuff you can’t do with just a link graph. I haven’t looked at it yet, but I have heard good things & owe the folks at InfluenceFinder a review soon. When Blekko launches they will have a boatload of free SEO features to share as well. Members of our community have been giving it rave reviews for the past month or so.

SEO Book.com – Learn. Rank. Dominate.

Posted by Danny Dover

 This week on Whiteboard Friday we pull a secret out of the SEO secrets vault. This handy strategy helps you take advantage of the specific types of results that Google chooses for people and company based searches and helps you dominate your brand search engine result page.

Embed video
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Dominate Your Brand Search Engine Result Page (SERP)


Build YourBrand.com

Building a brand hub is an obvious suggestion but not necessarily for the reason you might think. Use these types of websites to promote what other domains are saying about you or your brand elsewhere on the Internet. This gives those pages (social media profiles, interviews, etc…) link juice and improves their relevancy, thus helping them rank for your brand SERP. (Hint: Use anchor text like "SEOmoz on Twitter" or "John Doe in the New York Times"). You can see an example of me doing this tactic on DannyDover.com

Build an Alternative Brand Site

After building your brand hub and linking from its homepage to the other pages you want to rank, you should build another brand site. In practical terms I recommend using a single page on a related domain. (I use this page targeting just my first name, Danny as my alternate). This helps you command a second result in the SERP because it is on a separate (and in this case, a more powerful) domain.

Create Social Media Profiles

This is obvious. Social media profiles (Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, etc…) are both great search results for people/brand searches and are on very powerful domains. This makes them great resources to fill up your brand SERP.

Do Interviews/News

Linking to relevant articles/interviews on your brand hub site is an excellent tactic for filling the remaining spots on your brand SERP. Like the last tactic, these pages are helpful search results for searchers and are usually on powerful domains.

Do PPC

This final tactic is less intuitive. Bidding on your name/brand allows you to control the ads on your brand SERP. This is helpful for branding (der…) and it actually tends to increase the click through rates of the number one result on the page as well as the ad.



Follow me on Twitter, Fool!
or
Follow SEOmoz on Twitter (who is slightly less rude)

If you have any other advice that you think is worth sharing, feel free to post it in the comments. This post is very much a work in progress. As always, feel free to e-mail me if you have any suggestions on how I can make my posts more useful. All of my contact in
formation is available on my SEOmoz profile under Danny. Thanks!

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Straight from the horse’s mouth:

We’ve started testing organic (also referred to as algorithmic) and paid search listings from Microsoft for up to 25 percent of Yahoo! Search traffic in the U.S. The primary change for these tests is that the listings are coming from Microsoft. However, the overall page should look the same as the Yahoo! Search you’re used to – with rich content and unique tools and features from Yahoo!. If you happen to fall into our tests, you might also notice some differences in how we’re displaying select search results due to a variety of product configurations we are testing.

If you haven’t given Bing much attention now would be a great time to review your Bing SEO strategy.

SEO Book.com – Learn. Rank. Dominate.

Posted by Tom_C

Wouldn’t it be great if you could somehow spot those SEO opportunities on your site which were low effort and high value? Well this post gives you a few ways you can do that! Sweet.

I’m going to be digging around in the recently released search queries report in Google Webmaster Tools:

Step 1 – Gathering The Fruit

The first thing we need to do is gather all the fruit (aka keyphrases). So within GWT select search queries and select just "web" queries and in this case I’ve selected "United States" since that’s the main target market for SEOmoz. The more we can narrow this down the better data we get, if we leave image search etc in there and leave countries like Serbia in there the less accurate our data will be:

Once we have filtered the data we then want to download the data to Excel:

Step 2 – Identify The Low Hanging Fruit

Once we have the data in Excel we can do some monkeying around to get some meaningful insights. When you download the data you will be presented with a lot of dummy data like this:

 So I run a find and replace on the following two items:

  1. Find "<10" and replace with 1
  2. Find "-" and replace with 0

Be sure to only run these over columns B,C,D to avoid stripping out anything from your queries column in A!

Now, once we have this data it will depend on the number of impressions and number of keyphrases how exactly you want to slice the data. Analysing the data for SEOmoz I found that selecting all avg positions that were not equal to 1 and impressions over 200 gave me a sample set of 97 keyphrases to look at which wouldn’t take very long at all to whiz through and look at. If you have more time or if you have more keyphrases you might want to get a longer or shorter list.

 

As I mentioned this gives me a list of 97 keyphrases for the SEOmoz site. Let’s take a look at what some of those opportunities are!

An Example: SEOmoz’s Low Hanging Fruit

In this post I not only wanted to show you how to get the data but also to give you an insight into what kinds of actions you could take and what sorts of keyphrases you might look at so I ran the above process for the SEOmoz site and found the following low hanging fruit. Bear in mind that there weren’t that many really easy wins in the data since SEOmoz generally has fairly good SEO (unsurprisingly!). Still, it gives you an idea of the thought process.

Keyphrase: SEO   |   Ranking: 9.4   |   Impressions: 49,500   |   Clicks: 590

Ranking URL: http://www.seomoz.org

Now, I’ve shot myself in the foot a little here by picking a keyphrase which isn’t really a low hanging fruit, it’s actually a highly competitive keyphrase! That said, it’s useful information to have. Without having rank tracking set up for the site it instantly tells me that SEOmoz are highly competitive for this term, especially as some of the sites that rank above them are Google and Wikipedia. That said, there’s room for improvement. Maybe time for some more badge-bait Rand?!

Keyphrase: Social media marketing  |   Ranking: 7.9   |   Impressions: 8,100   |   Clicks: 320

Ranking URL: http://www.seomoz.org/article/social-media-marketing-tactics

Again, this is a highly competitive keyphrase but one which I feel SEOmoz could perform better for. The current ranking is working ok for them but could certainly improve dramatically if they could shift the ranking from 7.9 into the top 3. Digging around we see that the page is linked internally from every page in the navigation with good anchor text and it has a total of 255 root domains linking to the page so there’s clearly a fair amount of work already done here. That said, I feel like there’s an opportunity waiting since SEOmoz links out to lots of other sites from here and most of those blogs will likely link back to the SEOmoz guide if there was a nicely written email. Incidentally, if you’re looking for a link from SEOmoz and have a top notch guide for one of the sites which doesn’t have any resources attached then get in touch! So long as you link back to the page ;-)

Also, BONUS TIP – while researching backlinks in this space I stumbled across the fact that Amazon authors can get links from Amazon.com check out Darren Rowse on Amazon and then compare to Rand Fishkin on Amazon and you’ll see that Rand has missed an opportunity to get blog posts imported and hence get clean followed links from Amazon. Sweet!

Keyphrase: What is seo  |   Ranking: 3.9   |   Impressions: 1,900   |   Clicks: 210

Ranking URL: http://guides.seomoz.org/beginners-guide-to-search-engine-optimization (Note here that this URL isn’t reported in GWT, it’s the old beginner’s guide URL which now redirects but the same keyphrase stands).

Here, I see the answer being a little easier than the above keyphrases. The term is less competitive and the title of the page doesn’t even mention "what is seo"! My actions would be to reword the title tag to be "What is SEO? The Free Beginner’s Guide to SEO from SEOmoz" and to mention "What is SEO" on the page at least once (currently it only mentions "what is search engine optimisation" and although Google knows they’re the same phrase I’d still like to see the exact phrase on the page somewhere). Also, there is no navigation link on the site to the beginner’s guide so slipping a few links into the next few blog posts with the anchor text "what is seo" will help boost the rankings for that phrase.

Keyphrase: Free seo tools  |   Ranking: 4.2   |   Impressions: 480   |   Clicks: 73

Ranking URL: http://www.seomoz.org/tools

The term "seo tools" is fiercely competitive but the "free seo tools" term seems like it would be a lot easier to go after, in fact SEOmoz is one of only 2 of the top 10 results which doesn’t mention the term free in the title tag of the page. This could be rectified easily and in addition to that the page doesn’t even mention "free seo tools" on the page. Personally, since this is something people search for I’d be tempted to re-des
ign the page to add a "Free SEO Tools" sub-header to differentiate between the free and PRO tools. That way it’s a good user experience and also gets the phrase on the page.

Keyphrase: Keyword research  |   Ranking: 19   |   Impressions: 110   |   Clicks: 12

Ranking URL: http://www.seomoz.org/blog/10-steps-to-advanced-keyword-research

Note here that the impression numbers are so low because the page is ranking 2nd page. Not having a page ranking in the top 10 here is a mistake for SEOmoz I think (sorry, I mean opportunity!). The correct page is clearly the page on keyphrase research from the new beginner’s guide and the best way to make that page rank is to throw some more internal links to the page. Currently there are basically no internal links to that page except from other beginner’s guide pages. Linking to it from elsewhere should be able to get that page ranking. One idea to help get internal links to pages of the beginner’s guide would be to automatically link to the keyword research page from any blog post within the keyphrase research category. That way it would essentially get more deep links internally to the individual pages of the beginner’s guide.

A Data Warning

A warning here that I’m still not sure how much I trust this impression and click data. I wrote a post over on Distilled about how the reported numbers are way out from analytics numbers. To be honest, if I was doing SEO full-time for SEOmoz I’d like to think I’d have better resources of keyphrase research, ranking data and visitor numbers but using Google’s webmaster tools search queries report can be a nice quick way to identify keyphrase opportunities for a site which you’re less familiar with or for which you don’t have these things set up.

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Posted by randfish

In 1997, Google’s founders created an algorithmic method to determine importance and popularity based on several key principles:

  • Links on the web can be interpreted as votes that are cast by the source for the target
  • All votes are, initially, considered equal
  • Over the course of executing the algorithm on a link graph, pages which receive more votes become more important
  • More important pages cast more important votes
  • The votes a page can cast are a function of that page’s importance, divided by the number of votes/links it casts

That algorithm, of course, was PageRank, and it changed the course of web search, providing tremendous value to Google’s early efforts around quality and relevancy in results. As knowledge of PageRank spread, those with a vested interest in influencing the search rankings (SEOs) found ways to leverage this information for their websites and pages.

But, Google didn’t stand still or rest on their laurels in the field of link analysis. They innovated, leveraging signals like anchor text, trust, hubs & authorities, topic modeling and even human activity to influence the weight a link might carry. Yet, unfortunately, many in the SEO field are still unaware of these changes and how they impact external marketing and link acquisition best practices.

In this post, I’m going to walk through ten principles of link valuation that can be observed, tested and, in some cases, have been patented. I’d like to extend special thanks to Bill Slawski from SEO By the Sea, whose recent posts on Google’s Reasonable Surfer Model and What Makes a Good Seed Site for Search Engine Web Crawls? were catalysts (and sources) for this post.

As you read through the following 10 issues, please note that these are not hard and fast rules. They are, from our perspective, accurate based on our experiences, testing and observation, but as with all things in SEO, this is opinion. We invite and strongly encourage readers to test these themselves. Nothing is better for learning SEO than going out and experimenting in the wild.

#1 – Links Higher Up in HTML Code Cast More Powerful Votes

Link Valuation of Higher vs. Lower Links

Whenever we (or many other SEOs we’ve talked to) conduct tests of page or link features in (hopefully) controlled environments on the web, we/they find that links higher up in the HTML code of a page seem to pass more ranking ability/value than those lower down. This certainly fits with the recently granted Google patent application – Ranking Documents Based on User Behavior and/or Feature Data, which suggested a number of items that may considered in the way that link metrics are passed.

Higher vs. Lower Links Principle Makes Testing Tough

Those who’ve leveraged testing environments also often struggle against the power of the "higher link wins" phenomenon, and it can take a surprising amount of on-page optimization to overcome the power the higher link carries.

#2 – External Links are More Influential than Internal Links

Internal vs. External Links

There’s little surprise here, but if you recall, the original PageRank concept makes no mention of external vs. internal links counting differently. It’s quite likely that other, more recently created metrics (post-1997) do reward external links over internal links. You can see this in the correlation data from our post a few weeks back noting that external mozRank (the "PageRank" sent from external pages) had a much higher correlation with rankings than standard mozRank (PageRank):

Correlation of PageRank-Like Metrics

I don’t think it’s a stretch to imagine Google separately calculating/parsing out external PageRank vs. Internal PageRank and potentially using them in different ways for page valuation in the rankings.

#3 – Links from Unique Domains Matters More than Links from Previously Linking Sites

Domain Diversity of Links

Speaking of correlation data, no single, simple metric is better correlated with rankings in Google’s results than the number of unique domains containing an external link to a given page. This strongly suggests that a diversity component is at play in the ranking systems and that it’s better to have 50 links from 50 different domains than to have 500 more links from a site that already links to you. Curiously again, the original PageRank algorithm makes no provision for this, which could be one reason sitewide links from domains with many high-PageRank pages worked so well in those early years after Google’s launch.

#4 – Links from Sites Closer to a Trusted Seed Set Pass More Value

Trust Distance from Seed Set

We’ve talked previously about TrustRank on SEOmoz and have generally reference the Yahoo! research paper – Combating Webspam with TrustRank. However, Google’s certainly done plenty on this front as well (as Bill covers here) and this patent application on selecting trusted seed sites certainly speaks to the ongoing need and value of this methodology. Linkscape’s own mozTrust score functions in precisely this way, using a PageRank-like algorithm that’s biased to only flow link juice from trusted seed sites rather than equally from across the web.

#5 – Links from "Inside" Unique Content Pass More Value than Those from Footers/Sidebar/Navigation

Link Values Based on Position in Content

Papers like Microsoft’s VIPS (Vision Based Page Segmentation), Google’s Document Ranking Based on Semantic Distance, and the recent Reasonable Surfer stuff all suggest that valuing links from content more highly than those in sidebars or footers can have net positive impacts on avoiding spam and manipulation. As webmasters and SEOs, we can certainly attest to the fact that a lot of paid links exist in these sections of sites and that getting non-natural links from inside content is much more difficult.

#6 – Keywords in HTML Text Pass More Value than those in Alt Attributes of Linked Images

HTML Link Text vs. Alt Attributes

This one isn’t covered in any papers or patents (to my knowledge), but our testing has shown (and testing from others supports) that anchor text carried through HTML is somehow more potent or valued than that from alt attributes in image links. That’s not to say we should run out and ditch image links, badges or the alt attributes they carry. It’s just good to be aware that Google seems to have this bias (perhaps it will be temporary).

#7 – Links from More Important, Popular, Trusted Sites Pass More Value (even from less important pages)

Link Value Based on Domain

We’ve likely all experienced the sinking feeling of seeing a competitor with fewer and what appear to be links from less powerful pages outranking us. This may be somewhat explained by the value of a domain to pass along value via a link that may not be fully reflected in page-level metrics. It can also help search engines to combat spam and provide more trusted results in general. If links from sites that rarely link to junk pass significantly more than those whose link practices and impact on the web overall may be questionable, they can much better control quality.

NOTE: Having trouble digging up the papers/patents on this one; I’ll try to revisit and find them tomorrow.

#8 – Links Contained Within NoScript Tags Pass Lower (and Possibly No) Value

Noscript Tag Links

Over the years, this phenomenon has been reported and contradicted numerous times. Our testing certainly suggested that noscript links don’t pass value, but that may not be true in every case. It is why we included the ability to filter noscript in Linkscape, but the quantity of links overall on the web inside this tag is quite small.

#9 – A Burst of New Links May Enable a Document to Overcome "Stronger" Competition Temporarily (or in Perpetuity)

Temporal Link Values

Apart from even Google’s QDF (Query Deserves Freshness) algorithm, which may value more recently created and linked-to content in certain "trending" searches, it appears that the engine also uses temporal signals around linking to both evaluate spam/manipulation and reward pages that earn a large number of references in a short period of time. Google’s patent on Information Retrieval Based on Historical Data first suggested the use of temporal data, but the model has likely seen revision and refinement since that time.

#10 – Pages that Link to WebSpam May Devalue the Other Links they Host

Spam and its Impact on Link Value

I was fascinated to see Richard Baxter’s own experiments on this in his post – Google Page Level Penalty for Comment Spam. Since then, I’ve been keeping an eye on some popular, valuable blog posts that have received similarly overwhelming spam and, low and behold, the pattern seems verifiable. Webmasters would be wise to keep up to date on their spam removal to avoid arousing potential ranking penalties from Google (and the possible loss of link value).


But what about classic "PageRank" – the score of which we get a tiny inkling from the Google toolbar’s green pixels? I’d actually surmise that while many (possibly all) of the features about links discussed above make their way into the ranking process, PR has stayed relatively unchanged from its classic concept. My reasoning? SEOmoz’s own mozRank, which correlates remarkably well  with toolbar PR (off on avg. by 0.42 w/ 0.25 being "perfect" due to the 2 extra significant digits we display) and is calculated with very similar intuition to that of the original PageRank paper. If I had to guess (and I really am guessing), I’d say that Google’s maintained classic PR because they find the simple heuristic useful for some tasks (likely including crawling/indexation priority), and have adopted many more metrics to fit into the algorithmic pie.

As always, we’re looking forward to your feedback and hope that some of you will take up the challenge to test these on your own sites or inside test environments and report back with your findings.

p.s. I finished this post at nearly 3am (and have a board meeting tomorrow), so please excuse the odd typo or missed link. Hopefully Jen will take a red pen to this in the morning!

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