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According to Matt Cutts, speaking at a recent PubCon, Google will be looking at why exact domain matches rank so well. For example, if you have a site at blue-widgets.com it may rank a bit too well for the keyword phrase [blue widgets].

Curious.

Don’t Google know? ;)

More likely, Matt would not make a concrete statement, one way or the other. “Yes, exact Match domains rank better!”, is not something Matt is likely to say.

Secondly, the implication is that exact match domains are a problem.

Why Use Exact Match Domain Names

Exact match domains names, as the name suggests, are domain names that match the search keyword term. i.e. Hotels.com, shoes.net, planetickets.org etc.

Is it a good idea to adopt this strategy for SEO? Ask ten different SEOs and you’ll likely get ten different answers.

On the plus side, an exact match may help you target one, specific keyword phrase. Your link text and domain name match up naturally. The domain name will likely be highlighted in Google’s search results, thus giving the listing more visibility. There may be ranking advantages, depending on who you ask.

On the negative side, an exact match only “helps” you target one keyword. It may be too generic for wider applications, such as brand building. Exact match domains may be over-hyped, and not worth a premium. There are, after all, many domains ranking #1 that aren’t exact match, so it is debatable how much SEO advantage they actually provide, particularly as Google keeps pushing brand.

Is There A Problem With Exact Match Domains?

So why would Matt imply exact match domain names might be a problem?

It is understandable that some in the SEO community – perhaps an SEO working on client sites, or those who don’t own any exact match domains and see others ranking above them – would have a vested interest in making a noise about the competition. If webmasters make enough noise about it, then Matt Cutts may feel a need to respond.

The supposed ranking power of exact match is probably a red herring. The problem Google may be hinting at is that exact match may be more likely to be involved with spam, thin affiliate, or other low value content than other types of domains. In other words, it becomes a quality signal.

If that is the case – and I’m not saying it is – then that may be the reason Google would look closer at exact match domains, not the fact that a domain matching a keyword is somehow evil.

Because it isn’t.

There is nothing wrong with owning an exact match domain.

Should You Buy Exact Match Domain Names?

Aaron covered this question in an earlier post, Why Exact Match Domains Aren’t As Important As Many SEO’s Believe.

In summary, it depends.

It comes down to business fundamentals. If you’re trying to build a unique brand, and resulting keyword stream, then an exact match domain name will be a hindrance rather than a help. You’ll forever be competing with generic search traffic. Keyword domains names aren’t particularly memorable.

The premium that an exact-match domain name commands, when sold on the after-market, may not be worth it. You don’t need an exact-match domain name to rank well, so the money may be better spent getting a new domain name to rank. Or, alternatively, you could buy an existing site that already ranks well for your keyword, and others, for similar money as an inflated exact match domain.

Finally, if you’re competing with a clear market leader, then generic isn’t going to help you much. i.e. owning searchengine.com isn’t going to make Google lose any sleep. You may also be over-looking an opportunity to differentiate your offering against the market leader in terms of brand. Think Blekko vs searchengine.com.

SEO Book.com – Learn. Rank. Dominate.

Interesting little snippet from Mr Cutts:

“Matt recommends SEOs do not “chase the algorithm” and instead try to predict where Google will be going in the future”. Matt was addressing PubCon.

Good advice, methinks.

Trying to predict where Google is going is something we do a lot of at SEOBook.com. Whilst no one has a crystal ball, it’s good practice to keep one eye on the search horizon.

So, where do we think Google might be heading?

Google Will Continue To Dominate Search

Easy one, huh.

Their biggest competitors appear clueless when it comes to search. Bing may make some inroads. Maybe. It’s hard to imagine anyone eating Google’s lunch when it comes to search, for many years to come.

Is Facebook a threat? I doubt it. Search is difficult, and I can see no reason why Facebook – which has a media focus – could own the search channel any more than Yahoo could.

Search is, after all, an infrastructure problem. Google’s infrastructure would be very difficult to replicate.

Google Won’t Be Doing All That Much About Blackhat Sites

A search result set only really contains spam if the Google users think it contains spam i.e. they don’t see the answer they were expecting.

The fact a website may fall outside Google’s guidelines might get competing webmasters’ knickers in a knot, but it probably doesn’t matter that much to Google, or anyone else.

Even though Matt Cutts says Google will devote more resources to this, I suspect Google’s efforts will largely remain focused on outright deception i.e. misrepresentation, hijacking and malware.

The Web Reflects Power Structures

We can forget the San Fran techno-hippy ethos of the web. It will not be a free-for-all democracy, if it ever was. History shows us that power tries to centralize control in order to maintain it.

Google may try to keep users on Google for longer. They do this by owning more and more verticals, and extracting data and reformatting it. When they send visitors away from Google, they’ll try to do so more and more on their own terms. Watch very carefully what type of sites Google rewards, as opposed to what they may say they reward.

Expect less competition in the market as a result. Some people are already getting angry about it.

Be Where Your Users Are

Google follows users. So do Facebook. Anywhere your users are, you’ve got to be there, too. On Google Maps. On YouTube. Wherever and whenever. Think beyod your website. Think in terms of getting your data out there.

As Rich Skrenta pointed out in a recent interview:

Social media can drive tons of attention, awareness and traffic. But the search box is the best way to navigate to stuff you want. Now what will drive those results – if I type in “pizza”, what should I get? The answer can be very different depending on whether the results are coming from the web, Yelp, or Facebook. So I guess my answer is that I still see search being the core way to navigate, but I think what gets searched is going to get a lot more structured and move away from simple keyword matches against unstructured web pages

A Shift To Localization

Microsoft Research found that people tend to organize their memories in geographic terms i.e. where they were when something happened.

If you want to know where Google is heading, then watch Marissa Meyer. Marissa has been responsible for much of what you see in Google in terms of how it is organized. Marissa has just moved to head of Geographic and Location Services.

Google Earth. Google Maps. Google Local. Google Street View. Mobile location data and targeting. Expect more data to be organized around locality.

Everything Changes, But Not That Fast

Aaron talked about TechCrunch’s tendancy to over-hype new developments:

“…but this changes everything…”

SEO hasn’t changed all that much in years. We still find an audience (keyword research), we publish content, we build links to the content, and then we repeat it all over again.

The changes come around the edges, especially for big companies like Google. There is a lot of risk to Google in making radical changes. Shareholders don’t like it. Why risk breaking something that makes so much money, and is so popular?

The biggest changes in the way we do things on the web are probably going to come from the upstarts. They’re probably hard at work in their garage right now.

SEO Book.com – Learn. Rank. Dominate.

Posted by Paddy_Moogan

There has been quite a lot of discussion lately about the use of rel=canonical and we’ve certainly seen a decent amount of Q&A from SEOmoz members on the subject. Dr. Pete of course blogged about his rel-canonical experiment which had somewhat interesting results and Lindsay wrote a great guide to rel=canonical. Additionally, there seem to be a few common problems that are along the following lines -

  • When should I use a rel canonical tag over a 301?
  • Is there a way that the rel canonical tag can hurt me?
  • When should I not use the canonical tag?
  • What if I can’t get developers to implement 301s?

I’m going to attempt to answer these questions here.

The 301 Redirect – When and How to Use it

A 301 redirect is designed to help users and search engines find pieces of content that have moved to a new URL. Adding a 301 redirect means that the content of the page has permanently moved somewhere else.

Source: http://www.ragepank.com/images/301-redirect.jpg

What it does for users

Users will probably never notice that the URL redirects to a new one unless they spot the change in URL in their browser. Even if they do spot it, as long as the content is still what they were originally looking for, they’re unlikely to be affected.  So in terms of keeping visitors happy, 301 redirects are fine as long as you are redirecting to a URL which doesn’t confuse them.

What it does for the search engines

In theory, if a search engine finds a URL with a 301 redirect on it, they will follow the redirect to the new URL then de-index the old URL. They should also pass across any existing link juice to the new URL, although they probably will not pass 100% of the link juice or the anchor text.  Google have said that a 301 can pass anchor text, but they don’t guarantee it.

In theory a search engine should also remove the old page from their index so that their users can’t find them.  This can take a little bit of time but usually can take no longer than a few weeks.  I’ve seen pages removed within a few days on some clients but its never set in stone.

Where is can go wrong

Not knowing your 301s from your 302s

The classic one which I’ve seen more than once, is developers getting mixed up and using a 302 redirect instead. The difference with this is that a 302 is meant to be used when content is temporalily moved somewhere else. So the link juice and anchor text is unlikely to be passed across.  I highlighted an example of this in a previous blog post, if you go to http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/ you’ll see a 302 is used.  I first spotted this several months ago and it still hasn’t been fixed and I’d assume that this isn’t a genuine temporary redirect.

Redirecting all pages in one go to a single URL

Another common mistake I see involves site migration. An example being if your website has 500 pages which are moving somewhere else. You should really put 500 301 redirects on these pages which point to the most relevant page on the new site. However I’ve often see people redirect all of these 500 pages to a single URL, usually the homepage. Although the intention may not be manipulative, there have been cases of people doing this to try and consolidate all the link juice from loads of pages into one page, to make that page stronger. This can sometimes put up a flag to Google who may come and take a closer look at whats going on.

Matt Cutts talks about this in this Webmaster Tools video:

When you should use a 301

Moving Sites

You should certainly use 301 redirects if you are moving your website to a new location or changing your URLs to a new structure. In this situation, you don’t want users or search engines to see the old site, especially if the move is happening because of a new design or structural changes.  Google give clear guidelines here on this and advise the use of 301s in this situation.

Expired Content

You should also use a 301 if you have expired content on your website such as old terms and conditions, old products or news items which are no longer relevant and of no use to your users. There are a few things to bear in mind though when removing old content from your website - 

  • Check your analytics to see if the content gets any search traffic, if it does, do you mind potentially losing that traffic if you remove the content?
  • Is there another page on the site which has very similar content that you could send the user to?  If so, use a 301 and point it to the similar page so that you stand a chance of retaining the traffic you already get
  • Is the content likely to become useful in the future?  For example if you have an ecommerce site and want to remove a product that you no longer sell, is there a chance of it coming back at any point?

Multiple Versions of the Homepage

This is another common mistake.  Potentially a homepage URL could be access through the following means, depending on how it has been built -

http://seomoz.org
http://www.seomoz.org/home.html
http://www.seomoz.org/index.html

If the homepage can be accessed via these type of URLs, they should 301 to the correct URL which in this case would be www.seomoz.org.  

Quick caveat – the only exception would be if these multiple versions of the homepage served a unique purpose, such as being shown to users who are logged in or have cookies dropped.  In this case, you’d be better to use rel=canonical instead of a 301.

The Rel=Canonical Tag – When and How to Use it

This is a relatively new tool for SEOs to use, it was first announced back in February 2009.  Wow was it really that long ago?!

As I mentioned above, we get a lot of Q&A around the canonical tag and I can see why.  We’ve had some horror stories of people putting the canonical tag on all their pages pointing to their homepage (like Dr Pete did) and Google aggressively took notice of it and de-indexed most of the site.  This is surprising as Google say that they may take notice of the tag but do not promise.  Howev
er experience has shown that they take notice of it most of the time – sometimes despite pages not being duplicates which was the whole point of the tag!

When to use Rel=Canonical

Where 301s may not be possible

There are unfortunate situations where the implementation of 301 redirects can be very tricky, perhaps the developers of the site don’t know how to do it (I’ve seen this), perhaps they just don’t like you, perhaps the CMS doesn’t let you do it.  Either way, this situation does happen.  Technically, a rel=canonical tag is a bit easier to implement as it doesn’t involve doing anything server side.  Its just a case of editing the <head> tag on a page.

Rand illustrated this quite well in this diagram from his very first post on rel=canonical:

Multiple Ways of Navigating to a Page

This is a common problem on large ecommerce websites.  Some categories and sub-categories can be combined in the URL, for example you could have -

www.phoneshop.com/smartphone/3G
www.phoneshop.com/3G/smartphone

In theory, both of these pages could return the same set of results and therefore a duplicate page would be seen.  A 301 wouldn’t be appropriate as you’d want to keep the URL in the same format as what someone has navigated.  Therefore a rel=canonical would work fine in this situation.

Again, if this situation can be avoided in the first place, then thats the ideal solution as opposed to using the canonical tag.

When dynamic URLs are generated on the fly

By this I mean URLs which tend to be database driven and can vary depending on how the user navigates through the site.  The classic example is session IDs which are different every time for every user, so it isn’t practical to add a 301 to each of these.  Another example could be if you add tracking code to the end of URLs to measure paths to certain URLs or clicks on certain links, such as:

www.example.com/widgets/red?source=footer-nav

When Not to Use Rel=Canonical

On New Websites 

I’ve seen a few instances where rel=canonical is being used on brand new websites – this is NOT what the tag was designed for.  If you are in the fortunate position of helping out with the structure of a new website, take the chance to make sure you avoid situations where you could get duplicate content.  Ensure that they don’t happen right from the start.  Therefore there should be no need for the rel=canonical tag.

On Pagination – maybe!  At least use with caution

This is a tough one and unless you really know what you’re doing, I’d avoid using rel=canonical on pagination pages.  To me, these are not strictly duplicate pages and you could potentially stop products deeper within the site from being found by Google.  This seems to have been confirmed by John Mu in this Google Webmaster thread.  He gives some interesting alternatives such as using javascript based navigation for users and loading all products onto one page.  

Having said that, John Mu has made a point of not ruling it out totally.  He just advises caution, which should be the case for any implementation of the canonical tag really – except if you’re Dr Pete! 

Across your entire site to one page

Just a quick note on this one as this is one way which using the rel=canonical tag can hurt you.  As I’ve mentioned above, Dr Pete did this as an experiment and killed most of his site.  He set the rel=canonical tag across his entire site pointing back to his homepage and Google de-indexed a large chunk of his website as a result.  The following snapshot from Google Analytics pretty much sums up the effect:

Conclusion

In summary, you should use caution when using 301s or the canonical tag.  These type of changes have the potential to go wrong if you don’t do them right and can hurt your website.  If you’re not 100% confident, do some testing on a small set of URLs first and see what happens.  If everything looks ok, roll out the changes slowly across the rest of the site.

In terms of choosing the best method, its best to bear in mind what you want for the users and what you want them to still see.  Then think about the search engines and what content you want them to index and pass authority and link juice to.

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SEOmoz Daily SEO Blog

There is little doubt that having a strong, professionally-designed and active Facebook page is important for businesses, particularly in the retail and service segments on a local level.

For high-end, long-term sales such as automotive, insurance, and real estate, is it also prudent to establish a relationship profile to profile as a “friend” of customers?

Most would say that an individual’s Facebook profile is personal and isn’t the right venue to connect with customers. A few (myself included) believe that it is a good idea to establish a business Facebook profile as a stand-alone unit for marketing, sales, and customer service purposes. Here’s why:

Large Investments Are Best Secured Long-Term

When people go to a grocery store, they may be buying meat from the butcher or checking out with the clerk. The idea of becoming friends with these people either in real life or on Facebook is not common. We are friendly, but we rarely become a “friend” who shares thoughts, pictures of the family, etc.

Large purchases as well as long-term service relationships (your favorite barber, for example) are often people that we become friends in real life. It is common to go to the same nail tech for years to the point that they know your husband and kids’ names. In such instances, creating a friendship is not uncommon. It should follow that becoming friends on Facebook may be natural.

For long-term retail purchases such as buying a home, we often have relationships and stay in contact with our Realtor beyond the sale. Realtors, car salespeople, lawyers, insurance agents, and the like often attribute a large part of their business to return and referral business. Facebook would seem to be the perfect place to stay in touch and share without having to pick up the phone every month or go to little Pat’s Bar Mitzvah.

Success Through Tagging

Particularly in real estate and automotive sales where purchases of tangible, long-lasting items occur, the ability to take pictures and tag them with on Facebook to the buyer can be a very powerful tool.

On Facebook, what you say on your business Facebook page is important, but what is said about you on real people’s Facebook profiles is much more important. Word of mouth is a powerful way to build a reputation, expand branding, and increase exposure. “Word of Sharing” on Facebook is similar but can be even more potent.

Imagine taking a picture of John and Sally Smith after they just purchased their first home. If they are active on Facebook they will probably share this information on there, but it doesn’t hurt to help that process along and include your own congratulatory message. On your Facebook page, you can post this image but there is no way to attach it to them if you aren’t friends with them on your profile.

Creating a business profile either separate from your personal profile or instead of it will give you the opportunity to become friends with your happy customers. As a friend, you will be able to tag them in the image of them standing in front of their new home. Once tagged, it appears on their wall as well as emerging into the feed of all of their friends. This can generate conversation, buzz, and an all-important link to your business page.

This video below, a training video for clients of TK Power Social, explains the process as it pertains to the automotive industry, but this process can be duplicated in any industry.

Don’t Be Creepy

One thing that must be said about the practice of having a professional Facebook profile – you can’t spam with it. When people become your friend on Facebook, there is a trust that is established that you will not be Mr. Marketer constantly filling their wall with promotional links.

Your business page is perfect for promotions and establishing engagement. Your business profile should be for engagement only. Congratulations to those who buy, reactions to local or brand-related news, and the occasional “can’t wait for Stan’s BBQ at this weekend’s big sale” are the only things you should be posting to this profile.

On the other hand, you should definitely be active with your friends. On Facebook, it’s okay to be a narcissist. Let them be. Respond to them. Answer their questions that they pose to the world. Comment when they post something interesting. Just don’t overdue it. Some may wonder, “What’s my car salesperson doing commenting about how adorable out baby is? We bought the car last year.”

In other words, be active and engaging, but not creepy.

Be Genuine or Don’t Do it

Some people are made for social networking. Others don’t even like people. If you are not a social person in real life, there is a good chance that you won’t be good at social networking even for business. This isn’t 100% the case – in fact, some of the best at social media that I’ve met are extremely shy or cynical in person.

You either care about establishing and maintaining long-term relationships with others or you don’t. Some of the best at sales don’t like to ever talk to a customer again until it’s time for them to buy something else. Others establish relationships that transcend beyond the sale into the bonds of true friendship. Most of us are somewhere in between.

If it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. If you aren’t being genuine, don’t even try. If you are good with people beyond the sale, this may be a way to dramatically increase your business.

You’re Facebook Profile is Portable

This is the ugly advantage of building a business profile, but it should be stated. You are you. Your business Facebook profile is yours. If you quit or get fired and you stay in the same industry but with a different company, you’ll be glad that you made friends and connections through a Facebook profile. Enough said about that.

Arguments?

I’m open. This is a topic that can be polarizing. Many would say that it’s technically against Facebook TOS to have a second profile. Some would say that it should be a Facebook page that you build for yourself to help with your company’s page. Some would say that the ROI is minimal and it would be a waste of time.

If you agree, let me know and give me other pieces of similar advice that I can pass on. If you disagree, let’s hear your arguments. I’m not one who is unwilling to change my mind in the face of strong evidence…

… but it better be compelling.

* * *

Read more about Facebook Marketing here or check out some of our Automotive Social Media packages.


Soshable | Social Media Blog

Posted by Seoteric

Link building is always a hot topic because it is really what makes an SEO campaign work.  Content is important, page and link structure are important, and the url is important, but for competitive search terms, great on-site optimization will only get you so far.  I have had a bit of a love/hate relationship with link building over the years, and I have really started to be a lot more analytical in how I go about building incoming links.

This love story begins at the beginning of 2006.  I was diagnosed with a terminal cancer, but prayerfully enough it turned out to be a large non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma tumor which was treatable. For over six months, I was stuck in a chair and didn’t have the energy to get up an do anything so I spent that time teaching myself about websites and marketing.  I started reading SEO blogs (like SEOmoz and others) to learn what I could.  I figured I might as well put the time to use, right?

Over the coming months, I started my first SEO campaign for my newly built car accessories website.  My target keywords were stupidly competitive – car accessories and aftermarket auto parts and a lot more keywords like them.  I figured if SEO really worked, then I could do it.  I could get ranked for some ridiculously competitive keywords.

I had a good understanding of on-site SEO such as titles, meta tags, content, URLs, and link structure so I built the site to be highly optimized for my keywords.  I found creative ways to get a lot of content on the homepage using ajax and javascript tabs but still keeping the website aesthetically pleasing.  Once the changes were indexed, I made sure that the content in the tabs was indexing properly.  After trying some long tail queries, I found my site’s tabbed content was indexed very well.

The on-site SEO bumped the rankings into the top 100 for car accessories.  It had previously been ranked around 350 or so.  With everything I had done to beef up the on-site SEO, it was still a long way from where I wanted it.  That’s when I started the link building process.  In 2006 I found a lot of info about directory submissions, article marketing, reciprocal linking, buying links, DMOZ, and blogging so I did a little bit of everything.  A little of everything turned into a lot of everything over the next six months, and slowly but surely the rankings began to rise. 

The directory submission process was done with a combination of manual submissions, semi-automated submissions using software, and even some automated submissions.  I used a few directory submitters plus doing a simple Google search for relevant directories and submitted to any and all that didn’t require a payment.  During this process I also started writing how-to articles and submitting them to article directories, blogs, online magazines and journals.  After a few months, the site made it to the first page and traffic started coming in. 

Not long after that I started getting reciprocal link requests, so I exchanged a few links along with way as well.  As traffic picked up, I started getting sales on the website for the first time and my attention was being directed towards sales and customer service instead of SEO.  For about a year, I didn’t do any marketing on the site except write a few articles and syndicate to whoever would publish them.  Sometime in 2008, I checked the rankings and found this.

#1 out of 90,000,000

It had climbed to #1 out of 92,100,000 results. I could not believe it.  Traffic was up over 1000%, and the site was getting literally thousands of unique visitors a month just from this keyword.  I checked the analytics and traffic was up and down and all over the place.  After monitoring this for a few days, I experienced the "Google Dance" with rankings ranging from #1 to #4.  Surprisingly, traffic amounts from positions 2-4 were not even HALF of the amount generated from position #1. 

Jump ahead to June 2010.  The website is ranking between #2 and #5 from day to day for car accessories.  The surprising thing about this case study is that there hasn’t been any additional marketing done to the site since around November 2008.  Even with the low quality nature of directories, article directories, and even some reciprocal incoming links, the ranking has stayed top 5 for a really competitive keyword.   I did take the time to get the website listed in DMOZ, the Google Directory, and a lot of other "good" websites.  Some of the syndicated articles landed on sites like DIY, ehow.com, and other car enthusiasts websites generating some great inbound links.  The site doesn’t get credit for a lot of the low quality links that were acquired early on but I did do a few things right that had some great results.

I mentioned earlier that I am taking a more analytical approach to link building, and after reading a lot of articles, seeing this video about article marketing, and getting a better understanding of how much better Google is at identifying low quality links and websites, I have really changed the way I think about link building.  Much like in the world of content, quality is better than quantity when it comes to obtaining links.  After analyzing my own link building path from 2006 until the present, I came up with a list of best practices to guide my link building moving forward:

  • It is well worth the time to write great content as opposed to lots of decent content.  Some of the best articles I wrote are the ones that attracted the most links and landed on good websites, and one or two were even highlighted in a breaking news story that brought a LOT of referral traffic while it was on the site’s homepage.
  • If you figure out something cool or unique, like getting Pandora to play through a mono bluetooth headset, write about it and keep the content on your site and create a buzz using social media.  Links will surely come.
  • Write content for your own site first.  As Rand points out, you will get the links pointing back at your site for having the original content.
  • Here is one of my favorites – syndicate your RSS feed, not your article content.  This is a philosophical change to the approach I used to have in article marketing.  Instead of publishing your duplicate content everywhere, keep the content on your site and ping services like technorati, twitter, facebook, and anywhere you can publish your site’s feed. Get visitors on your site and then give them an opportunity to bookmark or share your content via social media. 
  • Quality directories are still valid.  I have still seen good success from getting listed in the top human-edited directories, especially local and regional ones.  Avoid the free-for-all sites and focus on the ones that add value to users.
  • Guest Blogging is a new hot-topic which is also worth doing.  As Rand mentioned in this we
    eks WBF video, finding relevant websites to post content to is a good way to get quality inbound links and brand awareness.  In many cases, you can get content for your site as well if you establish a good partnership with a complementary website or blog.
  • Patience is a virtue.  It is hard to not check rankings every day, but there are a lot of other things to do with your valuable time than checking rankings.  I schedule a time once a week to check up on how things are progressing. This keeps me from wasting time each day, and gives me a reason to measure results and dive into analytics at the end of the week.
  • Reciprocal links are not all bad.  It is natural for complementary websites to link to one another, so the emphasis is on relevance.  I will exchange links with relevant and complementary websites, but not with just any site.  You want to make sure you are linking to reputable websites too.
  • Don’t Spam.  Search engines (like Google) mostly update their algorithms to do one of two things: to increase the relevance of the search results and to battle spam in their index. If you keep things relevant and avoid spam tactics, your rankings should remain intact as long as their isn’t a fundamental shift in how websites and pages are ranked.  Up until the recent "May Day" update, all of our sites have actually improved over the past few years with Google updates (The May Day update gave us about a 14% drop in the number of indexed pages, much like with SEOmoz and others).

Four years later, I have a much different approach to marketing, a different approach to life, and a lot of sites doing well in the search results.  Marketing gives me an outlet for my competitive edge which is why I tend to climb the keyword mountains that I do.  I would like to hear how your link building tactics have changed over the years and see how far we have come.   I plan to keep a student’s approach SEO, which continues to prove itself as one of the most frustrating, rewarding, and elusive things in life.  It is (after all) a love story!

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SEOmoz Daily SEO Blog
Post image for Why You Should Care About AT&T’s iPhone Data Plans Even If You Don’t Own an iPhone

While a lot of the attention on AT&T and Apple in the past few weeks has been focused on the release of the iPad and new iPhone,  the elimination of unlimited data plans is an equally important development, especially for website owners and publishers.

Even though the iPhone is meant to render full web pages, research has shown that people still prefer mobile-formatted content on iPhones …

In prior years, AT&T offered unlimited data for a month; however, they maintained that a small percentage of users were using a disproportionate share of data. To compensate for this, they announced two new data plans and eliminated the unlimited plan. As I understand it, existing customers are grandfathered until they renew. Upon renewal, they have to choose. Engadget has an excellent breakdown of the details of the plan.

So what does this mean to website owners and publishers? IMHO if you are a publisher, you really need to evaluate your use of rich media and use of a mobile version of your site. If you think that AT&T dropping the unlimited plan is an aberration, you might want to reconsider that position. While free wifi may be on the rise, it’s not as ubiquitous as many in the valley would have you believe. I can find open free hot spots if I really need one, but it isn’t easy. So it’s not unreasonable to expect consumers to start being more conscious of their data use. Additionally, while smart phones and devices like the iPad, Blackberry, or Android can handle some rich media, studies have shown that many users prefer “lite” or mobile websites when on these devices.

From an SEO perspective, creating a mobile website has a few pitfalls to watch out for. In my experience, it’s best to avoid using a separate subdomain or subfolder for a mobile version; instead, you want to serve a different CSS version or serve modified content based on mobile user agents. Again this strategy is tricky if you don’t want to look like you are cloaking; however, as long as you serve the same content to Google’s mobile crawler as you do to mobile browsers, you will be fine (for more info, see this post from Google’s webmaster central team).

While using Word Press as a CMS has issues, this is one area in which it works to your advantage: there are multiple plugins to help you address the problem. I use WP Touch, but you can also use WP Mobile. I’m sure there are other plugins or adapters for other CMS systems. Make sure the systems can handle mission critical functions like shopping and ordering. In the month I’ve owned my iPad, I’ve made a dozen purchases from my iPad, which I suspect is a growing trend.

To wrap up, here is what I would concentrate on as a publisher:

  • Rethink your use of complex, hard to read layouts that are overflowing with ads or other large-file-size elements and images.
  • Minimize your use of rich media elements to the places where they are most essential. IMHO, at this stage flash is a liability on so many fronts it’s not worth the headache.
  • Avoid using a subdomain or subfolder for mobile content. In addition to being a maintenance point, the potential for duplicate content and split link equity is another liability.
  • Choose your mobile implementation method carefully to avoid creating cloaking issues.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Jilles

This post originally came from Michael Gray who is an SEO Consultant. Be sure not to miss the Thesis WordPress Theme review.

Why You Should Care About AT&T’s iPhone Data Plans Even If You Don’t Own an iPhone


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Michael Gray – Graywolf’s SEO Blog
href="http://api.tweetmeme.com/share?url=http://mashable.com/2010/06/04/dennis-crowley-interview/&service=bit.ly"> width="51" height="61" src="http://api.tweetmeme.com/imagebutton.gif?url=http://mashable.com/2010/06/04/dennis-crowley-interview/" align="right"/> class='feedflare' href="http://www.google.com/reader/link?url=http://mashable.com/2010/06/04/dennis-crowley-interview/&title=What Should Mashable Ask Foursquare CEO Dennis Crowley?&srcTitle=Mashable&srcUrl=http://mashable.com"> src="http://cdn.mashable.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-digg-this/i/gbuzz-feed.png" align="right" /> src="http://cdn.mashable.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/mashable-media-summit-2010.png" align="right" style="margin: 10px">On Tuesday, I’ll be taking the stage at Mashable Media Summit to interview Dennis Crowley, CEO of Foursquare. We’ll have a lot to talk about, including his company’s href="http://mashable.com/2010/05/28/foursquare-checkins/">rapid growth, its slew of recent href="http://mashable.com/2010/06/03/tlc-foursquare-campaign/">media and href="http://mashable.com/2010/03/11/foursquare-starbucks/">brand partnerships, href="http://mashable.com/2010/02/17/pleaserobme/">privacy, and impending href="http://mashable.com/2010/03/09/facebook-location-launch/">competition from Facebook, among other topics.

But we’re sure you have questions, too, so we want to leave a portion of the interview for them. Let us know your questions in one of the following ways:

  • The comments below
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Be sure to use your real identity so we can identify you by name if we ask your question, and please submit your questions by this Monday, June 7. Also, if you aren’t attending the Summit, you can still see the interview along with the rest of the event on our href="http://www.livestream.com/mashable" target="_blank">live stream.

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