Monday, October 31, 2011

AdSense Text Ads Get Title Highlighting

Google announced that it has updated all text AdSense ads to allow for the title color of ads to be changed when the user moves their mouse over a link.

The company says after a period of testing, it found that this actually results in higher earnings for publishers, while also “increasing user and advertising value.”

“As you can imagine, there are numerous combinations of link and background color across the ad units on all publisher pages,” says Stephen Yuan with Google’s AdSense engineering team. “After extensive testing, we have found that the color of the change itself can make a big difference: the wrong shade can even be detrimental to clickthrough rate (CTR). To determine the color that the title link will change to when a user places their mouse cursor over it, we’ll take your chosen title color and find a nearly complementary color on the color wheel. For example, a blue title would change to red. These colors outperformed all the others we tested.”

“We’ll continue to keep studying the effects of color on CTR and ad performance to bring you more enhancements in the future,” adds Yuan.

This week, Google also announced that publishers have access to a new report that allow them to view earnings by ad network.

With the report, you can see a breakdown of impressions, clicks and earnings by Google-certified ad network.

Google Encrypted Search Means No Info For Individual Queries

Webmaster Tools will still provide top keywords

Google announced that it is going to begin encrypting search queries with SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) as the default experience at when you search logged into your Google account. will become

“This is especially important when you’re using an unsecured Internet connection, such as a WiFi hotspot in an Internet cafe,” says Google product manager Evelyn Kao.

There’s a chance that your Google experience will be slower with SSL because the computer your’e using has to establish a secure connection with Google. This is interesting, considering that Google has put so much effort into speeding things up.

It’s worth noting that you can just go to when you’re signed out, and still use encrypted search.

Naturally, webmasters and SEOs are contemplating the effects this will have on search engine optimization and analytics.

Sites visited from Google’s organic listings will be able to tell that the traffic is coming from Google, but they won’t be able to receive info about each individual query. They will, however, receive an aggregated list of the top 1,000 search queries that drove traffic to the site for each of the past 30 days in Webmaster Tools.

“This information helps webmasters keep more accurate statistics about their user traffic,” says Kao. “If you choose to click on an ad appearing on our search results page, your browser will continue to send the relevant query over the network to enable advertisers to measure the effectiveness of their campaigns and to improve the ads and offers they present to you.”

“When a signed in user visits your site from an organic Google search, all web analytics services, including Google Analytics, will continue to recognize the visit as Google ‘organic’ search, but will no longer report the query terms that the user searched on to reach your site,” says Amy Chang on the Google Analytics blog. “Keep in mind that the change will affect only a minority of your traffic. You will continue to see aggregate query data with no change, including visits from users who aren’t signed in and visits from Google ‘cpc’.”

“We are still measuring all SEO traffic. You will still be able to see your conversion rates, segmentations, and more,” she adds. “To help you better identify the signed in user organic search visits, we created the token ‘not provided)’ within Organic Search Traffic Keyword reporting. You will continue to see referrals without any change; only the queries for signed in user visits will be affected. Note that ‘cpc’ paid search data is not affected.”

Google is making the encrypted search available on all of its search properties except for Maps.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

7 SEO Friendly Site Features that Developers Often Miss

Web developers are great: without them, we wouldn't have, well… the web! But unfortunately, a lot of developers can have a bit of a blind-spot when it comes to SEO. While some on-site SEO features almost always come as standard now (ability to edit meta tags, image alt properties, etc.), there are some important areas under the hood that often get missed. Let's have a look…

Analytics (Google or Otherwise)

A decent analytics package is essential for any web marketing effort, both for measuring results and gaining insight into how your site is being found and used. Plus, as any marketeer knows, access to historical data from a site at the beginning of a campaign is almost priceless. And yet, it's amazing how many sites, big and small, are launched without analytics. Get it on there from the get go and get it set up properly!

Semantic URLs

A semantic URL is essentially an address for a page that is human-readable and conveys useful information. An example for a page on "blue widgets" would be:


However, all too often we see pages with addresses such as this:


The reason we see this latter version so often is that it is much easier to implement. The trouble is that it's a disaster for SEO! Although on-page factors are not that important compared to link building, by and large, having keywords in the URL is the single most important part of on-page optimization.

Make sure your developer implements semantic URLs on your site and gives you control over each page's URL – no excuses! Although you don't get penalized for using a non-semantic URL structure, you're missing out on a big opportunity… and changing it after the site has gone live can be a big headache.

XML Sitemaps

Sitemaps don't have a great impact unless your site is on the large side, but they're easy to set up and cost nothing, so are always worth using. It's not a problem to generate these manually (there are several free tools for doing this), but if your site is dynamic or updated often, this can become a real pain pretty quickly.

It's much better for the site's CMS to update the site map automatically whenever the site changes. A lot of packages will do this natively or with the aid of a plugin, but if you're having a custom CMS written, make sure the developer includes this facility.

Controlling Indexation

If you have a large site, Google will almost never index your entire site: they have a percentage cap of the number of your pages that they will keep in the index. Now, discussing how much of the site they decide to index and upon which pages they bestow the honor of indexation is a post for another time, but suffice to say for now that although you definitely can't tell Google which pages to index, you cantell them which pages you definitely don't want indexed. You do this with this meta tag in the head of the page:

  • [meta name="robots" content="noindex,follow" /]

Again, if you've got a small or static site, this isn't a problem to set up manually, but for larger sites you'll need to be able to control this through the CMS. You may even want to develop a strategy for noindexing pages automatically – if they're not getting search traffic anyway, for example. Ideally, yes, we'd like never to have to do this kind of thing, but if Google are only going to index a part of your site anyway, you'd better make sure it's the part that counts.

301 Redirects

Honestly, could this be more important? Unfortunately, a lot of developers don't think so.

If you're migrating from an old site, making sure that pages from the old version are redirected to the new is vital (assuming that the page names or URL structure has changed), but it's also important that your new CMS creates 301s automatically if you remove or change the URL of any page – something that you'll inevitably end up doing if you work actively on your site.

Again, some CMSs do this natively or through plugins, but many don't. If you're having something custom written or your developer is using something off the shelf, make sure it handles 301s for changed pages properly.


Sorting out canonicalization of URLs from the start is another must – you don't want Google to see duplicate content on your site even for an instant, or it'll be reminding you of it through Webmaster Tools for evermore.

The first step is www versus non-www canonicalization. From an SEO perspective, it doesn't matter which you choose, but you have to choose one and stick to it. Implementing it involves just a simple 301 redirect rule and is easy for your developer to do.

The second step is making sure that your CMS, e-commerce package or other platform isn't generating multiple URLs for each page, and isn't adding a lot of extraneous data to URLs. This might sound like a no-brainer, but Magento, for example, makes each page available by three different URLs by default. Checking to see if you have this problem is relatively straightforward – use a tool such as Xenu's Link Sleuth(yes, it's a crazy site) to check the number of pages on your site. If it's way higher than you were expecting, you've got a problem. If you've not fixed this problem before the site goes live, that means a lot of 301 redirects to set up as you rationalise the URL structure.

Lastly, implement the canonical tag itself. At it's most basic level, this tag tells Google what the definitive URL of a page should be. If your CMS definitely isn't generating multiple URLs per page, it is still worth implementing, as it will help prevent potential problems caused by incoming links with extra URL data in them (e.g., tracking tags from mailing list software, etc.). The canonical tag is dead easy to implement and should appear on every page. It looks like this:

  • [link rel="canonical" href="" /]

Google is expanding the remit of this humble tag over time as well, so it's worth keeping an eye on what you can and should be doing with it – it all helps with Google's indexation of your site.

Site Speed

Hardcore coders are often obsessed with speed. This is a good thing, as site speed is now a part of Google's ranking algorithm (although perhaps not a large part… yet). The problem is that the main issues to do with a site's performance are not to do with the code itself (at least not for most smaller sites), but rather to do with things such as HTTP request optimization, combining and compressing external files, loading JavaScript asynchronously, using cookie-less domains, etc.

If all that sounds pretty technical… well, it is. Luckily, you don't need to understand how to do it – you just need to ask your developer to look after it for you. If they're not already on the ball with site speed, a number of free tools will audit a site's performance and make recommendations for improvement, such as the Google's Page Speed suite. You may also want to ask your developer about using a content delivery network such as CloudFlare. Going to town on your site's speed really can make a surprisingly big difference!

Summing Up

Making sure that your developer gets these basics sorted right from the beginning will get your on-site SEO running like clockwork, leaving you free to concentrate on building links and great content. None of them are optional!

Convert Visitors with Content

Everyone wants visitors to convert. Depending on the organization, that could mean bookmarking the site, subscribing to the newsletter, purchasing the product or service, registering for an account, donating to the charity, or what have you. But visitors won't make the effort unless you make an effort.

What exactly do I mean by that? Stoney deGeyter uses the analogy of being in the middle of a brick-and-mortar store without any sales assistants around to help. “Looking up and down isles, not finding an available employee within driving distance, I get the urge to shout, 'I'm going to steal something!' just to see if anyone cares.” I can do him one better than that. Stuck in a store with employees that won't help, I'll walk right out the door and go visit their competitors, who are more than willing to give me all the assistance I need.

So think about that for a second. If I'll go to the effort of walking out of a brick-and-mortar store that won't help me and drive to one that will, how fast do you think I'll click away from an unhelpful website and seek out one that gives me what I need? And how likely is it that the website I find belongs to your biggest competitor?

With a website, you can't be right there in the flesh to answer every question. But you can give a visitor the information they need to make a good decision. Indeed, if you take a look at Amazon, perhaps the biggest online retailer there is, you'll see that their product pages offer visitors a lot of useful content. Indeed, deGeyter notes that adding content to your site can dramatically improve your conversions.

Some sites, according to deGeyter, seem to think that content is the barrier that stands between the customer and the checkout page. I honestly don't know where that idea got started, but what you're really taking away when you remove the content is the helpful sales associate who walks your visitor through making an informed decision – and turns them into a satisfied customer.

How does adding content to your site accomplish this goal? We'll start with the most obvious point. When you explain the value of your products and services with unique content on your home, category, sub-category and product pages, you answer your visitors' questions. They need to know whether or not your product will suit their needs before they buy it; if they don't know that, they won't buy it.

Providing your visitors with more information helps in less tangible ways as well. When you provide a lot of well-organized information about your offerings, you appear more credible in your visitors' eyes. You give them more reason to trust you, and we all know we're more likely to buy from someone we can trust. We're also more likely to buy if we have enough information to see that making the purchase would be a wise decision – and the more expensive the offering, the more information we need.

Providing enough content to help a visitor make an informed decision works well as a long-term strategy. A visitor who buys from you will remember that they had a good experience, because you helped them make up their mind. They'll be inclined to do business with you again. If one of their friends needs a product or service that you can provide, they'll refer them to you. Even a visitor who doesn't buy from you will remember that you provided plenty of content, and is likely to come back when they do need your products or services. They might even tell their friends about your site. After all, you've proven that you're credible by the amount of information your site provides.

If you want to make sure you remain credible, though, you need to provide not only lots of information about your products and services, but the right kind of information. If your blue widgets aren't waterproof, for example, and your customers might take them out in the rain, you'd better mention it up front. As deGeyter explains, “Being up front with both pros and cons, benefits and possible side-effects, allows the customer to weigh each against that of other products or even your competitors. Short of that information you risk having an unhappy customer or no customer at all, when all that was missing was the correct information they needed to pull the trigger on a purchase.”

By including the pros and cons, you're not just adding important content to your site; you're showing your visitors that you're open and honest, and worthy of doing business with them. If you do this, according to deGeyter, your visitors and customers will be more open with you. “This will give you better opportunities to meet their needs, if not now, at some later point down the road with a new product or service.”

Building up your content is a strategy for the long haul. It's not going to happen overnight, but it will pay dividends both now and down the road. Good luck!

Link Building With Articles

There are many different ways that a link can be built. One that is often overlooked but which can have huge rewards is writing and submitting articles. The reason article writing and submission is arguably one of the best of the link building methods is that it not only functions as a link building exercise but also a traffic source. Honestly, can you think of a better use of your online marketing time than a tactic that provides for traffic and which can help improve your search engine visibility? Neither can I.

That being said, simply whipping off an article and putting it up on your site is not going to do it. There are a few crucial steps to making the most of your efforts. It may take a bit longer to do it right but the rewards will be much higher as well. Here are the basic steps to writing an effective article that gets well picked up and can provide you with some solid traffic and links.

Pick A Topic

Picking a topic for your article can often be harder than it sounds. When you're selecting a topic you can't simply write about the first thing that pops into your head. There are two questions you need to ask yourself when you're selecting your topic:

  1. Will the editors care? If the editors of related websites aren't going to care about your topic then it's not going to get published. If it's not going to get published then you can probably find better uses for your time – like golf or shopping for blue widgets online.
  2. Will bloggers care? The second questions is whether other online publishers will be interested in the content. If an editor publishes your content and other link to it, that makes the like to you on the publisher site all the stronger.

Something I've found handy is reading through your FAQ's. If clients and site visitors regularly ask you the same questions, these are likely good topics for your article (though an article on your shipping policies probably won't get picked up too widely). Another great place to start when thinking of a topic to write about is your own brain. Are there questions you've asked that took a ton of time or research to answer? If so – answer the question for others and cover the research and you're likely to get well picked-up.

Write The Article

While picking a topic can be hard, constructing the article can be all the more difficult. An article needs to have a specific point and must provide the reader with a means to understanding why you're making that point.

Let's take this article for example; once I knew I wanted to write an article on how to use article writing as a link building method I knew what the tone would be: instructional. After that it was a matter of deciding what I wanted to cover in the article (picking a topic, writing the article, testing the article and article syndication). After I'm done writing this article I'll have it proof-read by a couple people who aren't involved with our site and then I'll syndicate it in hopes of developing some solid, highly-relevant links and secure some equally relevant traffic.

If I were writing an article on a different topic (choosing a life insurance provider for example) I may divide my article into sections such as: calculating what you need, analyzing the various options, selecting providers, choosing between an insurance company and an insurance broker). Either way you'll want to decide ahead of time what you need to cover. You also need to decide on an article length ahead of time. As a general rule, an article between 1000 and 1200 words is good. Shorter likely won't cover everything and longer tends to lose some people. To this end, I'll move on to part three (testing the article) to keep things conceise.


Admittedly I don't have a ton to say on this topic. Get people to proof-read your article. Ideally you'll find people from inside and outside your industry to proof the article to make sure it makes sense to experts as well as laymen.

Also, watch the pickup rates on your different articles by searching for it after submission. Pay attention to the types that get picked up and where and focus future articles for the best outcome (whether that's links or traffic or both – you'll have to decide based on the statistics generated by each articles)

Article Syndication

And now for the entire purpose of the article – the syndication. There are two main avenues you can look down (and should) when looking to syndicate your articles. You can find an article syndication service for submissions (very good for a large number of article directories) and you can seek topic-specific sites that will accept your articles.

As I am affiliated with an article syndication company I won't list your options there for fear of a conflict of interest and thus diminish the article. Instead I'll focus on finding specific sites to submit your article to and will assume you will select your own large distribution options.

To find sites to submit your articles to you may need to think outside the box. You'll need to run a number of searches for related phrases that will yield the best results. For example, if I worked for a web design company I might search for places that accept articles that are related to web design, hosting, SEO, small businesses and anything else I could think of. For example, I would begin my search on Google with “web design article submit” and extend it from there.

A helpful tool for this is SEO Quake. If you list your results in sets of 100 you can order them by PageRank or backlinks and go for the higher valued sites first.

Once you've got a solid list you can complete your submissions to it. Don't forget to document your submissions as well as any account information for future reference as you'll likely want to submit another article down the road. Also, you'll want to add a few sites each submission so you've got a constantly evolving list with more and more backlinking domains.


Of course, you'll likely discover more for yourself as you write and syndicate your own articles. Just don't give up the first time and learn from every submission. It may take a bit to figure out what works best but article syndication is one of the single more effective link building tactics available.

301s versus Canonical

Resolving Duplicate Content

Since the Panda updates from Google earlier this year, duplicate content has become an issue that no website owner can afford to overlook. While the update was designed specifically to target low value sites, content farms and scraped content, its paramount imperative was to reduce the amount of duplicate content that resulted in mass amounts of spam-ridden search results. As a direct result of the updates to the Google search algorithm, many thousands of both legitimate and nefarious sites were penalized with a significant drop in rankings and traffic.

Duplicate content can include the textual content of a website, scraped content from other sites, or similar content on multiple domains. Duplicate content issues also arise from dynamically generated product pages that display duplicate content throughout different sorting features. Google sees these pages as duplicate content.

Of the tactics available the 301 redirect and the more recent canonical tag, are the primary weapons in a web developers arsenal to help combat the problems associated with duplicate content. Unfortunately many aspiring webmasters do not always have a clear understanding of what they are, or how, or when each method should be employed.

What is a 301 Redirect?

In most cases a 301 redirect is used when you move your domain to a new webhost. The redirect tells search engines that your site has moved but still allows you to preserve your rankings. The other common usage of the 301 is to specify the preferred url of your domain.

Typically you can go to either or< they are the same url but the search engine treats them as different urls. The 301 redirect allows you to specify the “proper” domain and retain the strength of the sites ranking so that it is not split between the two. 301s is that they were only designed to work at the domain level and did not address the duplicate content issues that were arising from have multiple dynamically driven pages. 301s also require that you have access to the web server hosting your site in order to implement them and an understanding of the syntax used to describe the parameters. Introducing the Canonical Tag Prior to the introduction of the canonical tag, duplicate content was simply ignored and people used link building practices to game the SERPs in order to determine which would be the first to be listed. However, this had the negative systemic effect of inundating the SERPs with webspam which made it increasingly difficult to get quality, relevant results when performing web searches. As a result, Google introduced the canonical tag in early 2009 as a way to resolve some of the major duplicate content issues faced by the search engines. The canonical tag was designed as a page level element in which you edit the “head” of the HTML document and edit the parameters. The canonical tag is a very simple one line code string that is treated in very much the same way as a permanent 301 redirect. It ensures that the PageRank, backlinks and link juice flow to the “proper url” and is not split between domains. It is fully supported by Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search engines. Another scenario is which you may want to use a canonical tag is when you have web pages that produce “ugly” urls (, due to advance sorting features, tracking options and other dynamically driven user-defined options. You can specify that the clean url, or the “proper,” or “canonical” version of the url, is at “location B.” Search engines will then index the url that you have specified and regard it as the correct url.
*This example tells the search engine that the “correct” version of the Blue Widgets page is located at the www version and not the non-www version of the page.

The main difference between a 301 redirect and the canonical tag is that the later only works within a single domain or subdomain; that is you cannot go from domain A to domain B. This has the added benefit of alleviating problems associated with 301 hijacks and similar attacks.

Introduction of The Cross-Domain Canonical Tag

In December of 2009, Google announced a ( rel="canonical" link element that was also going to work across domains; thereby allowing webmasters of multiple sites with similar content to define specific content as fundamentally sourced from a different domain.

A simple scenario in which the cross-domain tag would be used is If you have three related domains, on three separate urls and all featured the same article (or product descriptions, etc). You can use the cross-browser tag to specify the page that is the authority (or preferred page). As a result, the specified page will collect all associated benefits of Page Rank and Link Juice and will not penalize you for duplicate content.

In essence the new tag performs the exact same function as the 301 redirect but allowed for a much more user-friendly method of implementation.

During the release and subsequent promotion of the canonical tag, Matt Cutts stated that “anywhere from 10%-36% of webhosts might be duplicated content.” According to Cutts, there are several effective strategies to combat the problem of duplicate content including:

  • Using 301 redirects
  • Setting your preference in Google to the www or non www version in Google’s Webmaster Tools ( )
  • Ensuring that your CMS only generates the correct urls
  • Submiting a sitemap to Google. They will try to only use those urls in the sitemap in an effort to pick the “best url”

301s Versus rel=canonical?
Some people have concerns are over how much link juice will they lose if they use a 301 instead of a canonical redirect. There is very little difference in the relative amount of page rank that gets passed between the two methods.

Matt Cutts from Google addressed the problem by stating:

”You do lose some (page rank) but the amount is pretty insignificant. This is used to try and stop people from using 301s exclusively for everything within their own site instead of hyperlinks.


The canonical tag is most appropriate used when you cannot get to the server’s headers to implement the 301 directly as a web technician is typically required to implement the 301 for you.

The Hack
In the video above Matt addresses the question of relative strength loss between using a 301 Redirect and a rel=canonical tag. In a recent blog post (, Beanstalk SEO's CEO, Dave Davies discusses a possible exploit of this “relative strength loss.”

Matt Cutts sent out a Tweet on May 13th stating, “A recent spam trend is hacking websites to insert rel=canonical pointing to hacker's site. If you suspect hacking, check for it.”

The conclusion is that there is a viable exploit of the rel=canonical tag and that by inserting the tag into a page can be a very effective strategy; on par with 301ing the page itself but even “better” in that it likely won't be detected by the site owner.

Davies continues by posing the following statement: “The next question we need to ask ourselves is, “Is this an issue now or just a warning?” implying that Google is certainly aware of the hack and will be analyizing ways to detect and penalize those that are planning to attempt this hack.

Article Take Aways:

  • The Panda updates have made the issue of duplicate content a priority for site owners to address.
  • Always use 301s whenever possible. They are more widely supported by search engines and can follow a 301 redirect. This also means that any new search engine that comes on to the market will have to support them as well.
  • 301s only work at the domain level (ie. Pointing to
  • 301s also require that you have access to the web server hosting your site in order to implement them
  • The rel=canonical tag is a more user-friendly method to accomplish the same task as a 301.
  • The cross-domain Canonical tag works almost identical to a 301 direct.
  • The canonical tag is a user-friendly version designed to work within the site’s HTML head section.

Facebook Beith Not The Devil

Social media is not going away, and nor should it. For all the nay-sayers out there who deem Facebook as the work of the Devil, just remember social media has always existed. Since the beginning of time, in fact. It was called word of mouth. The baker told the butcher about his latest new blend of grains, the butcher told the housemaid, the housemaid told the tailor, the tailor told the constable and gradually everyone knew about the fabulous new compilation the baker was using in his breads. Now, with the evolution of technology social media has become more than just status updates and shared links to videos of cats snuggling with dogs. The business world has finally begun to see the benefit of this techno-word-of-mouth phenomenon that has 500 million (active) users tweeting their every thought. Social media is a marketing tool. On one side of the fence it is a means for the baker to put the word out about his new grain blend. On the other side, it is the opportunity for the butcher, housemaid, tailor and constable to learn of the baker’s activities and pass along the information. Therefore it makes good business sense for companies to use Yelp, Twitter, Facebook et all as their voice to the consumer.

Not long ago there was an article released by the American Pediatric Society warning parents about “Facebook Depression”. Parents were directed to watch their Facebook-friendly children for signs of depression stemming from either too much exposure to social media, or negative interactions taking place there. Undoubtedly there were a lot of parents observing their teen’s behavior a little more closely after that article hit the cables. Alongside the warning was the explained “Fear of Missing Out” or FOMO. Apparently adolescents are glued to their laptops and smartphones 24/7 waiting for the tiniest signal from a social media outlet, just so they don’t miss out on Justin Beiber tickets. What parents seem to be missing the point on is FOMO is natural. What three year old has not had a temper tantrum at bedtime? The teen version of FOMO is just the same, only on steroids. Parents, it’s all part of growing up. Didn’t you ever go way too far on the side of punk and stick a safety pin through your nose? The difference now is technology, and the corporate world has noticed.

The music industry has always paid close attention to the demographics of their followers, but now it is so much easier to obtain and use that information. Your teen is not only drooling at the mouth for tweets from peers, they are also watching for the latest news on celebrities, musicians, fashion icons, gaming news and probably dozens of other subjects parents would shudder to hear of. Young people with after-school jobs have the most disposable income of any demographic, and business executives know that. Your grumpy 15 year old may not be saddled with Facebook Depression, but there is a pretty good chance he or she is probably sulking over not having the latest Toms or missing out on the Halo release. That doesn’t mean every parent needs to confiscate the internet. Nope, in fact let it be. This is a learning experience. Adolescents are moody, demanding, boundary pushing kids still trying to figure out who they are. Let them continue on the journey, they will thank you for it later.

Of course the caveat to all of this is good parenting. We still need to be aware of our children’s activities and who their friends are. The internet, not social media in particular, is acting as a vehicle for speeding up the learning process for kids today – in both good and bad ways. Accept their use of social media as a means of skill building, but it will take a sound parental influence with a good sense of boundaries to know how to spot dangerous behavior.

Social media is not going away. It is here to stay because no other form of communication gets information out to the masses as quickly. And since we are all social beings with an insatiable need for information, social media is our drug. Embrace it. Use it to your advantage. Make Twitter work for you instead of the other way around. Feed your Google+ profile through to Twitter, re-tweet industry related blogs you follow, Bump your contacts to build up your network, Yelp about favorite restaurants. All this in an effort to get traffic with your name pinned to it, flowing. Use social media to be more involved with your teen’s activities. They can hide, but they can’t hide from the web. Their obsession with social media is your ticket to knowing what they are up to. In the end, you will love the fact that social media is not going away.

On-page Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

While off-page SEO is hugely important, we can't forget about on-page SEO. This consists of placing your most important keywords within the content elements of your actual pages. These on-page elements include Headlines, Sub-headlines, Body Content, Image Tags, and Links. Often times on-page SEO is referred to as "keyword density."

It's very common that businesses will do too little on-page optimization or too much (keyword stuffing). While it's important to include your keyword as many times as necessary within a page, you dont want to go overboard with it either. For on-page SEO done right:

  • Pick a primary keyword for each page and focus on optimizing that page for that word. If you oversaturate a page with too many keywords on one page, the page will lose its importance and authority because search engines won't have a clear idea of what the page is about. This is very common on homepages in particular, where too many keywords are used.
  • Place your primary keywords in your headline and sub-headline. These areas of content have greater weight to search engines.
  • Include the keywords in the body content but dont use them out of context, make sure they are relevant with the rest of your content.
  • Include keywords in the file name of images (e.g. mykeyword.jpg) or use them in the ALT tag.
  • Include the keywords in the page URL and keep the URL clean.
  • And lastly, write for humans first, search engines second. Always prepare your content for your audience and then look to optimize it for search. Content written in the other order won't read naturally and you're visitors will recognize it.
Example of a clean URL containing primary keywords
Example of a clean URL containing primary keywords:
For on-page SEO

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Building Inbound Links

Every website on the internet has the goal of reaching the #1 position in search engines but because there is only one top spot per keyword phrase, not everyone can make it So what gets a first place ranking? Off-page search engine optimization (SEO) is the most important factor to increasing your ranking results.

Building Inbound Links

Off-Page SEO is about building inbound links, essentially getting other quality websites to link back to you. Search engines call this authority or "link juice." The more inbound links you have, the more important your site must be, thus the higher you'll rank.

Link building, when done right, isn't easy since adding links to other websites is sometimes out of your control. Here are some tips to building inbound links:

  • Create high-quality, educational or entertaining content. If people like your content, they will naturally want to link to it.

  • Submit your website to online directories (check out this list here). This is an easy way to start.

  • Write guest posts for other blogs. This is a win-win for both parties. People will want extra (quality) content from others and in exchange, it's a great way to build inbound links.

  • Researching link building opportunities with other websites, but always check the authority of the websites that you are trying to get links from. There are many tools online that allow you to check domain or page authority, including HubSpot's link grader tool.

  • And don't borrow, beg, barter, bribe or buy links.

Part 1: Get Found Online

A great website isn't so great if no one visits it. This is why the first chapter is dedicated to getting found online, which covers the very top of the funnel of your inbound marketing strategy. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an absolute must-have to any website strategy, but it takes hard work and consistency when aiming for the top spot. These tips will help get you on your way to increasing your organic (non-paid) search engine rankings.

In this part
Building Inbound Links
On-page SEO
Title Tag & Meta Tag
XML Sitemaps
301 Redirects


We all know how important a website is to a business's online strategy. Almost every business, whether B2B, B2C, non-profit, local or global needs an online presence to reach buyers in the internet age. A company's website is its virtual storefront.

Shockingly, a recent survey by 1&1 Internet reported that up to 40% of small-to-medium sized businesses still don't have a website. Even if you're on social media, operating without a website is just silly. A website is an essential piece of your online marketing strategy.

Whether you're looking to build your first website, or if your existing site just isnt getting the traffic or leads you were hoping for, you may wonder what it really takes to have a great website.

Having a website alone isn't the key to great results. Instead, it's the ability turn your website into an inbound marketing machine. Your website has a hefty goal and it needs to wear many hats. A website needs to not just exist, it needs to perform. It needs to attract visitors, educate them and convince them to buy. But I know what you're thinking - easier said than done.

Today, the web is social and interactive. It's not static like most websites tend to be. As such, a website can no longer sustain as its own island. We now need to consider integrating search, social media, content, flogging, and more with our websites. Gone are the days where all it took was a URL, fancy Flash graphics, and an expensive advertising campaign to temporarily boost traffic.

The reason for this shift is largely due to changing buyer behavior. Today's buyer wishes to consume information when they want and how they want and often times without the involvement of a sales person. And more importantly, they want to be educated and not sold to. As you can see from the following chart, websites and new forms of inbound marketing content (such as podcasts, bogging and social media) have become a considerable factor in the buying cycle.

You'll also find in HubSpot's 2011 State of Inbound Marketing Report that inbound marketing is more effective in reaching today's buyer. Results show that inbound marketing has a 62% less cost per lead compared to outbound, or traditional, marketing.

What might not be apparently visible here is the role your website plays. It's actually a big one. In most cases, traffic from blogs, social media, organic and paid search end up converting into leads or sales on your main website. Without a website acting as an online basecamp, it would be difficult to attract new business to one source.

This is why having an effective website is so crucial and that it contains key elements to driving more traffic, leads, and sales.

So without further ado, I present to you 25 Website 'Must Haves' for Driving Traffic, Leads and Sales. To leam more about a particular must-have, you'll find additional resources at the bottom of each topic. Definitely take advantage of these if you're looking to master inbound marketing.