THE USUAL: Coverage of this month's hot topics, shuffles, shindigs, attaboys and word on the wire.
The Right SEO Tools for the Job Author: Bruce Clay
There is a saying: A craftsman is only as good as his tools but I suspect the reverse is true as well. Tools are only as good as the person using them. Talk to any musician, chef, carpenter and they will all tell you that their talent is complemented by having the best tools. It's a synergistic relationship where the skills of experts can only be improved by having the right tool for the job.
For the last 15 years, we've supplemented our services by building tools to take the busy work out of SEO and support our clients through knowledge and data. Now, with the release of the brand new SEOToolSet v5, we think we've got the best tools suite on the market and, when paired with a knowledge SEO team and total buy-in from the client, you've reached a good match of knowledge and utility.
Now, understand, we're not suggesting you get rid of every other tools subscription you have. In fact, we think that the smart thing to do is keep using your favorite tools and add in the SEOToolSet. At $9.95 a month, they're an amazing deal and completely affordable. Why would we urge you to keep your old tools if we like ours so much? Well, it's pretty simple. Remember, if the only tool in your toolbox is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. We want you to have the widest range of tools at your command.
What's in the new SEOToolSet?
Integrated research tools
A comprehensive page analyzer
The fastest search engine ranking monitor available (100 kw/m)
Several detailed ranking report modules
Initial link analysis
And lots more
When we built our tools, we did it based around what we as SEOs needed to do our jobs. Most reports allow considerable drill-down and exceptional granularity of data sorting. Speed, usability and accuracy were the name of the game.
Learn more about the new SEOToolSet Version Five. For the next month (expiring March 15, 11:59 p.m.), you can use code TRIAL_NL88 to get a 30-day free trial. (If you miss that window, don't worry. We know how important it is to try before you buy, so the tools will always come with a 30-day money-back guarantee; try them risk-free.)
BACK TO BASICS:
Creating Quality Content for the Web Author: Jessica Lee
In 2010 and early 2011, Google made several changes to its algorithm targeting spammy or low-quality websites. Specifically, two algorithm changes target sites that don't have the most relevant or quality content for a user's query.
In typical Google fashion, we don't have specific details into the search engine's criteria of good content; however, based on what we do know about writing quality content, we can offer tips on how to create it.
What is good content? It's a question that comes up frequently and can be hard to define. To start, let's talk about what good content isn't.
The Economies of Social Media Author: Kate Gamble
Like most good theories, mine is based on an observed trend. At Bruce Clay Australia, we have noticed that sites with social aspects to them are performing better in competitive search results. This trend was first observed about two years ago, and Des (a Director here) deduced that 'Web signals' acted to assist rankings.
A Web signal is the mention of your brand + your keyword on a webpage crawled by search engines. For example, "McDonalds cheeseburger". The more Web signals there are the more Google considers you to be a brand authority on that keyword. Interestingly, in our experience even a new website can rank quickly and well if the social signals are implemented correctly, indicating that in certain industries it is not so much the number of Web signals that are important but rather the rate of change of these signals.
Being social, as I see it, consists of two parts; firstly, add a social element to your website, such as a forum or a blog. Secondly, push content to areas where users are expecting to be social (e.g., Facebook) and leverage their 'readiness to engage'. Let's call these processes "On Site Social" and "Off Site Social".
Google to Bing: Stop Copying Me
If you haven't heard about the recent Google-Bing controversy, it goes something like this:
Google notices Bing is returning similar pages to Google for misspelled queries. Google gets suspicious. Google sets up a sting operation to see if Bing is copying its results. Google finds out Bing is, in fact, "copying" them.
What happens next is a series of finger-pointing, defensive statements and heated discussion on the fairness (or lack of) of Bing's actions.
In an oddly coincidental sequence of events, the performance unfolded into what seemed like a hidden-agenda boxing match between the two organizations.
First, Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land questioned why Google decided to make its Bing findings public when it did.
See, the "Bing Sting" was revealed right after a popular article on TechCrunch was published, calling for a new and better Google.
Soon after, an event centered around the state of search was approaching quickly, and hosted by guess who? That's right, the author of the published TechCrunch article, Vivek Wadhwa.
The event, Farsight 2011: Beyond the Search Box , would host both Bing and Google.
It was later confirmed that the strangely connected series of events were completely unrelated, but that Google wanted to publish the findings of the Bing Sting prior to the conference, since the topic was so timely.
The Ethics of It All
Aside from the production that played out in the news, the question remained - was Bing acting unethically?
See, Google itself relies on the content of others for its business model, so those siding with Bing called Google a hypocrite.
In a detailed explanation of how Bing was using search signals to aggregate information, one can see Bing's defense.
But the real question, argued Sullivan, is: Are the search results as relevant as they could be to Bing users if they are using Google cues to serve up results?
The whole situation leaves us wondering just how many options we're being reduced to online.
To see Bing and Google face off on the topic at the Farsight 2011 event, check out this 40 minute video:
Following on its acquisition of TechCrunch, this month, global media company AOL bought Huffington Post, adding them to its growing network.
It's possible that while Twitter co-founder Ev Williams remains in the building and part of the company, he doesn't really work at Twitter anymore.
PPC expert Pamela Lund joined BlueGlass as their director of paid search.
Google is hearing wedding bells. The search engine launched a wedding vertical this month, entering into yet another niche market and proving that no vertical is safe.
In the forums, representatives of Google are warning of "big changes shortly". Speculation is that the changes will be further refinements to the content farms filters.
Bruce Clay Australia released their 2011 SEO Factors & Trends Report. The twenty-six page report covers the key SEO factors that changed in the search engine marketplace in 2010 and the key potential SEO trends in 2011. The objective of this report is to help you identify the key factors that could affect your SEO strategy, and ultimately your search engine rankings. The report also includes recommended actions to align your SEO strategy with the factors and trends identified. It's a great resource for SEOs and business owners alike.
SMX West takes place March 8-10 in San Jose, California. You can always register to attend using our 10% discount code: smx10bruceclay. Remember, the earlier you register, the lower your total cost will be. Don't forget to check out our One Day SEO Training seminar. We hope to see you there!
The end of March brings SES New York. If you want to attend, register using code 20BRU for a discount. We will also be presenting our One Day SEO Training at this conference as well.
In the U.S., the newly updated SEOToolSet® standard and advanced training and certification dates for 2011 are as follows:
California Training 2011
The dates for NY Training 2011 will be announced later this year. East coast students will be able to chose from two sessions during the year.
SEO training goes to Europe in the first-ever Bruce Clay, Inc. corso SEO on March 1 and March 2 in Milan, Italy. The course, taught in English by Bruce Clay and co-hosted by Bruce Clay Italia, is open to all international students. For more information in English, French, Italian, Russian or Spanish, contact the Bruce Clay Italia offices at +39 02 3809 3525 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. GMT +1 Berlin time.
Google announced late January that it partnered with Yad Vashem, a center for Holocaust remembrance in Israel, to bring its collection of photographs to the Web.
In an effort to help the Egyptian people communicate amidst the upheaval, Google created speak-to-tweet, a service that translated voice messages to Twitter with the hashtag #egypt. Google executive Wael Ghonim was involved even more personally - arrested, detained and finally freed again by the Egyptian government. His Facebook campaign is widely credited with sparking the revolution.
Groupon ran some controversial commercials during the Super Bowl this year, but at the heart of the ads laid a good cause: Groupon's goal to aid charitable organizations.
Word on the Wire
Developments this month generated more awareness about low-quality or spammy sites in search results, starting with Google's latest algorithm change targeting content-scraping sites.
Shortly after, Blekko announced it was slashing content farms altogether from its index.
Google then introduced a Chrome extension allowing users to block sites from the results (for example, content farms) as an experiment to see what sites searchers block to potentially use that information to update its algorithm.
Blekko created the Spam Clock at the beginning of the year to generate awareness on just how many spammy Web pages are launched each day. On February 11, the spam clock surpassed a billion.
Bruce Clay talked about the severity of participating in purchased link programs, what not to do in link development and how to use paid links safely.
The J.C. Penney controversy began with a New York Times investigation of the department store giant's consistent high rankings in the SERPs for several generic queries and ended with a hefty penalty from Google for paid link schemes.
If you have any questions or comments on any of the above Internet marketing news items or if you would like to suggest topics for future search engine optimization articles, please contact us at Bruce Clay, Inc.