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Archives For Search Engine Optimization

All of the articles contained in this category are about Search Engine Optimization (SEO), the practice of helping websites appear more prominently in search engines such as Google and Bing. Most of these articles are around the more technical parts of SEO, especially SEO for Wordpress, but you will also find articles about linkbuilding, social media for SEO, and Microsoft Excel for SEOs.

The other day I saw Rand Fishkin’s tweet linking to this article that shows that, as Rand says, “evergreen content that ranks beats everything else:”. I am, of course, inclined to agree and because I can’t  keep my mouth shut on topics like this I tweeted this:

Then an interesting discussion happened between myself and Patrick Coombe, who is someone that I respect and value his opinions. He raised the point of nofollow links and how some people still think that there is no (business) value in them. This was the discussion (full tweet discussion here, image below because Twitter’s embedding doesn’t work like I need it to): nofollow-tweets At one point in that discussion I said this, to which Rand replied that now that I’m no longer at a big company, I may think differently:

Obviously I believe that there is business value in high-authority nofollowed links, but I’ve come far away from thinking about links as “followed” or “nofollowed”. So, I am curious as to the rest of you. Do you still think of links as follow/nofollow, or is a link a link?

The poll closes in 2 days and I will publish the results after.

Do you take "nofollow" into account for SEO and promotion of content/your business?

  • If it's a high authority site, I don't care if it's followed or not. (43%, 30 Votes)
  • I think about it, but it doesn't keep me from doing outreach for that links (27%, 19 Votes)
  • No (16%, 11 Votes)
  • Yes (14%, 10 Votes)
  • Yes for links, no for promotion (13%, 9 Votes)

Total Voters: 70

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I recently read this post entitled The Curse of the Full Stack Marketer. I tweeted a few brief thoughts (a brief rant really) around this post, but now I think it needs a longer treatment. I also realize that there have been a few posts written as follow-ons but I’ve purposefully not read them so as to make this my own thoughts.

I think that there are a few elements at play that make this an interesting and tough topic (especially as someone who feels the tension very personally). Those include:

  1. The rockstar problem
  2. The meritocracy problem
  3. The individual vs manager dilemma
  4. The small vs big company challenges and differences

Let’s unpack each.
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I don’t often write about technical SEO issues anymore on this site, but I have over time often come across questions about when it is best to use a 301 vs a 302 vs a canonical tag on duplicate content. I thought I’d take the opportunity to talk about each in depth with the pros and cons of each, as well as a few examples of when to use them. Continue Reading…

I’ve often been asked about guest posting for SEO purposes. I always said that it was less than ideal, but when at an agency I couldn’t really say that it shouldn’t be done.

After being in-house for a year and a half now, I’m putting my stake in the ground.

I do not think that enterprises should be guest posting for SEO purposes.

Before we get going, allow me to draw a distinction between “amplification”, which is spreading the word about content you’ve produced or something you’ve launched, sometimes via guest contribution, and “guest posting ” as most SEO’s think of it, where you write content specifically for a site for the purposes of a link that hopefully will pass some link equity.

Here is why I think “guest posting for SEO” for enterprises is a waste of time and better-used resources. Continue Reading…

When I became a boss I never really thought about the fact that the way I’m put together and tend to be day-to-day could end up being a liability for me in some ways. I mean, the same is true of marriage (I’ve been married just over a year), but in a professional sense it feels different.

I have always considered myself a 10x professional. I get a lot done and pride myself on that. I can have 8–10 things in my head and on my mind at once, and I can pretty well hold all of them in tension and somehow get them all done. I don’t say this to brag; it’s simply a reality of who I am.

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Marketers produce content. We produce a metric ton of content every day, actually. We’re told to create great content and to keep producing great content.

*cue the parody “Great content is killing me”*

Not only do we produce content on our own sites, we also produce content and put it on other sites (which some deem pretty insane). Let me get this straight – We’re creating high-quality content, that takes up our own creative energy and time, so that someone else can put it on their site. And we’re doing it for a freaking link??

If you’re just doing content for the sake of a link, let me say that you’re doing it wrong. Yes, I’ve worked in SEO for a while now. Yes, I know the value of a link. Yes, I can put the monetary value on a link, and I have. Yes, I still think about links first when I scan a piece of content.

BUT. What if I told you that you can still get all of this and more? Continue Reading…

I don’t often write blog posts blasting Google, nor do I often reference local SEO, but I am going to do both in this post. In fact, I’ve been blogging a lot less this year (for many different reasons), but I felt compelled to write this post. In my work at Distilled, I am lucky to work with thought leaders and brands in their spaces. Because of this, we’re able to target competitive terms.

The reality of the situation, though, is that Google has slowly, for the past 6-9 months especially, been slowly making changes to their SERP layout that are effectively (very effectively, mind you) stealing non-branded searches (which as we all know have a higher cost per click, or CPC, than branded searches) from everyone, small businesses and big brands alike.

What I want to do is lay out the landscape for you, specifically in the travel niche, of what we are seeing and then make some recommendations for how specifically to target organic traffic for your website, both small business and large brand.

The Situation

First, let’s take a look at what you can really see on a 15″ laptop screen, which for now is a relatively normal screen size (I use a Samsung Series 7 15″ screen), though according to this:

High resolution 21 to 24-inch widescreen monitors are now both commonplace and relatively cheap to pick up. Laptop displays range from 10 to 17-inches, and tablets 7 to 10-inches for the most part.


Other than an OLED TV, LCD TV, and Desktop monitor, a laptop is a typical size that most people use, with over 60% using a laptop or PC at home:


As you can see (I’ve highlighted in pink what is Google and in yellow what is organic), everything about the fold is links to Google or a click that makes Google money on my laptop:


When I click on the Premier Inn link, it takes me to a branded search for Premier Inn that has 1 (count them), 1 organic link above the fold (which is PremierInn.com, luckily for them):


With the pink and yellow again, we see this:


Even without the organic listings being above the fold, this study recently came out with a CTR study on the local carousel showing where people are clicking, which is predominately on the local carousel and the map:


Of course, this isn’t a surprise since a study that came out recently (thanks Dennis)says that the first position gets 33% of clicks, while the Slingshot study from 2011 said 18%. So we can imagine that if Google puts a box up higher on the page, it’s going to be clicked more (and hence they’ll make more money).

And finally, AutoRevo came out with a post yesterday showing that the local carousel is actually further obfuscating non-branded search traffic, and essentially that sites in niches where the carousel is showing need to kiss a lot of their non-branded organic traffic goodbye:


What’s A Company To Do?

Hopefully you are seeing now that this is a big deal for sites in niches where the carousel appears (mostly travel and restaurants right now). In fact, Conductor came out with a study recently (at the time of writing this post) that shows that while organic traffic accounts for anywhere between 53-56% of total visits, for travel it’s only 31% of total traffic (and that’s going to tank soon):


So what do you do? Google’s taking away non-branded organic traffic and making you pay for more traffic to make up for the difference (at a higher CPC than needed), so what can you do to gain back some traffic?

Well, here are some ideas:

  • Content to gain longtail traffic that converts to microtransactions that converts later;
  • Ensure that you rank for all your branded terms;
  • Drive branded searches through paid search, offline advertising, and social

At the end of the day, Google became tired of ranking crap affiliate websites for non-branded searches. It seems like now they are targeting spam from a couple of different directions:

  • Encouraging branded searches
  • Moving towards authorship
  • Ranking sites more off domain authority rather than individual page authority

In verticals like travel, especially hotels, your choice now is to go for longtail traffic or accept that your overall natural search traffic will be down. Google’s squeezing you out, so act accordingly.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

A fundamental shift has occurred over the past two years in the way people consume content on the Internet. Not quite six years ago, Google bought the RSS service Feedburner for $100M and integrated it with their blogging platform, Blogger, as well as allowing bloggers on other platforms like WordPress to syndicate their content through it.

According to Compete, Feedburner is on a downward trend in terms of traffic:

BuiltWith seems to corroborate this:

feedburner usage stats

In fact, Google seems to think that RSS is dying because they have deprecated the Feedburner API and are even talking about shutting it down completely in 2013. That should signal something to marketers if Google does not think the product worth keeping alive, even if simply because Google is the big player on the Internet and holds the ability to shift mindsets and kill verticals if they wish.
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SEO is getting harder. When I started in the industry a few years ago, it was possible to throw a bunch of exact match anchor text at a page and it would rank fairly quickly. You could spin content all day, or just replace keywords in templated content, and still rank fairly well fairly quickly.

Now things have changed, and SEOs are trying to deal with the ramifications. We’re dealing with (not provided), personalized search, location-specific search, Penguins, Pandas, and more.
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Start With The First Link

John Doherty —  December 19, 2012

I work on a lot of large websites in my job at Distilled – ecommerce, publishers, other revenue-oriented websites. Often, I am working with sites who have hundreds of thousands if not millions of links pointing to them, but they’re often top-heavy (ie a lot of links to the homepage).

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