Mar
20

Google Plans to Punish Sites “Over Optimized” for SEO

Getting good placement in Google search results can be a matter of life and death for many companies these days. Given that Google is constantly tweaking their search algorithm to improve their search results — and to fend off threats from search rivals like Bing and Apple’s Siri — keeping tabs on how those changes in Google search impact content creators can be a full-time job.

Yet search engine optimization (SEO) has been employed by some website operators to game Google’s search algorithm and increase search results artificially. According to Google’s Matt Cutts in a speech at SXSW transcribed by Search Engine Land’s Barry Schwartz, the search engine giant is working to adjust their search engine to “level the playing field” against site owners that engage in SEO “over optimization.” (Schwartz has also included a partial transcript of the Cutts speech in his blog post.)

The changes to Google’s search engine should be coming soon, and is yet the latest in a number of tweaks and updates Google has made in an attempt to improve search results. One of the more significant updates to Google search came in the form of the Google “Panda” update in April 2011, which sought to minimize the impact of so-called “content farms” that publish huge amounts of marginal content that is heavily SEO-optimized.

Google is also looking to improve so-called “semantic search,” which is being popularized by Apple’s Siri technology. Semantic search is focused on providing immediate facts to a given query rather than presenting a page full of links to sites that provide those answers.

In a recent interview by Amir Efrati with the Wall Street Journal, Google search executive Amit Singhal said that the changes would help Google deliver an improved search experience, rather than the “cross our fingers and hope there’s a Web page out there with the answer” solution that currently exists.

So what are your thoughts on the upcoming update to Google’s search engine? Feel free to add a comment to this blog post or contribute to the discussion on Twitter.

Apr
13

How will HTML5 change SEO?

I’m sure you’ve heard the buzz about html5, and you may be wondering how this is going to affect seo. As a SEO expert, you are most likely interested mainly in those changes in the HTML 5 specification, which will affect your work. Here are some of them:

  • Improved page segmentation. Search engines are getting smarter and there are many reasons to believe that even now they are applying page segmentation. Basically, page segmentation means that a page is divided into several separate parts (i.e. main content, menus, headers, footers, links sections, etc.) and these parts are treated as separate entries. At present, there is no way for a Web master to tell search engines how to segment a page but this is bound to change in HTML 5.
  • A new <article> tag. The new <article> tag is probably the best addition from a SEO point of view. The <article> tag allows to mark separate entries in an online publication, such as a blog or a magazine. It is expected that when articles are marked with the <article> tag, this will make the HTML code cleaner because it will reduce the need to use <div> tags. Also, probably search engines will put more weight on the text inside the <article> tag as compared to the contents on the other parts of the page.
  • A new <section> tag. The new <section> tag can be used to identify separate sections on a page, chapter, book. The advantage is that each section can have its separate HTML heading. As with the <article> tag, it can be presumed that search engines will pay more attention to the contents of separate sections. For instance, if the words of a search string are found in one section, this implies higher relevance as compared to when these words are found all across the page or in separate sections.
  • A new <header> tag. The new <header> tag (which is different from the head element) is a blessing for SEO experts because it gives a lot of flexibility. The <header> tag is very similar to the <H1> tag but the difference is that it can contain a lot of stuff, such as H1, H2, H3 elements, whole paragraphs of text, hard–coded links (and this is really precious for SEO), and any other kind of info you feel relevant to include.
  • A new <footer> tag. The <footer> tag might not be as useful as the <header> one but still it allows to include important information there and it can be used for SEO purposes as well. The <header> and <footer> tags can be used many times on one page – i.e. you can have a separate header/footer for each section and this gives really a lot of flexibility.
  • A new <nav> tag. Navigation is one of the important factors for SEO and everything that eases navigation is welcome. The new <nav> tag can be used to identify a collection of links to other pages.

As you see, the new tags follow the common structure of a standard page and each of the parts (i.e. header, footer, main section) has a separate tag. The tags we described here, are just some (but certainly not all) of the new tags in HTML 5, which will affect SEO in some way. For instance, <audio>, <video> or <dialogue> tags are also part of the HTML 5 standard and they will allow to further separate the content into the adequate categories. There are many other tags but they are of relatively lower importance and that is why they are not discussed.

For now HTML 5 is still far in the future. When more pages become HTML 5–compliant, search engines will pay more attention to HTML 5. Only then it will be possible to know how exactly search engines will treat HTML 5 pages. The mass adoption of HTML 5 won’t happen soon and it is a safe bet to say that for now you can keep to HTML 4 and have no concerns. Additionally, it will take some time for browsers to adjust to HTML 5, which further delays the moment when HTML 5 will be everywhere.

However, once HTML 5 is accepted and put to use, it will be the dominating standard for the years to come and that is why you might want to keep an eye on what other web masters are doing, just to make sure that you will not miss the moment when HTML 5 becomes the defacto standard.

From webconfs.com

If you’d like to see the capabilities of html5, here are some great demo sites by Google, and Apple:

http://www.youtube.com/html5

http://www.html5rocks.com/

http://slides.html5rocks.com/

http://studio.html5rocks.com/

http://www.apple.com/html5/

Apr
06

The Importance of Search Engine Optimization

Most businesses today have the understanding that online importance is important; however it seems that the effort stops at the point they get online. The online presence is there, but with no organized method you’re just a small being in the large world of the internet. Generally most people have way too much faith in technology and expect to do something once and have it succeed amazingly with no effort. When it comes to designing a website with purpose and power there are a few very important factors:

  • The obvious first would be design which comes down to visual appeal and user friendliness.
  • Frequency of updated material.
  • Backlinks (Sites that link to your site) on relevant sites to yours.
  • The relevancy of your material to what your demographic is looking for. (Most shoppers do their research online first.) Wall Street Journal
  • Most important of all you want the search engines to understand what you have on your site, where to find it, and what to look for.

“More than half the businesses who responded to a Small Business Search Marking Survey by American Express and SEMPO said they needed help with their campaigns, yet only 25 per cent said they would employ anyone to assist with search engine marketing, MediaPost reported.

Nineteen per cent of those questioned said that although they were planning on spending money on digital advertising this year, they would not put any money into search engine marketing.

The news provider reported that the survey said the confusion could arise from the large number of strategies which small businesses are faced with, and the potential pitfalls they may face along the way.

Almost three-quarters of those questioned said they handled search campaigns internally, despite often having no expertise in the sector.”

Equi Media

We need to remember that no matter how powerful the computer is whether it be a desktop, a Google server, or a super computer its still no human brain. This is what search engine optimization is for — to help the search engine algorithms understand your site better. This will help your site appear more relevant to the keywords you are using to target your audience and get you the most relevant traffic. Relevancy is key in top ranking whether you are talking search engine marketing or optimization (SEM or SEO). Search engine marketing can also help you research your demographic through keyword research tools and trial and error. This will also give you an idea of what the search engine is looking for; this shouldn’t stop at Google, Bing, Yahoo, be sure to include Facebook too. Quality not quantity plays a huge role in top ranking. If you are going to launch a new site a good start is extremely important, not that this means if you were off to a bad start you’ve seen the end of your online presence. Late is better than never, and that’s why Cyber Stampede is here, to help you!

For those who are familiar with the iPhone/iPod game Angry Birds, here is an SEO analogy that relates to the game.

  1. You have to play to figure out the rules
    So many webmasters want to know “the best way” to do this or that – but there rarely is a one-size-fits-all answer. Many times, we simply need to play the game and see what happens, building up the real world knowledge of what is right for OUR situation as we go.
  2. You succeed best when your site’s unique contributions are recognized
    Too much energy goes into being “like site X”. Once you’ve got the basics of webmastering down, what’s important is making your site’s unique qualities obvious in the marketplace.
  3. You can’t recover from a really bad start
    Sometimes you do need to cut your losses and move on. That’s just the reality of the world.
  4. Different problems require different specialists
    Running a website is a diverse project, and you simply cannot know everything required to make the right moves in every situation. Knowing when to bring in outside help or develop a new skill in-house is key.
  5. Blowing something up isn’t necessarily felt everywhere
    If you want to make a major change in an established web business, you often need to think holistically, and realize that there are many factors to take into consideration. You can’t just fiddle around without having some idea of how your entire web ecosystem will react to that fiddling – and that includes how it will look to Google.
  6. Most improvements are incremental
    Great breakthroughs in search traffic are rare. Mostly it’s just putting one foot in front of the other, over and over again. Google even has safeguards that keep a site from exploding onto the scene too fast.
  7. Just because you’ve mastered one task doesn’t make you master of all
    It’s a natural pitfall because webmasters do need to have a lot of diverse skill. But sometimes you need a business plan tune-up, or a conversion optimization, or a usability assessment in order to reach the next level.
  8. You can never do the same thing exactly the same way
    And that means you can never do the exactly same thing that someone else did, either. Google moves on, each website exists in a unique larger web presence, and repeating the same patterns over and over will eventually smack you into a brick wall.
  9. Some goals require more “birds”
    Sometimes you can make successful changes to a website, only to discover that the business can sustain the new level of success. It’s not just Google that needs to focus on “does this scale.” Webmasters who want major success need to look at that question in advance, too.
  10. There is more than one way to win
    Even in SEO this is true. There is more than one keyword or set of keywords that can tap into your audience. There is more than one way to get other sites to link to you. There is more than one way to structure a website. There is more than one way to write HTML, CSS, PHP. etc – even to achieve the same end.

Search Engine Round Table

Be Sure to come back Friday for an article on the difference between SEM and SEO.

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