Optimizing Navigation for SEO

Excerpts from my latest article at Practical eCommerce: “SEO: Putting Navigation to Work.”

Navigation does more than shuttling customers around your site. In addition to its obvious usability and design functions, navigation can be optimized to improve organic search traffic. Well-optimized navigation strengthens the flow of link popularity throughout your site while sending relevant keyword signals, both of which are important to driving organic search traffic and sales.

Think of the aggregate power of every link that comes into every page as the lifeblood of a site. Search engine optimization professionals like to call that lifeblood “link juice.” To keep the site healthy and able to rank for the most keyword phrases possible, that lifeblood link juice has to be distributed throughout the site to feed every page. Internal links like navigation are the system of arteries and vessels that pass the link juice throughout the site.

Link juice doesn’t spread evenly across a site. Most of the link juice for most sites comes into the home page as the default place to link to. Think of the home page as the heart: a big pooling of vital link juice. The farther away you get from the home page, the less link juice is passed on. Each page along the step keeps a share for itself and passes on a lesser amount. The pages at the end of the line end up with the smallest fraction.

When a page has earned links from other external sites it becomes another pool of link juice. In some cases a resource or tool your site offers can become an even stronger pool of link juice than the home page. Well-optimized navigation ensures that those pools of link juice share their strength with the rest of the site.

Read on to learn more about:

  • Optimizing Navigation Links
  • Optimizing Navigation Keywords
Read the article in full at Practical eCommerce: “SEO: Putting Navigation to Work.”

Web PieRat logo.

Originally posted on Web PieRat.

The Overlap between SEO & Accessibility

Excerpts from my latest article at Resource Interactive’s weThink blog: “Better Accessibility, Better SEO.”

Mention web accessibility and digital marketers tend to sigh, flashback to alt attributes on images and envision a small handful of vision-impaired people using screen readers. In reality, accessibility standards benefit nearly 12% of the U.S. population, from people with hearing and vision impairment to people with repetitive motion disorder, developmental disabilities or ADHD. And the growing population of senior citizens online represents another important reason for brands to embrace accessibility standards, with 53% of American adults age 65 and older using the Internet.

As an added benefit, what’s good for accessibility is also typically good for search engine optimization. The accessibility standards that focus on providing textual alternatives and navigational guidelines have the most overlap with SEO because the search engine crawlers that index the Internet for ranking are traditionally bound by similar restrictions as screen readers.

The most obvious example of overlap between accessibility and SEO is the need to provide textual alternatives for non-textual content such as images, audio and video. On the SEO front, alt attributes are not a very powerful keyword relevance signal, but they do have a small benefit. When combined with other SEO best practices, using relevant alt attributes that agree with the keyword signal on the page when it’s possible will give the page an extra boost. Following the following guidelines will enhance both web accessibility and the keyword signals that feed SEO….

Read the article in full at Resource Interactive’s weThink blog »

Web PieRat logo.

Originally posted on Web PieRat.

Google Algorithm Weather Reports Via MozCast

Excerpts from my latest article at Practical eCommerce: “SEO Ranking Forecast: 74 and Sunny.”

One of the hardest aspects of search engine optimization is determining whether changes in your site’s organic search results are based on changes to your own site or external influences like algorithm changes. SEOmoz created MozCast weather report to help answer this question, and today’s addition of “Top-View Metrics” makes the tool even more useful.

The foundation of MozCast is a meteorological metaphor displayed on the home page that represents the relative change in Google’s algorithms each and every day. The stormier the icon and the higher the temperature, the more Google’s algorithms changed compared to the previous day. For example, “sunny and 57” means very little change but “thunderstorms and 101” means big changes.

The magic starts with a set of 1,000 keywords. The MozCast tool grabs Google’s top 10 rankings for each keyword and compares the changes across all 1,000 keywords to get a holistic high-level view that is then translated into the weather metaphor.

Read the article in full at Practical eCommerce »

Web PieRat logo.

Originally posted on Web PieRat.

Smartphone Searching Means Money

Excerpts from my latest article at NBC Chicago’s Inc. Well: “Why Mobile Search is the New Frontier

Cutting edge new smartphones are launching left and right, from Apple’s iPhone 5 to Nokia’s Windows Mobile-based Lumix series to Samsung’s 5.5-inch tablet. While the consumer tech industry abuzz with smartphone news, marketers are salivating over the inevitable increase in mobile search.

Already some 62 million Americans search daily on their smartphones. A surprising 66 percent of Americans with smartphones access the Internet on their devices every day and most won’t leave home without them. In fact, a third would rather give up their televisions than their smartphones.

The most exciting area of overlap between mobile devices and search marketing, however, is local search. Nearly everyone, 94 percent, seeks local information on their smartphones. Even better, 90% have actually acted on that information by shopping, be it making a reservation at a restaurant or calling the store.

Speaking of shopping, smartphone users also pull out their phones when the impulse to shop strikes them. It seems that our phones may even encourage that impulsivity, with 81 percent of purchases on a smartphone reported as spontaneous. Even when in the store, consumers use their phones to research purchases. They consider their phones as a shopping tool, with 35 percent comparing prices in-store and 32 percent starting their research on their phones and completing their purchase offline in a store.

So how do we make sure our businesses are the ones in front of those impulsive, searching, mobile consumers? Read on to find out more.

Read the full article at NBC 5 Chicago’s Inc. Well >>

Web PieRat logo.

Originally posted on Web PieRat.