Google’s Recent Quality Algorithm Updates

Excerpts from my latest article at Practical Ecommerce: “SEO: 2 Months of Algorithm Updates.”

If your organic search metrics have been fluctuating more than usual recently, you’re in good company. Google rolled out four notable algorithm updates in the two months between May 21 and July 15, including a Panda update and the much-anticipated Penguin 2.0 update.

Each of the updates shares a focus on improving the quality of search results by detecting and removing factors that give some sites unfair advantage over others in the rankings. This summer’s updates focus on low-quality link signals, content quality and domain advantages. In each case, Google’s intent is to combat the low-quality or spammy search results that can gum up its search results and lead to poor searcher experience. The updates discussed include:

  • Penguin 2.0: Next Generation Link Spam Weapon
  • Payday Loan Algorithm: Spammy Queries
  • Partial Match Domain Update
  • Panda Detuning

Keeping track of Google’s algorithm updates and deciphering which may have had an impact on your site can be very challenging. The Panguin Tool is one of the easiest ways to look for correlations between your Google Analytics and the Panda, Penguin, and other Google updates. Just log in with your Google Analytics account and Panguin Tool shows your organic search visits overlaid with a timeline of algorithm updates. Moz also offers a handy list of algorithmic events with links to relevant articles describing each. Read more at “SEO: 2 Months of Algorithm Updates.”

Read my articles in full at Practical eCommerce » Jill Kocher


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Originally posted on Web PieRat.

Using Google’s Keyword Planner for SEO

Excerpts from my latest article at Practical eCommerce: “SEO: Using Google’s New Keyword Planner.”

Keywords are the foundation of search engine optimization. They’re what searchers type into Google’s search box, and what marketers incorporate into their web pages to attract searchers to their sites. Google recently launched a new tool that changes the way we research keywords: AdWords Keyword Planner.

Intended for use by paid search marketers, the Keyword Planner replaces the AdWords Keyword Tool I’ve often recommended using and merges it with the AdWords Traffic Estimator. In essence, the Keyword Planner is designed to simplify keyword research and campaign planning for paid search marketers.

Despite its AdWords focus, the Keyword Planner can still be used by SEO professionals. The core of the toolset revolves around keyword volume, a measure central to both paid and organic search.

For those familiar with the Keyword Tool, the new interface will take some getting used to. Where the Keyword Tool offered a single interface to accept keywords and return keyword data, the Keyword Planner gives marketers three choices for how to proceed.

Really, though, it doesn’t matter which we prefer, the old Keyword Tool or the new Keyword Planner. The Planner was launched in mid-May, and the AdWords Keyword Tool should be discontinued sometime this month. Since the Keyword Planner is here to stay, get used to the interface before the Keyword Tool disappears and you’re left scrambling for data.

Read the article in full at Practical eCommerce » http://www.practicalecommerce.com/member/2459-Jill-Kocher/articles


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What to Expect from an SEO Audit

Excerpts from my latest article at Practical eCommerce: “SEO Audits: What to Expect.”

One of the challenges that plagues the search marketing industry is a lack of standards around the quality and scope of work. Different agencies and consultants will use similar words to describe very different deliverables and processes. One of the most abused of these is the SEO Audit.

Clients have told me bitter tales of ghosts of “audits” past that didn’t live up to expectations, like the big-brand shoe retailer that paid $10,000 over three months’ time for a two-page Word document containing weak, tactical recommendations. I thought my client was exaggerating for effect until he emailed me the product.

To protect their investment, businesses need to understand what to expect from an SEO audit and which questions to ask to ensure they’ll receive the quality and scope required.

An audit commonly begins a search marketing engagement with a client. The goal is to identify the challenges and opportunities the client’s sites have for improving their SEO performance to drive more brand impressions, visits and conversions. The input is a client’s web analytics, access to search tools like Webmaster Tools or SEOmoz, the client’s own site and the search results themselves. When combined with SEO knowledge and experience, the SEO professional has what he or she needs to analyze the site and document a strategy to improve organic search performance….

Read the article in full at Practical Ecommerce » “SEO Audits: What to Expect.”


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How Information Architecture Impacts SEO

Excerpts from my latest article at Practical eCommerce: “SEO: Impact of Ecommerce Catalog Structure.”

Information architecture and search engine optimization are both critical aspects of developing an ecommerce site. During the process, early decisions made about the structure of a site and its product catalog can have surprising ramifications for SEO.

Which product types and attributes are assigned as categories, subcategories, and filters within the catalog impact much more than user experience. They also impact which pages the ecommerce platform will generate and how they’re interconnected in the navigation, both of which impact SEO.

Let’s use a hair care products site as an example. Say we’re selling shampoo, conditioner, and styling products for men, women, and children. Our products are tailored to normal, dry, oily, and chemically treated hair and offer an array of benefits like curl and shine. Two ways of organizing the product catalog begin with categorizing products by product type or by gender/age….

Read the article in full with helpful diagrams at Practical Ecommerce » “SEO: Impact of Ecommerce Catalog Structure.”


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Social Media’s Role in Search Result Domination

Excerpts from my latest article at Practical eCommerce: “Search Result Domination with Social Media.”

Social media and organic search work hand in hand, but not in the way most people think.

Building up a grand social media presence will not drive link authority back to your ecommerce site. The major social networks have long since stripped the link authority from their outbound links to discourage spammers. There are, however, many other ways that social media benefits search engine optimization, including search engine result page — SERP — domination.

Both social media and organic search are essential pieces of a strong content marketing strategy. Organic search helps drive customers to social media, and social media helps customers discover content they want to share and link to. SEO is not the only or best reason to run a strong social media marketing program, but it is certainly one more compelling argument for social media marketing.

A form of reputation management, SERP domination refers to the control of as many ranking slots on the first page of search results as possible with a brand’s own content. To promote diversity in the search results, the engines favor including a variety of domains. Even on a purely branded search, which the brand’s own domain should rank number one for, some portion of the first-page SERPs will feature other domains.

The more content a brand controls on those other domains, the more likely searchers are to choose one of the brand-owned results, and the better the brand can control the messages that searchers see in the SERPs….

Read the article in full at Practical eCommerce »


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