Custom Tag Clouds Made Easy

I like to use a tag cloud generator to visibly demonstrate the keyword density on a page. It’s a great way for a client to visualize which words are most frequently used on their page from a search engine’s perspective. Yes, keyword prominence (where you put the keywords) is more important than keyword density (number or times the keyword is being used), but as a quick way to help the client or your team understand which words that are really on the page for search engines word clouds are great tools.

For instance, the owner looks at their homepage and sees a beautifully branded design with promotions and marketing messages and navigation and calls to action. But what they don’t consider is that all of that lovely information that may or may not contain valuable keywords is hidden inside of images or other areas that search engines can’t read. For example, from this tag cloud you can easily see why my daughter’s favorite online game site Poptropica won’t be ranking for “online kids games” anytime soon:

poptropica word cloud
Look how few words are available for search engines on

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Amplifying SEO Keyword Signals

Excerpts from my latest article at Practical eCommerce: “SEO: How to Amplify Keyword Signals.”

Search engine optimization is all about “signal” and “amplification.” The signal is simply using relevant keywords. Amplification is about how to use those keywords and encourage linking and sharing. Think of the keywords as the voice of a site and the amplification as a megaphone. The site shouting the loudest and most relevant signals at the search engines will win better rankings for a search and potentially win new customers as well.

Keyword research is critical, but keywords are useless until they are used in some way on a website. How those keywords are used to optimize the content makes the keywords either whisper or shout to search engines.

Content Optimization: Unmuting the Keywords

To give keywords a voice, simply place them on a website. Cramming all the keywords onto a single glossary page will make each keyword whisper so softly as to be inaudible to search engines. But placing a single keyword at the beginning of the title tag for the page for which it’s most relevant turns the signal for that page up to polite dinner conversation level.

Read the article in full at Practical eCommerce »

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Originally posted on Web PieRat.

Is It Duplicate Content or Just Undifferentiated?

More on one of my favorite topics: duplicate content. Finding it, finding its source, fixing it — it’s like a big geeky puzzle.

Excerpts from my latest article at Resource Interactive’s weThink blog: “Duplicate Content: Destroy or Differentiate.”

Duplicate content is an often misunderstood part of search engine optimization. Most digital marketers know it’s bad, but why? Duplicate content (two or more pages with different URLs that display the same content) makes it harder for a site to rank and drive traffic and conversions.


If 20 URLs each display the same page of content for red shoes, then all the links pointing to that page across a site are split across 20 different URLs. The page would have much more ranking power if all those links were pointing to a single URL. And that’s just internal links; consider the impact of splitting more valuable links from other sites across multiple URLs for the same page. Then add on the Facebook Likes, tweets, +1s, blog links and other actions that signal popularity to search engines, all split across 20 different URLs for that single page of content. In addition, duplicate content burns crawl equity, slowing a search engine’s progress as it crawls through a site to discover fresh new content.

But sometimes, content only looks like it’s duplicate. This is a common issue with ecommerce platforms that offer filtering options for better usability. The filters tend to create new slices of category content that look the same to search engines as the original default category page. For example, a category page of red shoes might have a filter for shoe style that includes tennis shoes, slip-on shoes, flats, high heels, etc. These are valuable pages to shoppers and searchers alike. But search engines can only determine the differences between each of the filters if the page sends differentiating signals in its title tag, headings and other textual content on the page.

Read more to find out how to tell if content is duplicate of merely needs differentiating: “Duplicate Content: Destroy or Differentiate.”

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

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Originally posted on Web PieRat.

SEO Impact of Ratings, Reviews and Comments

My latest article at Practical Ecommerce, read it in full here.


Content that consumers leave on an ecommerce site can improve the site’s search engine optimization, if the platforms and underlying code are set up optimally. Ratings, reviews and comments each play a part in SEO, utilizing the words and opinions that real shoppers voice to strengthen optimization.

In aggregate, these types of content fall under the label of user-generated content. I wrote in more detail about reviews and SEO here, in “SEO: Letting Customers Generate Long Tail Search Terms.” The gist of that article still stands. Optimizing a site manually for the millions of phrases that could drive one or two converting customers just isn’t scalable. User generated content such as reviews and question-and-answer sections can solve the problem by outsourcing long tail optimization to your own customers. In addition to reviews, though, ratings and comments have their place in ecommerce SEO as well.

Reviews for SEO

When review content displays on the relevant product page, it boosts the keyword theme for that individual product page. Most reviews vendors — such as Bazaarvoice — offer product variations that display the reviews on the product pages in a crawlable manner, but some don’t. At the same time, Google and Bing are getting better at crawling the JavaScript that has traditionally kept crawlers out of juicy review content. An easy way to check whether reviews content is crawlable is to just Google a random chunk of the review content and see if it appears in the search results.

For example, the Asics Women’s GEL-Blur 33 on has six reviews. But are they crawlable? To find out, copy a unique-looking chunk of a review and Google it in quotes like this:

“Asics have never let me down! I love these shoes because they look good and they provide awesome support for all kinds of workouts and the best part is I can wear them out and get tons of compliments!”

Read more »

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Originally posted on Web PieRat.

From Keywords to Content: How to Optimize for SEO

My latest article at Practical Ecommerce, read it in full here.

I discussed keyword research and keyword mapping in detail in the previous two articles in this series on content optimization. But keyword research is like any form of data collection and analysis: It won’t drive a single additional organic search visit or sale until it’s acted upon. With their keyword maps firmly in hand, content creators and search marketers can effectively and efficiently create or optimize content that turns those potentially valuable keywords into real search-engine-optimization traffic.

It’s obvious when content is written for search engines instead of customers. It tends to focus on high keyword density — having a higher ratio of keywords to other words — and tends to lack readability and interest. Instead of this, inform writers of the keyword theme for the page and let them write freely and creatively with the keywords and the brand messaging in mind. When they’re finished writing, go back over the fresh copy with an eye to replacing some phrases with keyword phrases. Be careful not to kill the spirit of the content in the process.

Where keywords are placed can have a big impact on how strong a keyword relevance signal they send to the search engines. This is referred to as “keyword prominence.” If a page is meant to rank for “online games for girls” but the keywords related to that phrase aren’t used on the page in prominent places, it will have a difficult time ranking. So before we start flinging words around the page, keep these content optimization guidelines in mind.

Read more of this article on Content Optimization»

The Complete Series: “Optimizing a Page for Search Engines”

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Originally posted on Web PieRat.