Sometimes You Can’t Fight the Rankings

Excerpts from my latest article at NBC 5 Chicago’s Inc. Well blog: “Why You Can’t Fight Search-Engine Results.”

Searchers ultimately control what a search phrase “means” and what types of content are relevant for a search query. A business selling furniture pads might be 100 percent certain that they sell “protective pads,” and therefore have the right to rank highly for searches for “protective pads.” But they’d be wrong.

A quick search in Google shows that nine out of 10 of the results for “protective pads” actually refer to sporting goods like knee pads for skaters. For a bit of diversity, one listing for incontinence pads also shows up on page one. At the bottom, the “searches related to protective pads” section displays some suggests for furniture-related queries. Google doesn’t consider any sites featuring furniture pads highly relevant to search queries for “protective pads.”

So, if you sell furniture pads, do you want to hang your SEO hopes on the phrases you think you should rank for, like “protective pads?” Probably not, and here’s why….

Read the article in full at Inc. Well » “Why You Can’t Fight Search-Engine Results.”

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Originally posted on Web PieRat.

Accessorize Your SERPs for More Search Traffic

Excerpts from my latest article at NBC 5 Chicago’s Inc. Well: “How to Increase Your Search-Result Click-Throughs

A lot of the focus in search-engine optimization concentrates on ranking for valuable keyword phrases. But are results for your pages that do rank in the search results visually optimized to drive click through to your site? Try these search-result optimization techniques to bring some bling to your search results this holiday season.



The sample search results from Google shown above are highlighted in red and green for a reason: The red boxes indicate items present in the search result thanks to what Google calls “rich snippets” and the green boxed items are simply updates to the title tag or meta description for that page. Taking advantage of these techniques can help your search result stand out from the crowd of 10 blue links to win the click, even if it isn’t ranked first in the search results.

Let’s cover rich snippets first. Many sites contain reviews or video or pricing information, but not all of them have these visual cues included in search results. The search engines rely on structured data in the HTML code of the webpage to identify the content that belongs in these rich snippets. If the content is already on the page, using a structured markup format like MicrodataMicroformats or RDFa will alert the search engines that the marked up content should be considered for inclusion in a rich snippet. Keep in mind that optimizing for rich snippets won’t improve your rankings, they will only help you stand out when you already rank….

Details on each in the full post at NBC 5 Chicago’s Inc. Well >>

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Originally posted on Web PieRat.

SEO & Google Shopping


Excerpts from my latest article at Practical eCommerce: “Google Shopping’s Impact on SEO.”

Over the next several months, Google’s free Product Search feature will start costing ecommerce sites a lot more. Since the launch of Google’s Froogle in 2002, Google has provided a free product search service. The newly launched Google Shopping marks the first time that the company has converted a free service to a pay-for-placement model. Search marketers wonder, what does this mean to organic search?

For those who focus purely on search engine optimization, the change may actually be a positive. Some of the placement tests for Google Shopping results actually improve the organic results’ position on the page compared with other paid modules. For example, a search for “teddy bears” before the move to Google Shopping would have resulted in the result at left below. The shopping results are beneath the paid results, pushing the organic search results lower on the page. We can only see one full organic result in this image, and the top of the second.


Today’s shopping results are still in flux as Google tests the best placement for these new ads, but many of the placement experiments are appearing in the upper right. In the example above and to the right, the shopping results appear as an anchor point for the paid search ads, to the right of the top block and above the right block. As a result, Google is able to squeeze two more organic results into the same space that the previous shopping module had taken up.

The experiments are still running, however, with the full launch set for sometime this fall. Until then, Google will likely continue to test and revise placement of the shopping modules to find the balance it needs to strike between revenue and searcher satisfaction….

Read the article in full at Practical eCommerce »

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Originally posted on Web PieRat.

Migrating Your Site? SEO Checklist

Excerpts from my latest article at Practical eCommerce: “SEO Site Migration Checklist.”

Migrating a site to a new platform or domain, or implementing a major redesign, are some of the most stressful situations in search engine optimization. The potential for massively impacting organic search traffic and sales is higher during these launches than at any other time. With planning and priority on the SEO impact of the launch it’s possible to actually improve SEO performance after a major launch event.

However, most sites neglect to include an SEO professional in the planning, design, development and launch phases of the project, typically resulting in a loss of SEO performance post-launch. While an experienced SEO professional can certainly come in afterwards to guide the team through a strategy to revive the site’s SEO performance, this process typically takes three to six months of planning, rework from the design and development teams, and a loss of traffic and revenue in the interim.

Speaking from experience helping clients through many platform changes, redesigns, domain moves and other assorted SEO pitfalls, these are my best tips for arriving at the other end of the launch with your SEO safely intact.

Read the article in full for 2,000 words worth of SEO site migration tips at Practical eCommerce »

Migrating a site is always a complex process and should always include an SEO professional. Just as a marketing team wouldn’t dream of replatforming or redesigning without information architecture expertise, the same logic needs to apply to search engine optimization. The stakes are too high in terms of organic search traffic and revenue to risk cutting corners on SEO.

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Originally posted on Web PieRat.

Using Social Signals to Personalize Organic Search

Excerpts from my latest article at Resource Interactive’s weThink blog: “How Social Media Boosts Organic Search.”

Search engines like Google develop algorithms to determine the quality of a site’s content as well as its contextual relevance and link popularity. Site quality is a pretty nebulous concept for a piece of software to understand, but search engineers have linked social signals such as Facebook’s Likes, shares and comments, Google+’s shares, +1s and comments, and Twitter’s tweets and retweets to the quality of the page being shared. The more shares, the higher quality a page must be. There are other quality signals in play as well — hundreds of signals factor into each engine’s algorithm — but social signals are thought to be harder to manipulate than linking signals.

The most obvious way that social signals impact search results is in each individual searcher’s personalized search. For example, a Google search for “social search” returns different search results depending on whether I’m logged in to my Google account. On the left below are the search results I see when I’m logged out of Google search. On the right below are the results for the same search when I’m logged in to my Google account.

The point is that I may be the only person who will see this exact personalized search result. My circle of friends in Google+ shared 130 items relevant to the phrase “social search.” To have the same set of results, you would have to have those same 130 friends in your Google+ circles….

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

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Originally posted on Web PieRat.