Pinterest Gaining Traction For External SEO

PinterestPinterest appears to be gaining traction really quickly right now. If you aren’t familiar with it, it’s a image sharing site which provides theme based “image boards” which people can “pin” items to (think of the old cork bulletin boards people hang on walls and pin photos and pieces of paper to).

It seems unusual to see a new image-sharing type of social media site to be gaining so much ground, and so quickly. This could be happening due to beneficial attention from influential people who may be serving as “mavens” as Malcolm Gladwell describes them. With significant people such as Jeremy Stoppelman (involved in early PayPal, Yelp, etc) as initial investors backing it, it has gotten pretty good industry attention.

I have written numerous times about image SEO and leveraging social media image sharing sites in the past as a means for building PageRank when doing search engine optimization, so I may have to update my comparison matrix for image sharing sites for SEO value in order to rank it.

Pinterest’s homepage has a toolbar PageRank value of 6 currently, but nearly 16 million pages are indexed! Even more wonderfully from a search marketer’s viewpoint, the dreaded NOFOLLOW tag is not in use as of yet, so links included with images can pass PageRank. For instance, this page of wedding photos contains links which pass PageRank (although, arguably the links could be slightly more optimal if they weren’t opened into new windows with the target=”_blank” parameters in the link tags). Pictures from are showing up nicely under image search results, too. Continue reading

Save The Date: Google’s Juiced-Up Freshness In Rankings Underscore Dates, Too

Paying Attention To Page Dates for SEO? Dates and Freshness as Google Search Ranking Factors.Last week’s announcement that Google has tweaked algorithms to rank fresher content higher in many cases (purportedly 35%! more often) isn’t a complete surprise for those who follow SEM Clubhouse. I previously wrote some on how Google may rank pages with dates higher and many of us in the SEO field have already known that freshness is an important factor for blog posts, news articles, and some other types of content such as images. But this current announcement indicates that the search engine views recency to be more important for a wider variety of content and topics than it was previously.

So, what does this mean in terms of displaying dates on pages as I earlier explored? Does the recent algo tweaking change my earlier recommendation that displaying dates on webpages may help rankings?

As you may recall, Michael Gray and I differed on this point — he suggested that one should opt out of having dates on pages because Google displays them willy-nilly in snippets, and they may frequently prejudice users from clicking through if other content with more recent dates is available in the same search results page. In contrast, I argued that Google’s usability testing apparently found that users often prefer to see the dates in the SERP listing snippets, and that factoid makes it an element that Google’s algorithm might prefer slightly for ranking purposes. Even if the algorithm didn’t give advantage to pages with dates, their research indicates that it might still increase user CTR to the webpage, which can indirectly improve rankings over time. Both Michael and I provided caveats, however, and acknowledged that their are exception cases.

In that earlier post, I provided a decision matrix which I believe supports my general stance that having the dates is likely beneficial in more cases than not. In it, the green check marks are cases where having the date is probably advantageous, while the red exxes indicate cases where it might not be helpful: Continue reading

Mind Your P’s & Q’s In Quality To Avoid Google’s Panda Updates

Last week at the SMX East conference in New York, I both sat in on sessions concerned with Google’s Panda algorithm updates and spoke on one of them. One thing which really struck me is how extraordinarily unified fellow search marketing experts were about both the causes and solutions to sites which were impacted by Panda! Each marketer spoke about improving sites’ quality, usability, and overall user experience (“UX”).

Mind your Ps & Qs to Avoid the Panda Updates
Panda photo by J. Patrick Fischer, CC BY-SA 3.0

For those of us who have been following Google’s evolution over time, the Panda updates actually weren’t all that surprising. For me, the emergence of Panda seemed very familiar, harkening back to perhaps as far back as 2006 when Google clamped down on affiliate sites. At that same time, Henk van Ess revealed how Google was hiring on temporary quality evaluation staff to rate search results. In Google internal documents which van Ess exposed, the evaluators were instructed to give poor ratings to spam content, porn ranking on inappropriate keyword phrases, and “thin affiliate content”. It became clear very quickly that the negative human ratings for “thin affiliate content” were related quite closely to the virtual penalization that many affiliate sites experienced at that time.

What Google was focusing upon in reducing the ratings of “thin affiliates” were instances where a search results page would be filled up with links to pages which all had virtually the same content, and where those pages often weren’t the final destinations of the people who landed upon them (obviously, with most affiliate sites one clicks-through to the actual retailer’s site where more information could be found and orders could be placed). From Google’s perspective, it was a poor user experience for there to be millions of pages indexed which had all essentially identical content and which often edged out other more-worthwhile pages which consumers might prefer.

From all of the information around the “Panda” Updates, it seems highly likely to me that Google is continuing to leverage their human quality evaluator staff, along with a number of other automated metrics which they could also incorporate in determining quality of pages. Continue reading

Google Now Imitates AOL With New Page Speed Service!

Google’s announcement of their new Page Speed Service was so very expected by me that it nearly didn’t form a blip on my radar screen when it flew by in my streams today! Google and AOL Page SpeedIt’s a sort of combination of Content Delivery Network (“CDN”) and automatic page code optimizer which will allow them to make your webpages more efficient at delivering and resolving in browser windows, and it will allow them to cache your site content on servers deployed around the world so that your content won’t have to travel as far through the network to reach anyone at the moment that it’s requested. It’d be super-cool, except this kind of technology was first invented by AOL! Let me explain. Continue reading

3 More Unorthodox Ideas For Local Citations & Links

You may have seen my article a few weeks back, “10 Unorthodox Ideas For Local Citations & Links“. In it, I outlined some unconventional local link-building and citation-building strategies which focus on doing things which might get others to do a lot of your local citation development work for you, and which might also increase the “Place Rank” of your business’s location.

For instance, if your place of business is located in an historic building, you might get it registered with the National Register of Historic Places or you might apply to get it designated a state historical marker. Doing either of those things would get the location intered into dozens if not hundreds of databases and directories, causing the address to get republished in numerous places, resulting in more prominence for the location and your business, by association. I’ve used this sort of tactic before to gain local citational references from Wikipedia.

This has been one of my secret tactics – most businesses may not merit an article in Wikipedia, but their building just might. And, Wikipedia content gets redistributed simply everywhere — even into Facebook! (Yes, Wiki links are nofollowed, but are local citations, hmmm?)

These round-about link-building ideas require some effort on your part to accomplish — they won’t happen in an instant click. However, they’re fairly robust and have some viral characteristics which can mean that you’ll focus on one project which may result in multiple high-quality links and citations.

So, what are some other, similar tactics you can use to nab some astonishing numbers of links and citations? Here are three more, in the same vein: Continue reading

12 Tips To Optimize For Google Instant Previews

Earlier today, I outlined how Google’s Instant Preview doesn’t display Maps, Flash, YouTube, AJAX, and lots of other rich media commonly found on webpages. If your site pages or homepage have this stuff on it, chances are your Instant Preview image is less-than-stellar and may actually reduce your CTR.

There are a lot of professional websites which have “borked” Instant Previews. For example, check out this Los Angeles dentist’s homepage, which appears with this jaunty giant jigsaw puzzle piece taking up most of its space:

Los Angeles Dentist Website Instant Preview

Google has said that the Instant Previews were found to improve their users’ satisfaction with search results significantly during internal testing prior to rolling out the feature. Users can rapidly glance at the preview images to see if the webpages might hold what they’re looking-for, increasing their confidence and helping them select webpages to click upon which are more likely to hold what they want, avoiding clicking on stuff they don’t want.

If that’s true, then the opposite is likely also to play into users’ behavior: if a preview image looks bad and doesn’t look like what they’d expect or want, they might avoid clicking on it.

For anyone who has a site which doesn’t look right in Google Instant Preview mode, this is alarming, since their introduction of this feature could wrongly reduce your clickthrough rates. Even if you’re not worried about the collective effect over time, you still are likely not thrilled that the image representing you may not reflect a true picture nor show you up in the best light.

I’ve been asked before on how to optimize for Google Instant Previews, so here are a few tips I’ve put together: Continue reading

Trust Seals Could Bang Up Conversions For Local Websites

Internet 500 Retailers have been in-the-know about one secret key to online success for quite some time: trust seals. Trust seals are graphic badges which adorn the websites of companies and are awarded based on whether the company and/or website meets certain criteria, such as if they meet security guidelines, quality measures or if they have honorable business practices. There are a handful of better-known trust seal organizations which usually provide the assessment and seal service in return for a fee.

For internet marketers, there’s a really compelling reason why one should seriously consider paying the fees and going through the steps for obtaining a trust seal: they can inspire consumer confidence.

Some of the more popular website trust seals include Trust Guard, ValidSafe, Merchant Safe, TRUSTe, VeriSign, McAfee Secure, and VeriSign.

Trust Seals, Trustmarks

There have been a number of different academic researcher studies which have found that trust seals can improve rates for online purchases. In one research paper from 2001, Myth or Reality: Effect of Trust-Promoting Seals in Electronic Markets,” Xiaorui Hu, Zhangxi Lin, and Han Zhang found that the seals can encourage consumers to buy from storefronts they are not familiar with, and that the seals that consumers recognized more influenced them more. David Gefen’s earlier paper, E-commerce: the role of familiarity and trust,” also found support for the theory that trust seals influenced online book purchase decisions.

However, online website trust seals decended from their offline counterparts, which already had a long history, if not track record. In 1894, due to faulty electrical parts causing fires, the National Board of Fire Underwriters started performing the first tests on the combustibility of insulation materials — their mark was the Underwriters Laboratory or “UL” seal of certification. But, even before that, seals of quality, certifications, trustmarks, and seals of approval have been in use by tradesmen or service providers. Royal seals of approval likely date back a few hundred years more.

Although there is not as much research on the subject, Continue reading

Google Local Search Ranking Keys: Relevance, Prominence & Distance

Google LBC Shop IconGoogle disclosed their three primary types of signals for local search rankings this past month in a blog post on LatLong. In it, they flat out stated that these are: Relevance, Prominence and Distance.

For those who’ve been following our articles and conference presentations for the past few years, none of these broad categories of signals come as any sort of a surprise.

Although Google LatLong declares in their post’s title that it’s about “How Local Search Ranking Works”, they’re still understandably obscure for the most part, and avoid providing all that many specifics. There’s a natural tension between informing businesses on how to provide Google with ideal information necessary for ranking, and providing so much info that search engine optimization specialists have “undue advantage” (from Google’s perspective).

So, I thought I’d take this opportunity to list out a number of more specific factors which could feed into Relevance, Prominence and Distance. Read on for a refresher on local search ranking factors which likely could contribute to each of these.
Continue reading

A Few Interpretations of Google’s Response to

All the recent hubbub over, and their claim that treating customers poorly in order to obtain more negative reviews resulted in better Google rankings, has left a small cloud of confusion. The ruckus was sufficient to get Google’s interest, and motivated them to react to it, but what they may have done is worth considering, not least because their statement around it has caused part of the confusion, perhaps purposefully.

First, it seems likely that Vitaly Borker, the offensive proprietor of Decor My Eyes, is likely not some stealth marketing genius. Rather, he sounds more like he rationalizes bad behavior in a variety of ways, according to the NYT article about him, and one of his prime beliefs is that negative ratings have helped his Google rankings. His supposed reasons for this were likely wrong by some degree, but he may’ve accidentally derived some benefits from the practice without knowing actual causality.

What makes him more important is that he got Google’s attention, and caused them to react — or claim they’ve reacted — by making some changes to their algorithms. It’s possible that Google responded mainly out of concern over negative press. It’s also possible that they may’ve said they’ve made a change but did not, but it seems equally possible that they could have indeed tweaked their algorithm. The incident really seems to call for us to consider that “where there’s smoke, there may be fire.” Continue reading

New Year’s SEO Resolution: Update Your Copyright Statement Dates

In the last few days, I’ve reviewed a few different large websites which have utterly neglected to update their copyright statement dates to reflect the current year.

Copyright statement dates have been something I increasingly check on websites that I audit for search engine optimization purposes, because of a few different things.

Copyright as an SEO Ranking Factor

First of all, it’s now established that Google has been giving special treatment to content dates found on webpages. I’ve written before on the subject of whether dates on pages might be used as a search engine ranking factor. As I wrote previously, Google’s been parsing date information out of pages already, and they’ve decided to often lump these dates into the snippet found below listings of pages in search results. They’ve stated that their usability testing has established that for many types of content, consumers would like to see the date. I’ve argued that it could be a ranking factor, but whether it is or isn’t is virtually secondary to the positive effect that it likely would have on influencing clickthrough behavior.

One type of date that Google typically does not display in the search snippets are the more commonly-used date included with the copyright statement found on most corporations’ webpage footers. However, it’s my belief that Google is likely to be paying attention to this page parameter just as much as they focus upon content update dates, although for slightly different reasons. Read on and I’ll elaborate. Continue reading