- Online Marketing
Happened on a fantastic article about backlinks and organic strategies, it’s a must read for my industry!
The backlink within the practice of SEO is an ongoing topic of conversation for marketing, sales, delivery and reporting of SEO services. Even in a post Penguin world, SEO professionals are still asking questions such as:
In our post Penguin world, the right and wrong approaches to backlinking strategies should be clear, yet I continue to hear SEOs talk about how backlinking is dead, where the best place is to buy backlinks, and whether backlinking even matters anymore.
The fact is, the backlink is and will continue to be a fundamental variable in organic search algorithms and organic search strategies. Backlinks matter. Period. The only question you need to ask yourself is: Is this an organic backlink or an inorganic backlink?
SEO and backlinks on the web can’t exist without each other. It is worth getting back to the backlink basics and considering the origins of SEO and backlinking to understand the importance and reliance they have on each other.
An SEO strategy is about one thing: being found organically by your customers and prospects for highly converting keywords; keywords that are relevant to your audience. Relevance of content is earned when diversified, relevant content sources with authority and influence reference your content. Or, in other words, link to it.
A backlinking strategy is simply about these three concepts:
Every backlink you build should pass the RAID test.
If you’re able to answer yes to these three questions, then you likely have an organic backlink that is going to positively impact your organic search visibility.
If you can’t answer yes to these three questions, then you have an inorganic backlink that will have no impact on organic search results and may even penalize your web presence at some point in the future.
In the academic world, when content is published in the form of a thesis there are citations within the content that point to other relevant content from authoritative sources that support the content, thus making it more relevant to the reader. Sounds like a backlink.
Google’s origins are academic in nature, having started as a research project at Stanford University. Larry Page was focused on, “the problem of finding out which web pages link to a given page, considering the number and nature of such backlinks to be valuable information about that page (with the role of citations in academic publishing in mind).”
The research project then went on, “to convert the backlink data that it gathered into a measure of importance for a given web page.” The output was, “for a given URL … a list of backlinks ranked by importance” or relevance.
That was 1996. Seventeen years later, relevancy is still at the core of Google’s organic search algorithm, especially when it comes down to backlinks.
Roll up your sleeves and get to work. The really great organic backlinks that are going to add long-term value to your web presence, digital footprint and organic search positions and conversions won’t happen overnight by buying or trading them, or submitting to directories. Remember, inorganic backlinks don’t pass the RAID test.
Building organic backlinks takes a lot of heavy lifting in an approach called Optimized Content Marketing. Publishing fresh, relevant, optimized content on a continuous basis through industry blog sites, press releases, white papers and case studies that demonstrate knowledge and thought leadership, plus socializing the content through your social networks will create a strong inventory of organic backlinks over time.
This long-term approach to SEO will also protect you from any future Google algorithm changes and will make it extremely difficult for your competitors to outrank you.
Every year, somebody proclaims that SEO is dead simply because Google has made some changes to its algorithm. But don’t worry, this post won’t be declaring that SEO is dead, dying, or even coughing up blood.
However, the days of SEO as a distinct, independent discipline are certainly numbered. SEO is fast evolving into a more creative, diverse, and challenging profession.
Over the last few years the changes to search algorithms and user behavior on the Internet have made “old” SEO almost redundant. It’s even gotten to the stage where any so-called “SEO” who’s still using the same techniques from 5 years ago will actually be doing more harm than good. These days, search engines and consumers want quality, engagement, and social proof.
The SEO landscape has changed, and the current shift can be defined by a single concept: integration.
This is a term that we will start to hear a lot more in the world of search. As the search engines widen their gaze and perfect the techniques they use to measure content quality, brand sentiment and relevance, the optimization of a site for search will increasingly overlap with other marketing disciplines.
Over the next couple of years SMI will become a pre-requisite for a first-page listing on Google. SMI will revolutionize the entire organization’s approach to sales, marketing, PR, branding and everything in between.
For an SMI practitioner, success will be tied to the ability to integrate SEO tactics across an organization’s marketing department. Politics, leverage, and action will be equally as important as title tags, link building, and keyword themes.
Let’s take a granular look at how SMI will impact the various areas of the marketing landscape:
The trouble is many small businesses struggle to get Google Analytics set up, let alone use it to pull out meaningful data. This easy to follow guide will take you through the set-up process and help you understand how your website’s performing.
This is a great tool to help you get going.
For the second straight month Bing saw its U.S. search engine market share on the rise. Meanwhile, Google held steady, duplicating its record share of the search market, while Yahoo held steady after 10 months of declines, comScore reported.
|comScore Explicit Core Search Share Report*
July 2012 vs. June 2012
Total U.S. – Home & Work Locations
Source: comScore qSearch
|Core Search Entity||Explicit Core Search Share (%)|
|Total Explicit Core Search||100.0%||100.0%||N/A|
Google’s dominant share of the U.S. search engine market remained at 66.8 percent in July. Google attained its record 66.8 percent market share for the first time in June. Google had a 65.1 percent of the search market in July 2011.
Bing grew for the second straight month, upping its market share from 15.6 percent in June to 15.7 percent in July. Bing was at 14.4 percent in July 2011.
For Yahoo, there was good news: Yahoo search (which is powered by Bing) didn’t lose any market share for the first time in 10 months, holding steady at 13 percent. The bad news? Last July, Yahoo’s search share was a much healthier 16.1 percent.
Ask saw slight gains, growing from 3 percent in June to 3.1 percent in July. Ask was at 2.9 percent in July 2011. Meanwhile, AOL remained unchanged month over month and year over year, at 1.5 percent.
From June to July, Google- and Bing-powered organic searches remained unchanged, at 69 percent and 25.6 percent, respectively.
“Explicit core” searches grew 2 percent – from 17.1 billion in June to 17.7 percent in July. Google led the way with 11.8 billion searches (up from 11.4 billion in June); second-place Bing accounted for 2.7 billion (up from 2.6 billion in June); Yahoo was third at 2.2 billion (unchanged); Ask was fourth with 548 million searches (up from 516 million); and AOL came in fifth with 264 million searches (down from 265 million).
As a local business owner, you know it’s important to market your business online so that you can be found by local consumers. But, it’s also important to know how sites like the Google search engine work and how to conduct searches that can help you – as a business owner and a consumer – find the information you want and need.
To help you become a better searcher, Google has put together a series of six online courses aimed at helping small business owners do just that, complete with video lessons and activities to practice what you learned. Here are a few lessons from the courses to help you learn a little more about how Google search works and how to get more out of it as a searcher. For more in-depth information, make sure to check out the entire program on Google’s power searching site.
How Google Search Works
What exactly happens when you conduct a search on Google? From spiders to indexing to PageRank, this video from Matt Cutts illustrates the process to help you better understand exactly how Google search works.
The Art of Keyword Choices
When you search something on Google, how do you choose the keywords you want to search in order to get the best results? This is a critical skill to learn in order to become a more effective searcher – and it’s important to understand how consumers are selecting keywords when they search for local businesses. This video recommends three simple tips for picking the right term to conduct a search on:
Reading the Search Engine Results Page (SERP)
Have you ever heard or seen the term “SERP”? This stands for search engine results page, and it’s the result you will see after tying a search term into Google. This video offers more information on understanding SERPs and how to read them.
ReachLocal newest offer, Reach Retargeting. Keyword level retargeting coupled with site level retargeting.
The question went from “What is search retargeting?” to “Where can I get it?” and finally “How do I take my search retargeting campaign to the next level?” While there are far too many topics to address in one post, let’s take a look at the first, and most important, component: the keyword lists.
Since search retargeting relies heavily on keyword lists to determine which consumers to target and which to ignore, starting the campaign using the right keyword lists makes a world of difference in how fast a search retargeting campaign reaches desired performance.
Many advertisers think that matching their SEM list is the best way to generate a keyword list, and indeed, it’s a good place to start. However, it’s important for marketers to understand that search retargeting is an extension of SEM, and keyword lists must scale beyond SEM for search retargeting campaigns.
Let’s consider the consumer funnel compared to corresponding ad targeting strategies. Interest based targeting is at the top of the funnel and typically powers brand awareness campaigns. As we move down the funnel we come to the mid to lower funnel targeting strategies, which tend to support targeted brand awareness and direct response-based campaigns.
To run a search retargeting campaign, a search retargeting partner needs to cookie a user and then target them again once they find them across their display media.
This means that there could be a gap of minutes, hours or even days between when a user performs a search and when the search retargeting partner actually sees that user again and is able to show them the relevant ad.
Since SEM campaigns target users on the next page following the search, they need to drive them to the advertiser’s page right away. If they don’t, game over. As a result, SEM campaigns tend to target users who are ready to convert in the next few minutes.
Let’s take Best Buy, a large electronics retailer, as an example. An SEM campaign for Best Buy might be targeting the term “Best Buy 50 inch Sony plasma TV sale.” This user is likely to convert in a small window of time, as he/she clearly knows exactly what they’re looking for and even the store they’re looking to buy from.
Conclusion: If a search retargeting company were to target users who searched for this term, they’d be showing an ad to someone who has most likely already converted and would therefore be wasting ad impressions, and more importantly ad dollars.
To run a successful search retargeting campaign, the advertiser needs to target keywords that indicate when a user is in a purchase or consideration mindset, but hasn’t made up his or her mind just yet. As a result, it’s important to target terms that wouldn’t necessarily be included in an SEM campaign due to the example shown above.
From Frost Prioleau, Search & Display, August 2011
Using the example above, a user searching for “plasma TV comparison” or “online plasma TV store” is someone Best Buy should definitely target. While the user might be a week away from converting, Best Buy should get in front of them during the consideration set, so that the brand is top of mind further down the purchasing funnel.
Conclusion: By limiting keywords to a brand’s SEM list, the advertiser might miss out on engaging consumers during the consideration phase, and pushing new customers through the funnel.
Marketers and their partners must work together to prune the advertiser’s SEM list and they must utilize a keyword generation tool that takes into account mid and upper funnel terms. It’s not just a semantic issue. This has ramifications for strategy.
Digital agencies and brand marketers need to be smarter about crafting and researching target terms that might be deemed too mid or upper funnel for an SEM campaign.
The goal of search retargeting is to take users at that stage in their decision-making and drive them to a specific advertiser or product. That means driving them down the funnel, and the right keywords can be the right fuel for the journey.
As reports circulate Google is about to enter into a record privacy settlement with the FTC, just how bad is Google’s privacy record compared to other major tech companies?
The Wall Street Journal (subscription required) reports that Internet giant Google is on the verge of agreeing to a $22.5 million settlement with the FTC to put to rest charges that it violated iOS users’ privacy by intentionally bypassing the built-in privacy controls in Apple’s Safari Web browser so Google could track their browsing habits. If the settlement lays out as reported, it would represent the single largest penalty ever assessed against a single company by the Federal Trade Commission. Even though $22.5 million barely represents half a day’s income to Google, it’s probably not a achievement Google will memorialize with a bronze plaque outside its Mountain View headquarters.
This isn’t the first time Google has run afoul of the FTC over user privacy concerns. What’s the basis of the current case and how does it compare to Google’s privacy record with U.S. regulators? And does Google even stand out amongst tech companies taken to task by the FTC over privacy issues?
The current case being investigated by the FTC surrounds Apple’s Safari Web browser, both in iOS devices like the iPhone and iPad as well as Apple’s desktop Mac OS X operating system. Since Safari debuted as a desktop browser all the way back in 2003, it has had a default setting to block third party cookies — it also featured a “privacy reset” option for clearing cookies and other browser settings. Safari 2.0 (from 2005) was the first to enable a “private browsing” mode — many ridiculed it as a way for Mac user to surf porn sites, but it also offered effective protection against first- and third-party cookies as well as being tracked by (many still-nascent) advertising networks.
As Google became a major force in online advertising — in part through acquisitions like Doubeclick and AdMob — Google wanted a way to serve personalized ad content and things like its “+1″ buttons to signed-in Google users. It did so using a post-back mechanism that enabled it to set cookies in the Safari browser even if the browser was set to disallow third-party cookies. (Stanford grad student Jonathan Mayer analyzed technical details of the mechanism.) One could argue that Google was only able to do this because of a flaw in Safari, but Google did more with the technique than just determine if users were signed in to Google and had agreed to receive personalized advertising: the technique also let Google install tracking cookies. So, even if users were blocking third party cookies in Safari (the default) and were not signed in to Google, Google could still track their actions through not just Google’s own sites, but any sites that carried Google advertising or services. Given the near-ubiquity of things like YouTube and Google’s AdSense advertising services, that’s a major chunk of the Internet.
Google has maintained it did nothing wrong, and began deleting the tracking cookies as soon as it became aware they were being set. It characterized the bypass technique as “known Safari functionality,” said it was deleting any data it gathered as a result of the cookies and that no harm was done to consumers. However, Google did collect information about all Safari users it encountered, regardless of whether they had a Google account, were signed in to it, or had agreed to accept social advertising; however, there is no indication Google shared that information with other companies. Nonetheless, Google may well have profited from knowing more about Safari users’ browsing habits than its competitors.
The FTC isn’t alone investigating these issues: several states’ attorneys general have launched their own probes, and European regulators are also investigating Google’s bypassing of Safari’s built-in privacy tools.
The Safari situation puts Google in hot water because the company had previously entered into a 20-year consent decree in 2011 for “deceptive privacy practices” surrounding the launch of Google Buzz. In that case, Google escaped having to pay any fines, but it did agree to implement a comprehensive privacy program, and subject itself to regular independent privacy audits for 20 years.
Google Buzz, for folks who don’t recall, was Google’s initial ill-fated effort to leverage its widely used Gmail service into a social networking platform. To launch the service, Google enrolled Gmail users in aspects of Google Buzz without their consent, which resulted in details of users’ contacts and correspondents automatically being disclosed to other users — in some cases even if they declined to try out Google Buzz. By the end of the year, Google had killed off Google Buzz and switched its focus to Google+, but the damage was done: Google had not only flubbed its first serious move into social networking, it had brought down 20 years of federal scrutiny about its privacy practices too.
As a result of the Buzz fiasco, Google can be liable for up to $16,000 per day that it violates its consent agreement with the FTC. If the $22.5 million figure cited by the Wall Street Journal is accurate and the $16,000-per-day fine is the basis for the penalty, that could mean Google would essentially admit it was tracking using Safari users without their consent for the better part of four years.
A number of federal agencies monitor aspects of many Internet companies’ businesses. Google doesn’t just tangle with the FTC. Just a few months ago the Federal Communications Commission fined Google a paltry $25,000 for collecting personal information with its Street View vehicles as it cruised by Wi-Fi hotspots. However, although it’s a small agency, the Federal Trade Commission is primarily responsible for consumer protection. How have other Internet giants fared with the FTC?
Not so well, as it turns out. Perhaps the most public settlement with the FTC over privacy issues was from social networking giant Facebook: the FTC accused Facebook of failing to keep a number of privacy-related promises it made to users, including making formerly-private information public, sharing data with third parties without user consent, keeping data around and accessible even after accounts were deleted, and falsely claiming it complied with the U.S.-EU Safe Harbor Framework for data transfer. For all that and more, however, Facebook paid no penalties — but it did agree to the same 20 years of independent, third-party privacy audits later applied to Google.
Social networking aggregator Spokeo also had to settle with the FTC — and it didn’t get off for free, agreeing to pay $800,000 to settle charges it violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act as well as “astroturfing” by posting false endorsements of its services to blogs and Web sites. However, unlike Google and Facebook, Spokeo isn’t a primarily consumer-facing service. Rather, it collects and aggregates information about individuals from social networking sites and the Internet, bundles it up, and sells it to recruiters, background screeners, and human resources departments — if you’ve ever had a foul-mouthed tweet or drunken Facebook photo come back to haunt you during a job interview, Spokeo may be why. The FTC alleged, among other things, that Spokeo failed to comply with requirements governing consumer reporting agencies.
What about social networking sites? Believe it or not, in May MySpace had to work a settlement with the FTC for sharing personal information with third parties without user consent. Sound similar to Facebook? It does: and, like Facebook, MySpace didn’t have to pay a penny, but did have to agree to having its privacy practices audited for the next 20 years.
Twitter hasn’t emerged unscathed either — although the circumstances are different. Twitter agreed to have its security and privacy practices audited for 20 years as a result of two security breaches in January and May of 2009 during which attackers were able to get administrative access to Twitter — including accessing private information and the ability to generate phony tweets. In these instances, Twitter didn’t promise one thing and do another — it promised users privacy and wound up getting hacked. Something similar happened with game site Rock You, from which hackers managed to glean some 32 million email addresses during an attack. However, Rock You also wound up agreeing to pay $250,000 in penalties because it also collected personal information from nearly 180,000 children without their parents’ consent, in violation of the Child Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which bars the collection or sharing of children’s information online without their parents’ consent.
COPPA has been at the core of settlements the FTC has reached with many technology companies, including Broken Thumbs Apps, Skidekids, and Xanga.com. The Xanga case (from 2006) involved the highest fine ever levied for a COPPA violation: $1 million. Xanga knowingly collecting and disclosing information about 1.7 million children age 13 and under without parents’ consent over a period of five years.
Even Microsoft has run afoul of COPPA. Back in 2002 the company reached a settlement with the FTC that its Passport single sign-in and wallet service was designed to let users easily and safely make purchased from participating merchants, and even set up accounts for kids that limited collection of personal information by participating sites; among other things, Microsoft was found to have misrepresented what information was shared with third parties about children.
EBay Inc and Wal-Mart Stores Inc are developing new Web search engines to better compete against Amazon.com Inc in the fast-growing e-commerce market.
As more people shop online, they often end up at the top of a website typing in a product name. If they cannot find what they want quickly, they will likely go to a rival website or venture into a physical store.
“Amazon is on version 8.0 of search,” said Scot Wingo, chief executive of ChannelAdvisor, which helps merchants sell more online. “EBay is at 2.0, but they are thinking about how they make this huge leap to 3.0.”
The stakes are high because e-commerce is a huge, fast-growing market, putting billions of dollars in sales up for grabs. U.S. retail spending online grew 13 percent to $161.5 billion last year, according to comScore. Physical retail sales are much larger, but the sector is struggling to grow and losing share to online operators.
COMING SOON … CASSINI
EBay’s search technology, known as Voyager, dates back to the first dot-com boom a decade ago. After the company appointed Mark Carges as chief technology officer in 2008, he tested eBay’s search engine by typing in “iPod.” A car topped the list of results because the seller noted in the listing title that it came with an iPod adapter.
“Search was clearly broken in 2008,” Carges said.
Since then, eBay has gone on a hiring spree to fix search. The number of employees working in that area has tripled to more than 150. EBay also poached several engineers from Microsoft Corp’s Bing search unit, including Ken Moss, who runs the Seattle office, and Hugh Williams, who oversees eBay’s new search engine, Cassini, to be rolled out in 2013.
“More customers, plus better search, means people buy more stuff,” eBay Chief Executive John Donahoe said in a recent interview.
Cassini will trawl full product descriptions, rather than just the titles of listings, and match search queries to photographs of products, while taking into account information about the seller and the buyer.
By crunching data on what shoppers have bought and browsed on eBay in the past, Cassini search results should be more tailored to their intent. For instance, if a shopper types in “HP,” Cassini will know if the person means horsepower or Hewlett-Packard Co, Williams said.
“Voyager is pretty literal. It takes a query and matches it faithfully against the title of items. It’s not intuitive,” he said. “Cassini will take the user’s query and understand that.”
The search engine project takes time because eBay’s online marketplace has so much variable information from millions of listings that are described differently by each seller – something known as unstructured data in the tech world.
In contrast, Amazon typically starts with a catalog of items it has for sale, including strict product descriptions, which are easier to search.
Threat to Google?
Wal-Mart recently launched a new search engine on its website that was built in less than nine months with 10 to 15 developers, according to Anand Rajaraman, who helps run the discount retailer’s Silicon Valley tech arm @WalmartLabs.
The new search technology focuses on groups of related terms and phrases people use when describing products, rather than matching queries to exact words in listings.
“Wal-Mart’s search knows that a backyard chair is the same as a patio chair or a garden chair,” Rajaraman said. “These product listings will come up on that search too.”
If eBay and Wal-Mart can vastly improve search on their websites, that could eventually threaten Google Inc, the world’s leading Internet search company.
“Google doesn’t want you to go directly to eBay to search for products,” said Oren Etzioni, a search expert at the University of Washington’s computer science department. “A lot of what funds these search efforts are e-commerce ads. If eBay and others stop advertising as much on Google, that would be a problem.”
GitHub: Software description: a software to manage books in the computer (C#). →
Yahoo Small Business hopes to grow by offering small businesses an integrated marketing dashboard to manage and expand their digital marketing efforts. The Yahoo Marketing Dashboard, generally available today, provides a consolidated view of a business’s marketing results and reputation.
Tom Byun, general manager, Yahoo Small Business, said the company has almost 10 million small business users of products including Yahoo Finance and mail, as well as “intendeds.” “This is a very proven, long-standing business that’s also highly profitable,” Byun said. “We’re now taking it beyond web hosting to, ‘How can you help me grow my business and manage it day-to-day?’ “
American Express Open is one of the launch sponsors of the management system, which also promotes non-Yahoo marketing platforms like Orange Soda and Constant Contact.
The Yahoo Marketing Dashboard has four components: search engine and directory listings; online reputation management; campaign tracking; and site traffic analysis.
Byun could not confirm that Yahoo Small Business will be placed under the new Commerce division mentioned as part of the restructuring promised by new CEO Scott Thompson, but, with display advertising sales down, the Yahoo Marketing Dashboard could be a solid revenue play.
First, it may convert some of those 10 million potential customers into paying customers for its web hosting and commerce offerings, as well as upgrading users from free to premium versions. Yahoo also gets a lead generation fee for every customer it refers to email firm Constant Contact and digital marketing platform OrangeSoda. To that effect, a recommendation to use OrangeSoda’s search engine marketing services is at the top of the overview page.
The dashboard lets SMBs see whether the company is listed in some 100 sites and directories, including Yelp and Yahoo Local. Anything that doesn’t match what Yahoo has on file is flagged with red.
Online reputation management pulls information from up to 8,000 sources (including Facebook and Twitter), providing a bar chart score for the company’s reputation. The free version also shows the two most recent comments and reviews that have been made.
The dashboard provides tracking for search engine marketing and search engine optimization. SMBs that use Constant Contact or OrangeSoda also can pull those campaigns into the dashboard. Shannon Parker, director of product marketing for Yahoo Small Business, said Yahoo plans to add a few more vendors to the mix.
Website analytics tools let SMBs see key website performance metrics, including Google Analytics results.
The destination also includes news and advice from the recently launched Yahoo Small Business Advisor content site and 24/7 free customer support.
“Having all this information in one dashboard, consolidated and presented in a clear way, makes it easier for the small business owner to see trends,” Parker said.
Users do not need to be customers of Yahoo Web Hosting or Yahoo Merchant Solutions, but those who are can view web traffic metrics for their stores, online orders, revenue and website traffic within the dashboard.
Customers can upgrade to Local Visibility Pro for automatic submission to search engines and directories, as well as Reputation Management Pro.
As of May 1, Microsoft’s small and medium business brand changed its name to Bing, bringing the name and design in line with the search engine’s homepage.
People who use Bing for search are in decision-making mode, Microsoft revealed in a statement about the rebranding. The ad buying experience through adCenter for SMBs is now more cohesive with the search user interface.
“By aligning with the Bing brand, SMBs will better understand that they are buying traffic on Bing and Yahoo search,” a Microsoft representative told Search Engine Watch. “Many advertisers find the program through the Bing homepage, where they click on ‘Advertise here.’ This shift helps those customers follow a more intuitive path to what they are looking for.”
The Marketers and Agencies brand remains unchanged, identified as Microsoft Advertising. Citing a recent comScore Core Search custom report, Microsoft revealed in their rebranding announcement that unique searchers on Bing and Yahoo Search are likely to spend 26 percent more than the average searcher and 9 percent more than those using Google Search in the U.S.
In a direct jab at their top competitor, Microsoft also announced that “Microsoft and Yahoo have searchers you can’t reach on Google: 49 million unique searchers using Bing and Yahoo search (including Microsoft and Yahoo core search sites) do not use Google in the U.S.”
GitHub: Software description: a software to manage books in the computer (C#). →