Natural Search Blog


Speaking at Dallas WordCamp 2009

Wordcamp Dallas 2009I’m speaking at this year’s WordCamp in Dallas again later this week.

WordCamp is a mini-convention for WordPress and blogging enthusiasts. Some of the content is WordPress-centric, but other content is applicable to bloggers in general, such as how to promote your blog and other stuff.

I’ll be speaking on how to use social image sharing services for promotion. Social media sites such as Flickr allow people to publish and share their photos with many other people, and the site is well-constructed in terms of search engine optimization, so posting images there helps get media distributed all over. Using Flickr can help one gain more attention, inbound links, and overall search rankings.

I’ve spoken on using Flickr for promotion and optimization before, and I’ve written on details of image optimization here a number of times.

I’d further recommend blogging to everyone – I first started blogging here on the Natural Search Blog as a guest, after Stephan Spencer invited me, and it eventually changed my overall career path. Be sure to check out Stephan’s articles on blog optimization, btw, since he’s pretty much the top authority out there on the subject.

There’s still a few seats left for Dallas WordCamp – sign up before they’re all gone!

Yellow Pages & Blog Payola

Ed Kohler, outspoken critic of YP industry, “outed” DexKnows.com for using Pay-Per-Post to increase links and associated PageRank for their site.

DexKnows.com logo

As you may know, Pay-Per-Post involves paying bloggers to write articles endorsing products, services or companies, and in this flavor it also involves using those posts to link back to the company’s site in order to help build PageRank.

The blog post is very thinly disguised payola – as Kohler points out, the blog is purportedly belonging to someone in Arkansas, while this post appears to be all oriented around providing keyworded links involving Pizza in Minneapolis through DexKnows. The blog has a large “payperpost” ad badge on it, too, and if you read through the articles, every single one seems to be engineered to sound like someone writing about random daily life incidents, but always with a couple of injected keyword links.

In context, it’s glaringly obvious that the blog is a paid posting. Kohler posts a comment below it, asking if it’s a paid post for Dex, and the author replies that she doesn’t “know who’s Dex”.

Kohler further pokes fun at Ken Clark, a yellow pages industry advocate, (more…)

Google Pushes Reading Lists of Politicians & Pundits

Google announced today that they’re introducing reading lists from major politicians like Barack Obama and John McClain along with reading lists from political commentators like Ariana Huffington and Mark Halperin. Google promoted the new service today on their homepage by touting the ability to read what Obama and McCain are reading, with a link line just below the search form:

Google provides Obama & McClain's reading lists
(click to enlarge)

The Google Reader blog states that you’ll now be able to “read what they read” and here their commentary as they share and discuss news. (more…)

Syndicate Your Articles and Blog Posts Without Getting Burned

Have you ever been really impressed with an article or a blog post you’ve read online? Did you link to the article? Or did you copy and paste the content into your own blog, blockquote it, then add your own commentary?

Syndicated content can be a nightmare for SEO, for several reasons. First, there are so many different ways to give author attribution. Some may pass link juice to the author, some may not. Many times, it’s the home page of the author’s blog or company site that receives the juice, rather than the source article. Secondly, multiple copies of the same article can result in duplicate content which, in turn, may confuse the spiders and disperse the ability for an author’s article to rank well. In my interview with Matt Cutts, I asked the famed Google engineer and head of the Webspam team at Google whether it is better to have the syndicated copies linked to the original article on the author’s site, or is it just as good if it links to the home page of the author? Matt answers…

I would recommend the linking to the original article on the author’s site. The reason is: imagine if you have written a good article and it is so nice that you have decided to syndicate it out. Well, there is a slight chance that the syndicated article could get a few links as well, and could get some PageRank. And so, whenever Google bot or Google’s crawl and indexing system see two copies of that article, a lot of the times it helps to know which one came first; which one has higher PageRank.

So if the syndicated article has a link to the original source of that article, then it is pretty much guaranteed the original home of that article will always have the higher PageRank, compared to all the syndicated copies. And that just makes it that much easier for us to do duplicate content detection and say: “You know what, this is the original article; this is the good one, so go with that.”

Sounds like common sense, doesn’t it? Well, in this case, it’s a little more than that. By intentionally linking to the author’s source article (rather than the generic home page), you are telling the bots that that is the “true” original author of the article. So, like Matt Cutts suggested, if other articles pop up elsewhere, the bots can easily determine what the “authoritative” source is, passing the authority on to the author and helping them get the credit they deserve.

For more great tips from my interview, you can listen to the audio podcast with Matt Cutts. The interview is a little over thirty minutes long.

Happy syndicating!

Dallas Wordcamp 2008 Followup

Wordcamp DallasI spoke at Wordcamp here in the Dallas area (in Frisco, actually) this past weekend, and had a great time meeting the participants. I spoke on SEO for Bloggers, and provided a number of tips on building a blog’s traffic and promotion of blogs. Many of the tips were material that I’ve learned from Netconcepts’ company president, Stephan Spencer, and others in our company.

WordPress is probably the best blogging platform around in terms of search engine optimization features, both built-in and available through plug-ins. Netconcepts sets up highly-optimized blogs for many of our clients and we even recommend setting up entire websites on WordPress due to the ability to easily delegate editing functions among many employees as well as for the SEO potential. Our Netconcepts and GravityStream websites are both set up on WordPress, for example.

One question someone asked during my session which I didn’t know the answer to was whether our SEO Title Tag Plug-in works on the new version of WordPress (with built in wp tags) and the answer is yes – it has been updated to work with wp built in tags and tested on 2.3- not tested on 2.5 yet. (Thanks to Kerry Mann for helping me answer this one.)

Finally, here is a copy of the presentation I gave that a number of attendees have requested.

Blog SEO Tip: Hop On A Media Feeding Frenzy

For bloggers wishing to improve their traffic, hopping onto a media feeding frenzy can give a nice burst in traffic which can translate into increases in longterm traffic.

Media Feeding Frenzy Traffic Graph

A media feeding frenzy is when a subject or thing that’s happened suddenly becomes a top headliner story for journalists. News organizations have a well-developed radar for which stories of the day are going to be the most interesting for their audience, and they avidly push to provide articles quickly to satisfy the public’s sudden thirst. As more journalists glom onto the subject, it suddenly seems that everyone is reporting on some variation of the same subject, and this is a media feeding frenzy.

Bloggers can hop onto these feeding frenzies, and ride the wave of traffic associated with them. (more…)

Biz Profile Article Awarded the SEMMY for Local Search

2008 SEMMY WinnerMy article, “Anatomy & Optimization of a Local Business Profile” was just awarded a SEMMY in the Local Search category for 2008.

Many thanks to all of you who voted for it! (more…)

Google Takes RSS & Atom Feeds out of Web Search Results

Google just announced this week that they have started reducing RSS & Atom feeds out of their search engine results pages (“SERPs”) – something that makes a lot of sense in terms of improving quality/usability in their results. (They also describe why they aren’t doing that for podcast feeds.)

This might confuse search marketers about the value of providing RSS feeds on one’s site for the purposes of natural search marketing. Here at Netconcepts, we’ve recommended using RSS for retail sites and blogs for quite some time, and we continue to do so. Webmasters often take syndicated feeds in order to provide helpful content and utilities on their sites, and so providing feeds can help you to gain external links pointing back to your site when webmasters display your feed content on their pages.

Google has removed RSS feed content from their regular SERPs, but they haven’t necessarily reduced any of the benefit of the links produced when those feeds are adopted and displayed on other sites. When RSS and Atom feeds are used by developers, they pull in the feed content and then typically redisplay it on their site pages in regular HTML formatting. When those pages link back to you as many feed-displayed pages do, the links transfer PageRank back to the site originating the feeds, and this results in building up ranking values.

So, don’t stop using RSS or Atom feeds!

Build Your Own Local Search Engine

Quite a few bloggers out there have clued-in to how using Eurekster’s Swickis on their blogs can be a cool feature enhancement, providing custom thematic search engines for their users. If you have a blog that focuses on particular subject matter, inclusion of useful links and other features like these custom search engines can help to build loyalty and return visits. But, for webmasters who build local guides for small communities, Swickis are also an ideal way to rapidly provide robust, location-specific search functionality.

Eurekster

Over time, I’ve looked at a lot of small community guides, and many of the people who create them are masters of finding free widgets to provide functionality for things like weather forecasts, news headlines, and local events. But, many of these sites are missing even simple search functionality to help users find the local info on their site as well as elsewhere on the internet. (more…)

Technorati Authority Number Now Decides Blog Rankings

On Friday, I noticed that Technorati instituted a new change in how they report info about blogs they track. Previously, they displayed the total number of inlinks from the total number of blogs linking to a blog. For example, they’d state “__ blogs link here” and “X links from Y blogs”. They now only state the total number of blogs that link to a blog, and they’re calling that measure the “Technorati Authority” number.

Technorati

Technorati only counts the total number of blogs which link to another blog for the Authority number, not the total number of links – which is good, since various blog features like categorization pages, preview snippets, and other pagination and navigation schemes common to blogs can cause a link from a single posting to reappear multiple times from a blog’s site.

(more…)

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