Monday, December 31, 2012

Points To Ponder On For SEO 2013

Happy New Year!
Happy New Year! (Photo credit: erjkprunczýk)

The 24x7x365 moments of 2012 have flown by leaving evolutionary and historical footprints on the web for the SEO world. Its that time of the year again when on a cold wintery day its time to sit and look back and reflect ahead with the light of good and bad experiences of the past year.

After the Panda and Penguin updates by Google for penalizing spammy links and thin content the optimization took an about turn for SEOs who focused their SEO efforts and strategies on links and low quality content as they got warnings from Google via friendly emails. In response to these emails they had to go on an undoing spree and remove and disown the links created just in the name of SEO. Google also created a Disvow tool to make them confess the unethical work done by them.

I know the above words allude to spirituality and ethics but are very much correlated to SEO as these black hat activities and misconceptions led the SEO industry to a juncture where the SEOs themselves wanted to call their services by some other name and give a fresh start and meaning to their work.

But, just by addressing it by any other term does not solve the problem. We as SEOs need to spread the true meaning and scope of SEO widely rather than campaign and write posts for its rechristening.

Its not only the search engines which have upgraded their algorithms and made them smarter but the searchers and website owners too are more aware of the search scenario and have become smarter. In early 2000 when a website owner wanted to optimize his site he just thought about rankings but today when people discuss SEO projects they focus on immediate goals to be achieved to have quality search presence and these goals vary from industry to industry.

Search is not only limited to the search engines it has got integrated to the various other inbound signals like social media, blogging, comments and discussions, videos, etc. hence an SEO has to integrate the overall web presence on all these platforms and shape up an online identity for the client’s business and this is possible only with due cooperation and help extended by the client. Today each and every aspect of the business is contributing to the search presence or cutting it down depending on what footprints they are leaving on the web for their business.

Overall Aspects to Focus On for SEO 2013

1. On Page optimization as per the W3C standards

2. Have a web presence on various platforms

3. Update blog regularly

4. Co relate web presence with fresh content by blogging, commenting, discussing, sharing links on social media from your own site and blog plus from other authority sites of your industry.

5. Have YouTube video channel and share videos and embed them on site or blog.

6. Google+ as of now may not be the most widely used social media platform but it as major Google products in some way or the other converge on Google+ your Google+ account has the potential of becoming your passport to your online identity hence ignoring this platform or not having a presence on Google+ is like applying for a VISA without a passport .

7. Submit XML sitemaps for site, blog and video XML sitemaps for videos embedded on site or blog.

8. Apply for Twitter Cards and integrate them with your blog once the application is approved by Twitter.

9. Integrate FB Open Graph on blogs.

10. Integrate Authorship Markup on the blog to co relate your content with your online persona which can lead you to be a thought leader of your industry which in the long run can add to the trust factor.

11. Focus on ‘Less Is More’ instead of having 5 posts a week publish 2 posts per week but of relevant in depth information in all forms i.e text, video, infographics, podcast,etc. It’s the quality that counts not the quantity.

12. If you cannot create content regularly then curate content.

13. Use Schemas for addresses, events, people, recipes, books, ebooks,video, etc.

14. Focus on building a community and retaining their trust as your community can play a major role in helping your content go viral.

15. As in real life you are known by the friends you keep , in the online world you are known by the people that follow you and the people that you follow.

16. In the real world you are what your thoughts are and in the online world you are what you publish and share.

17. The above points help you earn links. Let the inbound links get built as a result of quality web presence rather than running after them.

18. All the above points have a direct impact on the off page optimization giving a boost to the search presence .

19. Focus on the technical SEO by working on XML sitemaps, by monitoring Google WMT , canonicalization issues, HTTP headers, rich snippets in search results which are achieved by using schemas and microformats , customized error pages, robots.txt, improving the site speed, etc.

20. Local search is as important as global search hence cannot be ignored.

21. Follow the path of hard work to develop this overall presence gradually rather than following the short cut of buying fake likes , followers and +1s . The short cuts followed today will become a penalty in future once Google upgrades its algorithm for detecting it like the Penguin Update for spammy links which made all the link builders undertake the task of undoing those same links which they ran after once.

22. Go mobile and check the accessibility of your site on hand held devices else develop Mobile Apps. For widely used services of the site.

23. Help Google to give quality search results to the users and Google will help you in return by giving you the search presence you deserve.

24. Focus on the metrics that matter in Google Analytics according to what goals and priorities you have set for yourself to improve search presence.

25. Do not put all your eggs in one basket. Have a Bing WMT account too and monitor the search presence on Bing too.

The SEO industry is at that point of the graph where its going to scale new heights and emerge as more meaningful and essential for website owners and search engines as well. Content and quality have been king since the first web page was published but it in 2012 that Google has been successful in penalizing the low quality content and help clear the content and the linked clutter on the web with its algorithmic updates.

2012 has witnessed the most evolutionary phase of the SEO industry and I think this is the most positive phase too. As these quality algorithmic updates by Google are making the SEOs and website owners think and work on the quality aspects of the website.

Wishing Everyone a Great And A Successful 2013 ! 

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Thursday, December 13, 2012

Google Introduces Data Highlighter To Webmaster Tools For Event Data

Google has been lately giving a lot of importance to rich snippets in search results. Data Highlighter is a point-and-click tool that can be used by anyone authorized for your site in Google Webmaster Tools. No changes to HTML code are required.

 Instead, you just use your mouse to highlight and "tag" each key piece of data on a typical event page of your website.

To get started with Data Highlighter, visit Webmaster Tools, select your site, click the "Optimization" link in the left sidebar, and click "Data Highlighter".

As of now it's available in English only and for structured data about events, such as concerts, sporting events, exhibitions, shows, and festivals.

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Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Google+ VP Bradley Horowitz Says: “Google+ is not like the social networks of the past”

Image representing Bradley Horowitz as depicte...

In one of his recent interviews, the Google+ VP Bradley Horowitz mentioned that if FaceBook had 1 billion users then Google+ too had 1 billion users or more if the users of all Google products were put together. According to him unlike FaceBook, Google Plus is not only a social media platform but an attempt by Google to weave all the Google products together to offer more value to users and brands.

Google plus is the foundation layer and not a parallel product which exists individually. It is the identity and relationships system for Google which is woven in all the Google products. As per their statistics 400 million users have signed up for Google Plus but 100 million of them are active as per their strictest definition of an “ Active Google+ User” and the numbers are growing on a regular basis.

The Google+ VP Bradley Horowitz also mentioned that Google+ is not like the social networks of the past. It had a completely different edge and was following a different path. It was clearly indicated by him that they considered FaceBook was a social network of the past. He further added that they want Google+ to work the way the real world works and the advertisements and Sponsored links on social networks is annoying the users and they want to add the commercial aspect to Google+ but in a very holistic way. All the examples given by him clearly indicated that Google+ signals enhanced and added value to search Ads. by offering recommendations from users in your circle.

Hence, the search and social are supplementing each other rather than having independent individual existence for Google. He also added that in 5 – 10 years from now Google is aiming Google+ to be a platform for uncluttered meaningful communication where context is also in the picture along with the connections.

As a SEO I get the message clear and loud that Google+ signals will get more and more integrated in search results and if brands adopt and adapt to Google+ as soon as possible then they are going to grow alongside with the growth of Google+ as they have an opportunity to create footprints on social and get topically correlated ASAP. As mentioned above all the Google products are being woven into Google+ and Google+ as a social media platform converges to diverge and diverges to converge.

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