Monday, June 24, 2013

Advanced SEO Means Adapting To WWW Standards Before Google Integrates Them In Search Algorithms

We all in 2013 are convinced that a good online presence is as needed for a businesses to exist and grow as sunlight is needed on Earth for the flora and fauna for the same reason. Every business big or small is struggling to achieve a good online presence and trying out various online platforms to put their best foot forward.

The integrated use of the paid media, earned media and owned media are the 3 main routes to overall web presence.

Earned Media:

  • Organic Visits
  • User Generated Content
  • Reviews
  • WOM on Social Media Via Likes, Mentions and ripples

Owned Media:

  • Branded Website
  • Company Blog
  • Branded Social Media Accounts
  • Branded Content Published on various platforms

Paid Media

  • PPC
  • Display Banners
  • Sponsorships
  • Video Ads.
  • Paid Video Content

Earned ,  Owned and Paid Media Investment in 2012

The customer’s online journey is getting increasingly complex with the emergence of new devices, media and new technologies. The intersection set of earned , owned and paid media is what gets the business owner the maximum benefit.

Valuable informative content is at the crux for establishing an online thought leadership and creating the trust for any brand. Content Marketing is an online strategy which helps the brand to harness the benefits of all the earned, owned and paid media and dive into the sea of online opportunities.

The SEOs today are leaving no chance to call Content Marketing as the New SEO but, this statement is as misleading like the statement “Link Building Is SEO” was when black hatters resorted only to link building as SEO when PageRank Technology was implemented by Google.

In 2013 SEOs have to think from a wider perspective because, when we speak about the convergence of the earned, owned and the paid media we are referring to the web as a whole and not only to the search engines.

Content marketing is a good SEO strategy but it is not the new SEO. Today a true SEO does not limit herself only to Google Algorithms but looks beyond and thinks about how a website can adapt to the web standards which are applicable and integrated by search engine algorithms as of now and also works on the standards which have a potential of being integrated by search algorithms in future . This does not only ensures a long term good health of the website but also makes it prepared to face any algo updates without getting adversely affected.

Search engines are not the WWW. They are a subset of the WWW superset. Search engine algorithms try to get quality signals from the web and constantly endeavour to improve the search results so that they can cater quality search results to the user. Instead of running after the algorithmic updates and changes if we as SEOs focus on what makes the web a better place and implement the quality factors on the websites as per web standards then we can be prepared before the search engines use them in their algorithms.

For example Microformats is not a new concept domain was registered on 26th January 2005 and since then the site is adding content on how microdata can be added to the websites.

 But, it is in 2012 when Google launched the Knowledge Graph that the SEOs started focusing their attention on microdata.


Why did SEOs wait for Google to add structured data to WMT and in their algorithms for it to be called it a standard? Microfromats was already a standard in early 2000 but Google was able to integrate it to its algorithms partially only in 2011. Whether it is your website or the social media presence all the platforms have a web standard to adhere to, I think we should not wait for the search engines to integrate those standards to start using them but logically implement them as we make our online presence felt on that platform. is online since 1998 and since then has been sharing knowledge regarding web standards. Currently has content on :

Web Design and Applications

Web Architecture

Semantic Web

XML Technology

Web of Services

Web of Devices

Browsers and Authoring Tools

W3C laid the foundations of today's Web with standards such as HTML (in 1997) and XML (in 1998). The figure below shows the large number of forward-looking W3C recommendations that emerged from these earlier technologies, and shows the organization's current focus on device-independent data and the promise of a "Semantic Web". 

Efforts to achieve the "long-term growth for the Web" that is enshrined in W3C's mission statement, are today guided by the principles of "accessibility, internationalization, device independence, mobile access and quality assurance". In the orange bar of the figure below, these priorities underpin W3C technology recommendations that include standards such as Extensible HyperText Markup Language (XHTML) and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), listed under "Web Applications".

By giving importance only to the Google algorithms we are paving the way for Google algorithms to become the standard and helping it to monopolize the web.

Google in order to get complete social signals data introduced the Google+ social media platform and has integrated authorship markup and local search such a way that everyone is compelled to have a Google+ account if they want to keep their search presence alive.

From the time the term SEO has been coined, SEOs have been executing repair functions on the websites to make them search engine friendly but its high time we move on from thinking about search engines and start thinking about the quality standards which are friendly to the web eco system and build and structure our online presence (earned and owned) as per the web standards before they get accepted by the search engines.

For this change of approach the SEOs also need the support of the website owners who need to accept that SEO cannot be considered purely as advertising but need to accept that SEO means making your site so robust technically that when the search engines trying to crawl and index the site it is able to do so and extract the relevant data despite the frequent algo quakes by the search engines.

Just like a good engineer applies scientific, economic, social, and practical knowledge in order to design, build, and maintain structures, machines, devices, systems, materials and processes. A good SEO needs to apply technical specifications that define and describe aspects of the World Wide Web which directly or indirectly affect the development and administration of web sites and consider include the interoperability, accessibility and usability of web pages and web sites from the WWW perspective. Instead of dissecting the algorithms we need to understand the standard norms of web design and development which will make the web a better place and websites robust technically.

Only when the website, the social media accounts and the paid media are following the ethics and the science of the WWW the web presence will get the needed visits, mentions, shares and the WOM which is expected as the ROI for the whole integrated effort put in. If your SEO focuses only on the search engine aspects like some SEOs did in mid 2000 by focusing on link building only to be attacked by the Penguin update later and you have to restart backwards by putting effort to remove all the links that you built. This reminds me of the snakes and ladders game that we played in childhood where the player reaches almost the finish of the game but has to go back all the way because he comes across a snake just one square before the finish box.

Today it is not only about search engines but also about users who have become more tech savvy and the consumer attention which is getting fragmented with digital channels proliferating, with people having access to devices and the internet on the go 24x7x365. The ability of being constantly connected has made the decision making process directly dependant on the UGC and WOM generated on networking sites by.

A user relies more on what his fan, follower, friend or a person in his circle has to say rather than what the website owner has claimed on his website. Hence the content on your website and the content generated on the various social media platforms by your customers, employees, etc. has to be in sync. for the company credibility to be established which in the long run adds to the trust factor.

SEO ensures the ability of the web presence to get indexed and crawled and get correlated to the targeted search queries. The quality of the content defines the ability of the content being shared further on social media which in the long run establishes the thought leadership and the trust factor. Good quality SEO may get the site page 1 rankings for the targeted keywords but conversions may be a challenge without gaining the trust factor which is an offshoot of the semantic web.

Search engines either integrate web standards like XML sitemaps, Schemas, Meta tags,etc. or they create their own standards like the Google created the Authorship Markup. As an SEO we have to tune and tweak the websites as per the search engine preferences but also focus on the standard procedures specified by the WWW and as an SEO process make the site immune to all the algo changes by focusing on the user and the WWW as a whole.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Labels: ,

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Matt Cutts Answer To : Does using stock photos on your pages have a negative effect on rankings?

Images are a very important aspect of any website. Images speak louder than words but to select the right images for a website is always a time consuming task. Many opt for the stock photos available on the web. But, does the use of stock photos have a negative impact on search engine rankings.

This is what Matt Cutts – the head of the spam team at Google has to say.

In August 2010 we wrote a blog Post which shared the following thought regarding this question.

A picture speaks louder than words. Images on a website have got their own importance from the search engine’s bot perspective as well as from a visitor’s perspective. Hence the images that we add on each every page should be well thought of and of related to the content.

The images add the color coefficient to the web page and also offer text content to the search engine robots in the form of ALT TEXT which is one of the on-page optimization factors for SEO.

Stock Images And Search Rankings
handshake isolated on business background (Photo credit: SalFalko)
Usually, we see most of the sites buy ready images from the numerous websites available for the same. We see board room images, people shaking hands denoting partnerships and finalizing deals. These images have perfect models modeling for the pictures and having perfect smiles which may be a dentist’s delight.

But, the questions asked in this context are:

• Do these images project the right impression of your company?

• Is your team so well-groomed (look-wise) as depicted in the website images?

• Don’t you think that such images are an insult to the hard working team that you have?

I am sure you have the answer for the above questions.

No company has a perfect looking team and the atmosphere at work is constantly not all grins and smiles and achievements. To reflect the true image of your company the images put for the product page,’ the team ‘or ‘about us’ page should be the actual pictures of your team members and the actual shop floor pictures of the product being manufactured or the of the office in which your staff is working to make the targets set by you a reality.

Having no images on the site is better than having the artificial smiling images. If you just adopt this change I am sure it will add to the credibility of your online business.

Focus on the content and value your product and people by putting them forward on the real estate of your web page.

Putting the right content and reflecting the true image of your company is like adding the soul to your website.

Matt Cutts in the video mentions that maybe in future Google might think about this. Hence according to me letting the website be an actual reflection of the business image you have real time and the website reflecting the actual infra structure and team is always a better option than having stock photos reflecting people and the office place as something totally opposite of what your actual business is or you and your team are.

As Matt Cutts mentions in the video original photos may be considered as a quality factor but though they are not a ranking factor now but it is pure logic that having a true identity will surely add to the trust factor in the minds of the visitors and gradually when Google incorporates this in the algorithms then it surely will add on to the online trust factor too.

As Google says cater to the user qualitatively and the search engines too are taken care off eventually, when they are ready and have updated their algorithms to add those signals.
Enhanced by Zemanta


Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Digital World Challenge Faced By The Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) In 2013

My first guest post for SEJ in September 2010 was about the shift from the traditional media of marketing to the internet media of marketing at that time this question of who should manage the digital media which demands a multiple partner proliferation had just started brewing . In 2013 it has reached a turbulent stage as is described by the 2012 CMO Insights survey by Accenture.

The 2012 CMO Insights survey is the third in a series of studies sponsored by Accenture and aimed at understanding the opinions, challenges and points of view of senior marketing executives from around the world.

Results are based on online surveys across 10 countries with 405 senior executives who are key marketing decision makers in their companies.

According to this survey,

Turbulence is the new normal for chief marketing officers (CMOs). The main reason being competing business demands, proliferating channels and partners, and a disconnect between the talent they have and the capabilities they need.

Every digital marketing company I am sure will be able to relate directly to this as we face a real challenge when an overall ROI has to be calculated. It becomes more challenging when there are multiple marketing services providers but the tasks of each of these service providers are mutually inter-dependant for overall success.

For example if SEO , Social Media , Content Creation are handled by different agencies with no clear strategic leader coordinating all these activities then a lot of confusion, chaos and the blame game begins which is not less than a catch22 situation.

According to the survey for business survival CMOs need to:

• Fundamentally change the marketing operating model.

• Build new skills internally.

• Get the right set of partners.

• Drive digital orientation throughout the enterprise.

The Partner Proliferation list according to the survey is as follows:

When all these activities are to be managed in-house it requires a very big budget and specialized skill sets or if outsourced it needs precise coordination. The challenge that the online business owners small or big brands face today is how to the get the maximum ROI from the selected set of the above activities they decide to focus on for a wider and a qualitative digital presence.

From the list above it is very clear that the digital orientation is the most important demand of the day but 19% of the CMOs say that digital orientation suffers from the lack of integration across the business and when it comes to other partners they are weak at execution and delivery.

Hence the need of the hour is to:

· Fundamentally change the marketing operating model

· Build new skills internally

· Get aligned with the right set of partners

· Drive digital orientation throughout the enterprise

The main focus being the digital orientation which is needed throughout the organization. The shift is not only on the media used for marketing but a shift is needed towards a whole new process of thinking from the digital perspective in order to gain a profitable overall ROI .

The whole survey is summarised as below and the full report can be downloaded on

Enhanced by Zemanta

Labels: , , , , ,

Saturday, June 8, 2013

The Concentric Circles Of Quality Web Presence

Today a quality web presence is the lifeline of every organization. In early 2000 anyone who had a website and had submitted them to search engines took pride on being visible in the search results and proudly printed the website URLs on the business cards and letter heads .

A decade down the line the world wide web is a more sophisticated place with the search engines and the search behaviour both having evolved qualitatively.

Today having a web presence does not mean only having a website. One needs to have a correlated quality web presence across the web. In order to achieve that objective a planned approach and a dedicated team is needed. SEOs and digital marketers have been filling the blogosphere with this message but yet when it comes to the website owners there is an aura of confusion and there is a need to understand the connectivity and correlation among all the online platforms – SEO, Social Media, and Regular Content Creation.

All these activities supplement each other and boost the quality search presence in the long run. One cannot focus only on one activity and then immediately jump to another just because it is being declared as the latest trend by some. This is very misleading for website owners.

Blog posts like SEO Is Dead, Content Marketing is the new SEO, Email is Dead, Social Media marketing is the latest online trend, etc. make the website owners especially the SMBs who have limited budgets skip from investing in one activity to another without actually benefitting from any.

Just the other day an SEO client wrote to us an email strictly mentioning that the coming months were the peak season for their business and we should have an aggressive SEO strategy to increase the traffic to the site.

We started working on their site in Dec. 2012 and till date the increase in organic and overall traffic is as follows . As the site deals in seasonal products the period of comparison is very important.

Hence we took to compare the period of Dec. 2012 to April 2013 (After Our SEO Efforts) v/s Dec. 2011 to April 2012 (When the Site was Optimized by some other company)

As you can see that the SEO efforts have succeeded and the traffic has improved and yes the traffic is targeted and also the site is having a good search presence for most of the keywords. The SEO has done his bit. Now the client has to understand to enhance the quality of this search presence there needs to be an additional focus on content marketing, social media presence, take necessary steps as per the analytics reports, work on call to action, try out A/B testing to improve conversions, etc.

But just because you branch out to an additional activity you stop focusing on the previous one is not a viable solution. The saying, “The rolling stone gathers no moss “, proves to be very true here. Hence a coordinated effort to supplement the benefit from each activity is needed.

All these activities are like the concentric circles drawn around the same centre but with different radii.

Usually people start with developing a website and at the most sign up for an SEO contract and then expect for the overall results to accrue but that is like drawing a small circle or drawing just a part of the circle. The search presence or the SEO circle is one of the concentric circles.

The Concentric Circles Of Long Term Quality Web Presence:

  1.  The website is at the centre hence each circle originates from there.
  2.  SEO via the on-page, off-page and technical factors increases the probability of the website and content to be found by users who are searching for the relevant information. It takes necessary steps to see that the site is being regularly crawled and indexed by the search engines. SEO also keeps track of the algorithmic updates and helps the site to be as per the norms of the search engines.
  3.  Regular quality content creation backed by authorship extends the quality aspect of the search presence and makes the SEO of the site worthwhile and helps develop your online brand and helps to build trust and relationships. Quality content further has the potential to generate valuable user generated content which has a multiplier effect on the quality factor.
  4. Social Media gives the necessary leverage to the content strategies and helps you to listen to the voice of your potential and existing customers and also helps you to understand your competition better. It helps you to establish the online reputation and gives you an online persona.
  5. Google Analytics & Webmaster Tools monitoring gives you the data to measure the ROI. This data helps you to track and monitor the SEO efforts, the social media efforts and also gives you an insight about your website and other crucial metrics to gear the efforts in the right direction.

A website owner can outsource each activity to different service providers or all these can be managed by one company but the correlation between all these activities will determine the actual success. As all these circles have the website as the centre as you draw each circle you go on increasing the circumference of the outreach.

This can be also co related to the structure of an atom where the website is the nucleus and each circle is an orbit which possesses the electrons of influence and outreach.

SEO is a necessity, content marketing is a strategy and social media is the channel.

If just one of the steps mentioned above are executed even with full sincerity, precision and dedication it will yield limited results only. In order to measure the overall ROI first one needs to measure the ROO (Return On Objective) of each outer circle . The objectives achieved with the activities of each circle will determine the total ROI (Return On Investment).

Today the challenge for the website owner is how to keep these activities coordinated and connected and make each task benefit from the other and get an overall boost to the online presence by capitalizing on the digital assets created thereby. It becomes more challenging if these tasks are performed by different services providers.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Labels: ,