How to Optimize Your Page Relevant to Search Engines and Users

Search engines have a goal, to find the most relevant content for a person’s search term. On the other hand, the mission of a user is to find exactly what he or she is searching on the Web. There is a one way to satisfy both and to make sure your page is properly indexed, by improving on-page optimization (On-page SEO), an important part of an effective SEO strategy.

Optimizing your page is rather important for search engines. In order to accept and show your page in SERPs (with information requested by users), search engines need to receive information first about a piece of content gathered by bots.

(Bots are programs which collect information about a page on the Web.)

More targeted information you provide, more chances for your page to be found / indexed. Users also need to have exact and relevant information they are searching for. Based on the information found on the page and its relevance, users will either engage, share the content and come back, or simply bounce. On-page optimization includes elements like content, HTML tags and keywords.

Search Engine Optimized Page

  • Keywords & Content – This is one of the most important elements of the website, particularly keywords. Keywords are useful for both, robots and users. Within the text on a page you should have specific keywords around which you form the content (keywords will also get attention of the crawlers). Spend some time learning which keywords work best for the particular page. Remember to bold and underline some of the keywords, one time each. As a rule of thumb avoid keyword stuffing. Make it look natural.
  • Title tag (at the top of the page) Include ONLY main keyword in your title tag and as close as possible to the beginning of the title. The length of your title should not exceed 70 characters.
  • Page headers or H1 Tags – Make clear headings to help users get an idea of what is the page about. Add header H1 tag. Remember, it should have the most important keyword.
  • Sub heading – Add H2 header tags. Here you can place your second most important keyword.
  • Meta description – This is a short description of your page which if done properly may induce clicks. Include keywords in your description. If possible add your keywords at the beginning of your text.
  • Image with Alt attribute – Properly including an alt tag to your images, it can improve your rankings.
  • URL – Make sure that each page on a website has a unique URL. If this part is not in order, your URL might look messy, needed to be fixed by redirects. Have the targeted keyword once in the given URL to boost your relevancy metrics.
  • Internal linking – A well structured, organized and meaningful internal linking will give positive signals to search engines and give truthful direction to users.
  • Site maps – Include sitemap.xml one for users and one for robots, they are like table of contents. Every page you consider, it will be indexed by Google.
  • Robots.txt Having robots.txt files you give instructions to robots about your site, such as which web folders to exclude from indexing.

Optimizing your pages is useful for both people and search engines. It will attract more targeted traffic, it will increase your online visibility, it will be more easy for search engines to index your pages, and it will become more accessible to your users.

Make sure your on-page (SEO) optimization is not overly optimized, but also it isn’t forgotten. Include keywords in your page title, header, have Meta description and have descriptive link text. This will not only help users find you easier online but it will also help major search engines show your article in SERPs for a specific keyword.

Article by Daliborka Krstic

The Death of Link Building?

Unnatural links is the next fight for Google as many people noticed with Penguin update in April.

Notifications about unnatural links pointing to your website were first sent out in July 2011 and this was further ramped up in March this year with a peak in the last weeks, causing both panic and relief for webmasters around the world.

This is not something you want to receive:

“We’ve detected that some of your site’s pages may be using techniques that are outside Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.

Specifically, look for possibly artificial or unnatural links pointing to your site that could be intended to manipulate PageRank. Examples of unnatural linking could include buying links to pass PageRank or participating in link schemes.

We encourage you to make changes to your site so that it meets our quality guidelines.

Once you’ve made these changes, please submit your site for reconsideration in Google’s search results.

If you find unnatural links to your site that you are unable to control or remove, please provide the details in your reconsideration request.

If you have any questions about how to resolve this issue, please see our Webmaster Help Forum for support.

Sincerely,
Google Search Quality Team”

The reason that you receive this message is most likely that you have bought links in an unnatural way and that you have been doing it in too much volume.

Consequence of this message has usually been a hit on your rankings within 1-4 weeks, most commonly after about 10 days. The penalization is likely to lasts 6+ months and to get back in rankings you would need to send a reconsideration request to Google.

There is however no reason to panic completely, Google has recently sent out many messages with “false alarm” and you may not be in danger as Matt Cutts is stating here. Going forward it will be more clear what kind of danger you are facing in regards to this.

What should I do now?

You still need to get your links to rank but more attention needs to be put in the direction of creating content that people naturally really want to link to.

If you find this too expensive and hard you need to consult a link building expert, such as Nordic Search, to ensure that you are keeping the risk level you want and that your money is put in a direction where it matters, within Google’s guidelines.

Relevance and quality needs to improve, at the same time you can’t be too aggressive with anchor texts and definitely avoid link networks to boost your rankings. Short term, go through your link profile and make sure that obviously bad links are removed.

This is time consuming and many people are expecting the launch of a “link disavow tool” (enabling you to select what links that you don’t want to count) also for Google (not only Bing) to make this process easier.

Stay tuned for further updates about Google’s war against bad links!!

How to Use Pinterest

Pinterest has one major power, it drives traffic to your website.

If your business relies on driving high volume traffic, then you should consider joining Pinterest. Actually, anyone who wants to promote a product, service, or a business can benefit from Pinterest.

For all those who are not familiar, Pinterest is a highly visual social network. It is used for “pinning” or sharing visually interesting images. This is how it works:

  1. Users find on the web an image they like. For example, they could like an image you just uploaded to your site.
  2. With the bookmarklet, pinners (users) pin your image. The image is now visible on their Pinterest board.
  3. When others on their pinboard like the image, they have an option to like it or repin it. If they repin the image, it will appear on their own boards.
  4. Once they click on the image, it will take them back to your website.

As you have noticed the process of pinning is rather simple and there are only few new terms for you to get familiar with: pinboards, pins, pin it, pinning, bookmarklet, repining and pinners.

  • A pinboard is is a board to which you give a name. You can have as many boards as you want. For example, if you are in a cake business, you can create boards such as: wedding cakes board, birthday cakes boards, bachelorette cakes and so on.
  • A pin is an image or any other visual content added to Pinterest pinboard.
  • Repin means to re-post a pin.
  • Pinning is a process of sharing images.
  • Pin it button is placed on a website to encourage sharing on Pinterest.
  • Pinner is a person who shares visual content.
  • Bookmarklet is added to your tool bar so you can easily pin others people creative stuff.

Next are four easy steps you can apply already now to improve your presence on Pinterest.

1. Planning

Instead of posting only good articles to your website, plan how you could improve your posts by adding images, infographics, videos, presentations or a cover from your new brochures. Plan in advance what kind of high quality visually impressive content you can upload to your site. Just make sure that the image you upload is relevant to your niche and it accompanies your post. Once ready with your planning, remember to add Pin it button visible to your site for others to share your content.

2. Pinterest Profile

For start you could create a profile that clearly defines who you are. Use keywords in the profile so others can easily find you. Make sure you follow Pinterest terms of service, it is always good to play by the rules.

You can log in to Pinterest with your email address or by using Facebook and or Twitter profiles. This is great feature because users pinning your stuff can also share it on Facebook and or Twitter. Here is what you could have in your description:

  • Upload an image / logo
  • Write who you are and what your company does (an elevator speech could work here)
  • Add a description of your boards
  • Have a call to action, such as: Follow me!
  • Add your website address

3. Pinboards

Create pinboards that compliment your business and are closely related to your topic. You can have as many boards as you want, but start with five. Also you can create few boards which do not need to be industry or business related. Rather, they will tell a bit more about your company personality, values, what your company stands for and so on. These kinds of boards are also very engaging on an emotional level which means you can attract more pinners and promote your business even more. Check the most popular and most shared images on Pinterest and monitor your competitors. Find out how you can use this information to improve your boards and or pinning.

4. How to drive engagement

Observe what is popular in your niche and how other companies are engaging their Pinterest followers. That will give you an idea what kind of next step to make. You can also:

  • Ask people to like your pin in your post
  • Ask people to comment on your pin
  • Ask questions and let people answer to your board
  • Make an interesting contest
  • Run offers
  • Follow others on Pinterest and like, pin, repin or comment on their content

Have in mind that Pinterest is not about self promotion only. Actually that is the list what Pinterest is all about. To see positive results on Pinterest, pin other peoples stuff, upload shareable images on your website and let others pin your content on their boards.

After a while you would want to follow your traffic. Google Analytics is a free tool which can help you follow how much traffic you receive from Pinterest and what type of images are of most interest to your pinners. Another handy tool is Curalate which can provide you with a lot of info: who is pinning, liking or commenting your image.

PS: Do not forget to add pin it button to every page. Upload eye-catching images and remember: if you are using pin it button from your pages, every pin will include a link back to the source. Happy pinning and follow Nordic Search on Pinterest.

Article by: Daliborka Krstic

4 Ways to Spy Your Competitors via Social Sites

Social media is a valuable resource for a business not only to connect with fans but also to keep track of competitors.

Your competitors might be using new tactics to promote a new product, service or they might be trying to enter a new market. By knowing what they are up to and why others refer back to them when talking about your industry, you will have a great competitive edge.

However, if you have not yet figure out who are your at least top ten competitors, it will be difficult to spy on them. First, pull out some of your keywords you are saving for link building purposes or select top keyword phrases from your SEO folder and write them down in Google search, one-by-one. Then, ten URLs that shows up in SERP with your keyword are you potential competitors. To narrow down your competition geographically, repeat the step except this time add in search a name of a country or a city of your interest. Copy the top ten URLs in excel. You want to write down your competitors URLs / keywords and make few notes for future references. Now you are good to go and spy on your competitors.

There are more than hundred different kind of tools and ways which you can effectively apply for spying on your competitors. Here are four simple yet effective tools to help you extract already today some important information about your competitors.

  1. Website

Look around the website. What social media sites the website is using? How many shares there are? Based on the number of shares you can easily find out if the company is of interest to visitors, what kind of content is popular. Also you can identify what social sites visitors prefer to use for spreading the news.

Observe how often your competitor is posting articles, check if they offer some incentives, promotions and where are they sending visitors to engage with: Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin or Pinterest.

If you notice that they have an email sign-up form, join the list and receive their newsletter. Find out in what way they are using email to attract the target audience.

  1. Facebook

Most if not all of the competition is already on Facebook. Select your competitor and open up their Facebook fan page. Observe not only the numbers, but also what kind of value they continuously offer to their fans and why their fans come back over and over again to their page. Quantity is good as long as the quality follows up. You are looking for the following information:

  • What kind of updates they are posting: questions, funny images, or how-to tips?
  • How often they update their posts / day/time?
  • How many likes/shares/comments/post?

Another way to learn more what others are saying about your competitor is Facebook highlights. Right below custom tabs, you will notice a word highlights button. Click the button and select post by others. Now you can view what others are posting about company, what are their concerns, what are they commenting on, asking or complaining.

Similarly, you can observe other social networks such as Twitter, Pinterest or Linkedin.

  1. Google Alerts

Google Alerts is a simple yet nifty and easy to use tool, great for spying on your competitors. All you need to do is set up keyword searches or phrases for your competitors and choose the way you would like to receive updates, by email or RSS feed. Based on your main keyword selection in your niche or a keyword phrase you can receive alerts as often as you choose to receive and as many as many as you prefer. Every time when your competitor post a new article you will receive alert.

  1. Social Mention

Social mention is a social media search tool that allows you to easily track what people are saying about you or anyone else online, including your competitors. By writing a keyword which can be just anything from a company name to a new product name, social mention pulls out the information from across the web. In few seconds it will present you how is your keyword used in numerous places online especially social media. With social mention you can receive free daily email alerts.

All the information you gather can help you improve your social media strategy, give you a glimpse of what is coming next in terms of trends, it can help you decide what not to do and it can also give you a small edge over your competition.

Article by Daliborka Krstic

Link building facing huge challenges nowadays

After the famous Google Penguin Update, the importance of hard-to-get quality links has become clear to all. What you should aim today is to get links meant for humans, not for Google.

So what does this all mean?

Linking from relevant places

Don’t just submit links to different directories just because they are directories. Choose the best and biggest ones, where people actually go to look for websites. Examples could be Dmoz.org, Yahoo! Directory, etc.

If you want to make blog commenting, do it only if you really have something smart to say and you believe that the link you are posting in a comment provides some value to the blogger, or other readers. Otherwise, just skip it.

I could go on and on about this, but what I really want to say is that you should avoid all kinds of link building activity where the main purpose is just to get SEO optimized links and affect to your search engine rankings.

You want to be linked from places where you are having actual audience that might see your link and click on it directly to visit. You want the links from these kind of places that believe the link will benefit some human beings by providing them more information beyond what’s on the page itself, not because they are thinking the link will benefit someone to rank better.

Yes I know, earned links are not easy links. But they are worth it, or at least they won’t lead you to get penalized by Google.

Unnatural looking links

So what are then unnatural looking links? The examples I am going to give you are based on the examples I found from Search Engine Land’s article Can There Really Be 85 Types of Unnatural Links. (Don’t worry, not going to list all 85 types.)

1. You have a link from a sports bar based in Paris to your boxing club in Birmingham. This is a classical unnatural link that has no natural connection in subject matter or location between these two websites.

2. The title tag and the heading tag of some of your internal pages are the exact keyword match for several anchor text links from other websites pointing at your site. This is clearly unnatural.

3. Your less-good-blog or site has ten times more blogroll links than your nearest competitor. The amount of links should go hand in hand with the quality of your website. If your bad quality SMS loan site has 100 blogroll links, it will be seen as unnatural.

4. If your website has 1000 unique domains linking to it and 400 of them are coming from some directory, or file named /resources-links.html, links.asp, or /exchange-links.html, it is definitely unnatural. When half of your inbounds originate from links pages, that is unnatural.

5. Your site has a high amount of incoming links, but all these links are coming just from few resources.

6. Sitewide-links

7. Blog networks and article networks.

8. Mass directory submissions outside of your vertical.

9. Link(s) from (a) site(s) that offers no contact information, author name, etc.

10. Blogs with 3 external links from each blog post: one link to Wikipedia, one to .gov or .edu site, and one to a client site.

There are surely more different types of unnatural looking links, here was listed only 10 of them. Please go and read the article published in Search Engine Land (natural link above) if you are interested in reading further about unnatural looking links.

What is a good link profile then?

Good link profile is diverse. There are links from blogs, static pages, news websites, directories (good ones), social media bookmarks, etc.

Some of the links can be SEO optimized links, but majority should be just natural links, placed by webmaster. These include URL-links, brand links, long-tail keywords, just some word like “read more here“, etc.

It is very important to vary the anchor text, also the top level domain (.net, .com, .org, etc.) and geo location of the site linking to your site.

The link types should also vary: some links should be permanent, some footer links, some links from sidebar, some links should point to your subpages, some links should come from other website’s subpages, some from the homepage.

Important is just to try to have the link profile as diverse as possible, and of course, natural.

Remember Google Hangouts?

Consumers love to watch videos. If done right, with a very little investment video marketing can provide a huge marketing bang for a company.

To be effective, video making does not have to be too costly, long, or time consuming, not even too complex to make it. A company can choose to promote a product or a brand by making short entertaining videos or how-to educative set of videos.

There are a handful of online tools available to help companies creatively and effectively promote the business, such as Google + Hangouts.

social-media-streaming

Image: Google.com

Google Hangouts is a clever streaming tool for all those who are looking to create a video simply, easily and without much to-do.

Brands and individuals have been using Hangouts to promote a new product, to connect with tech people within the company, to get in touch with associates or to quickly review a new product with a selected group of people. With Hangouts, it is possible to connect up to ten users and simultaneously chat with each other. Video editing is also possible, once uploaded on YouTube. This is how to start “hangouts” in three easy steps:

  1. As soon as you log in to your Google + account, click the Start a Hangout button on the top of your screen (up-right). Once you hit the Hangout button, you will be reminded to install video PLUGIN (if you have not done it yet). When PLUGIN is installed, click again the Start a Hangout button on the top of your screen.
  2. Select and invite people by either entering their name or by clicking on their picture. If you want you can also invite groups, just select Google + circles from drop-down menu.
  3. Click Start a hangout.

Even though Google + might not be a first marketing choice to drive sales and brand awareness as Facebook for example, easy to use Google Hangouts is one feature which might spike up the interest.

Article by Daliborka Krstic

Track And Measure Social Success With Google Social Analytics

There are over 300 social tools. Socdir have listed about, well almost all of them. Which tool to use will mainly depend on your well defined social goals, and what are you trying to measure. Reporting, tracking and measuring social media outcomes can lead to extremely powerful results. With well selected social tools a company is able to:

  • Measure campaign effectiveness and its progress
  • Gather real-time data
  • Track results of every dollar spent
  • Determine what social media efforts work best
  • Help social media strategists adjust efforts to generate substantial revenue

There are payed and free-based social tools that offer a clear view of customer reach, volume and impressions, specific to business particular needs. If you or your company is confused which tools to use to track and measure social success, have a look at free Google Social Analytics tools.

Track & Measure With Google Social Analytics

Google Social Analytics introduces a new feature for tracking, analyzing and measuring basic, yet very essential social behavior online. The parameters are based around four main elements, which according to Google Analytics define your social impact. This includes:

Sources & Pages: Identify networks & communities where people engage with your content.
Conversions: Measure the value of social by tracking your goals, conversions and e-commerce transactions.
Social Plugins: Measure your on-site user engagement.
Social Visitors Flow: Compare traffic volumes and visitor traffic patterns through your site.

With the new social reports you can analyze how social media impacts your business. Its overview helps you follow on-site and off-site user interaction, you can see how much conversion value is generated from social media channels and it helps you follow social visitors behavior and flow. For example, you can track the social behavior from the moment you start running a campaign.

To set up Social Analytics reporting you should first have Google Analytics account. Then, before you start tracking and measuring you need to have a clear statement of social goals and determine key metrics. This will help you easier set up social analytics report, measure and track the most important social efforts, and it will help you better justify spent money on a campaign, or time spent with social media marketing efforts.

Article by: Daliborka Krstic

Facebook Newest Launch for Businesses – ‘Deals’ down & ‘Offers’ up!

Facebook is launching a new service: ‘Facebook Offers’ for Businesses.

Facebook ‘Offers’ is a way for businesses to share special coupons directly from a Facebook Page. It is free, easy to use and everyone who “likes” the brand can receive their special Offer. Directly from a Facebook page, a business can post to its wall unique offers, discounts and promotions. Offers can be distributed through the News Feed (to fans) or promoted on their brand’s page.This is how it works:

  1. You ‘like’ your favorite brand on Facebook.
  2. A business post an offer discount on their Facebook.
  3. You receive the Offer in your NewsFeed.
  4. To claim the offer click ‘Claim Offer’ headlines.
  5. When clicked, next to the ad a small pop-up will appear with details of the deal which will be emailed to your email box.
  6. To finalize the process print off or show on your MOBILE phone at the business to redeem your discount.

Facebook ‘Offers’ Advantages

For a business, this is a new and free social media marketing tool which enables their marketing efforts to spread fast, with likelihood to reach a large group of audience and get their Offers VIRAL.  As soon as fans receive the email they will have an options ‘Share Offer’ button (sharing is possible on Facebook Twitter and Email).

Advantages: potentially millions of people are able to see new offers, promotions and coupons and spread them even more when ready to redeem them.

When it comes to fans, with the Facebook ‘Offers’ service fans are in direct control over the offer they see. They can also receive latest top-notch offers from their favorite brands by either visiting their already ‘liked’ brands on Facebook, or by viewing the latest Facebook NewsFeeds posted by brands (those brands they ‘liked‘ previously).

Who Can Use Facebook ‘Offers’ Service?

The most recent offer which generated a good amount of buzz was posted by Macy’s. The offer was: “Get 25% off your purchase of $100 or more.” However, at the moment the beta Facebook ‘Offers’ is offered to a limited amount of business, in New Zealand, Japan, Turkey and Singapore and Australia. Here is about the Facebook newest service launch:

Offers are available in beta to a limited number of local business Pages. We plan to launch offers more broadly soon.

Often, good promotions spread easily and fast especially if they are attractive to a larger group of audience. Will finding and sharing offers on Facebook become easy, time will tell?

At the moment one thing is for sure, businesses have a chance to promote their unique offers with possibilities to get viral in a ‘split of a second’ with this new service. Reason is obvious, as soon as a fan claims an offer, a story will be added to his / her profile (timeline). By default, this story is visible to friends and their friends (this can change) and it can be shared not only on Facebook but also on other social media platforms.

Article by Daliborka Krstic

Last month’s Google Updates

Google’s search quality updates in March have been available now for over one week. There has been updates, or tweaks, for example in anchor texts, image search, navigational search and indexation of profile pages.

There are few items that stand out, and we will have a look at those more closely.

Anchor text tweaks

There are two items on the list in regards to tweaks in anchor texts: tweaks to handling of anchor text and better interpretation of and use of anchor text. The first one talks about how the specific classifier has been turned off, and the second mentions a new way of determining anchor text relevance.

Word-to-word from Google’s announcement:

Tweaks to handling of anchor text: This month we turned off a classifier related to anchor text (the visible text appearing in links). Our experimental data suggested that other methods of anchor processing had greater success, so turning off this component made our scoring cleaner and more robust.

Better interpretation of and use of anchor text: We’ve improved systems we use to interpret and use anchor text, and determine how relevant a given anchor might be for a given query and website.

The both explanations are very unclear, so we have to just keep guessing what Google exactly means by these updates.

Image Search Changes

You can spot a couple of items from the list that are related to image search, more specifically to the quality of the pages on which images appear: more relevant image search results and improvement to image search relevance. The first one talks about how lower quality pages with relevant images are rewarded; the second one talks about how images on better quality pages are rewarded.

More relevant image search results: This change tunes signals we use related to landing page quality for images. This makes it more likely that you’ll find highly relevant images, even if those images are on pages that are lower quality.

Improvement to image search relevance: We’ve updated signals to better promote reasonably sized images on high-quality landing pages.

Again, sounds complicated and quite unclear how these changes should actually be interpreted.

Other items

There were few other items that raised my attention as well. These are:

Better indexing of profile pages: This change improves the comprehensiveness of public profile pages in our index from more than two-hundred social sites.

Improvements to handling of symbols for indexing: We generally ignore punctuation symbols in queries. Based on analysis of our query stream, we’ve now started to index the following heavily used symbols: “%”, “$”, “\”, “.”, “@”, “#”, and “+”. We’ll continue to index more symbols as usage warrants.

Fewer undesired synonyms: When you search on Google, we often identify other search terms that might have the same meaning as what you entered in the box (synonyms) and surface results for those terms as well when it might be helpful. This month we tweaked a classifier to prevent unhelpful synonyms from being introduced as content in the results set.

Improvements to freshness: We launched an improvement to freshness late last year that was very helpful, but it cost significant machine resources. At the time we decided to roll out the change only for news-related traffic. This month we rolled it out for all queries.

As you can see, Google doesn’t provide us with very clear explanations regarding these updates. It is just us who need to guess how to react to these changes and how to start implementing them.

If you are interested in checking out the whole list, you can find it here.

Pinterest Sharpens Terms of Service

Pinterest is a new social media networking site and currently one of the hottest and most addicting visually-pleasing social ‘Pinning ‘site. In March 2012, Pinterest makes Hitwise’s list of the top ten social networks, sitting at #5 just behind Yahoo Answers and surpassing big names like Linkedin and Google+.

While individuals are Pinning and sharing with other ‘Pinners’ their, attention-grabbing photos and products they love, companies are using Pinterest as a particularly effective Internet marketing and SEO tool.

Just few days ago, this image based social network had rather standard terms and conditions, mainly: Pin it. However, after receiving many criticisms including copyright infringement concerns by users, Pinterest responded fast and decided to make few changes. Two days ago, on March 23, 212 Pinterest updates and sharpens their Terms & Privacy.
In the newsletter, the Pinterest CEO Ben Silberman explains reasons for updates:

“We think that the updated Terms of Service, Acceptable Use Policy, and Privacy Policy are easier to understand and better reflect the direction our company is headed in the future.”

Also, original Terms stated that by posting content to Pinterest you grant Pinterest the right for to sell your content. In the new Terms it is explained that:

”Selling content was never our intention and we removed this from our updated Terms.”

Among other things, the updates respond to how Pinterest can commercially utilize the information users post on the site, what you can pin and the use of copyrighted material. To read the entire update, visit Pinterest Privacy & Policy page. The new Terms will go into effect for all users on April 6, 2012.

Therefore, “If you receive a notification that a Pin has been removed due a copyright complaint, it means that the Pin’s content has been deleted from Pinterest at the request of the content’s owner. If your account receives too many copyright complaints, you may lose the ability to Pin new content on Pinterest, and your account may be disabled completely.”

Successful Pinning!

Article by Daliborka Krstic