Posts Tagged ‘SEO’

Build Brand Reputation and Visibility Through Expert Question and Answer Apps

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

There are a few websites and apps gaining in popularity right now that are focused on community-based, user-generated questions and answers. The top three biggest players in this field right now are Quora, Cinch, and Jelly. Let’s take a look at each one and see how they stack up against each other. We’ll also give you helpful hints on how you can use these tools in your role as a marketing professional or business owner.

quora_logo_620px

Quora

Quora is by far the most developed of the three platforms and has been around the longest, since June 2009. It is a question-and-answer website where questions are created, answered, edited and organized by its community of users. Questions are grouped by topic, and users can work together to edit questions as well as suggest edits to other users’ answers. You can also “vote up” questions that you want to see answers to.

Quora is available as a website, however they have also developed an iPhone and Android app as well. The cherry on top came last year when they rolled out a blogging platform. The last main updates that Quora released in 2013 is the ability to search the full text of questions and answers, and finally, the ability for writers to see how many people have viewed their questions and answers.

There are already many well-known people that are actively engaging in the Quora community, such as Rand Fishkin and Ashton Kutcher. This boosts the credibility of the website as a whole. If you’re new to the question and answer websites, this is a great place to start.

Jelly

Jelly

If you head on over to the Jelly homepage, they have a very well put together video you can watch that features the CEO and co-founder of Jelly, Biz Stone (Yes, that Biz Stone, the co-founder of Twitter.) He tells you the main idea behind the platform and how it all came about. Essentially he explains that they wanted to build a search engine that is built for today’s technology landscape. Their concept is “everyone is mobile, everyone is connected, so if you have a question, there is somebody out there who knows the answer.”

Jelly is an app that uses photos and people from your social networks to get you answers to your questions. It uses both your network and your extended network to give you access to a whole bunch of people who may be able to answer your question.

It was founded in April 2013 and naturally is not as developed as Quora. However, the image and social network aspects of the platform are what sets Jelly apart from Quora. Quora is much more text-and-topic based whereas Jelly is image-and-relationship based.

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Cinch

Like Jelly, Cinch is a relatively new platform and is only available as a smartphone application at this time (available for iPhone only). Made by the folks at Klout, cinch is “people directly helping other people by sharing their wisdom and knowledge and influencing them to make better decisions.” It is also geared towards the home advice industry specifically, so most users are interested in topics like gardening, cooking, furniture, and so on.

It was launched in September 2013, making this the newest app of all three platforms. It is not currently available outside of the US and there is no dedicated website for the platform. The developers are currently working on creating an Android app with the hopes of releasing it in the near future.

The app has received a bit of feedback from initial users saying it’s a great concept but some of the features are not quite perfected yet. For example, as of December 2013, users are not able to edit or delete submitted questions. Additionally, some users complain that the questions they receive to answer are not relevant to them. These are kinks surely to be worked out in the future since this is a young app.

What makes this app different is you can sign up as an “expert” and the app will automatically send you questions it thinks you can answer. The marketing potential of this app will grow as the number of users also grows.

How-To Use These Platforms For Marketing Your Business

These websites and apps are perfect to establish yourself as an expert in your field by providing authoritative answers on key topics. So for example if you sell a product like baby clothes, you can answer user questions on that topic and people will begin to respect you as an industry insider. The more answers you post, the more people will be able to read your opinions and expert advice.

Great for B2B and B2C Businesses

These platforms can be used as excellent tools in both the B2B and B2C industries. In fact, they offer quite a bit of marketing power for B2B industries, which is great news considering B2B marketing can be challenging in the eyes of many marketers and business owners. For example, Rand Fishkin is very engaged on Quora and answers all types of industry questions about SEO. If you’ve been in the online marketing biz for more than a minute, you know how well-respected Rand is on the topic of web optimization. Imagine the thrill if you asked a question and received a direct answers by Mr. Fishkin? Now imagine if you take the time to answer user questions across these platforms. You can become that type of expert in your own field, so that when people ask a question, they are thrilled to see that it’s been directly answered by you.

Track and Monitor

It’s best to try and get a pulse on your specific industry by setting up “listening” tools wherever possible. Quora lets you follow topics so you can stay up to date on whatever interests you. You can fine-tune your email preferences to only receive notifications about questions and answers you feel are important.

Finally, wherever possible, track your questions and answers to see how many people are viewing them, and actively think of new ways to keep your audience engaged and coming back for more.

Ready to ramp up your marketing in 2014? Check out our services, email us, or give us a call at (818) 806-3868.

Have you used any of these Q&A sites or apps? Share your story by leaving a comment below, on Facebook or LinkedIn.

Oh No Daddy! GoDaddy Redirects Cause Major SEO Issue, now what?

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

If you are a GoDaddy customer you will want to read this.

Part of our weekly SEO routine for clients is to check search engine Webmaster tool accounts, in doing so we usually find something interesting, disturbing or exciting. This week, we noticed that a domain that we permanently redirected to a new one back in December was showing as a top inbound linking site to the domain in which is was supposed to be redirected.

We asked ourselves, “How could this be?” Was the site moved to a new host without our knowledge? Was the domain being redirected properly?

And so our investigation began.

Our Findings:
This client is a GoDaddy customer and back in December we had permanently forwarded the domains in GoDaddy’s Domain Control panel which at that time issued a proper permanent redirect telling the servers and search engines that this was indeed a permanent redirect (otherwise known as a 301 redirect).

Today, when we checked the server headers it said that the redirect was a temporary redirect (otherwise known as a 302 redirect). We went a step further to investigate some of the other domains that also had been setup as permanent redirects in the GoDaddy system. And to our dismay, they are all showing as temporary redirects.

Arizona SEO: Checking redirects

We logged into GoDaddy to make sure the permanent redirect settings were correct for our domains AND…they were.

Phoenix SEO: How to set a redirect

We then called GoDaddy to understand why the domain settings marked to permanent redirect (301) were showing as a temporary redirect (302) in our third party checking tool.

The GoDaddy tech support person told us that “all of their forwarding now only issues a temporary 302 redirect” and if we wanted “to make it a permanent 301 we would have to do that at the hosting level.” They also could not tell us what type of redirect would be issued if we actually selected temporary redirect as an option or why there are two choices if they both do the same thing.

There are three situations for when you would use redirects:*

  1. If you are launching a new site and switching to a new domain.
  2. If you have deleted, removed, changed or are planning to change web page URLs.
  3. If you have a list of URLs that are derivations or misspellings of your company name/main site domain that you want to forward to your main site.

*Redirects can be configured for site domains and specific web pages/URLs.

There are two types of preferred redirects for these situations:

a) 301 which is for files that have been permanently moved.
b) 302 which is for files that have been temporarily moved.

Why are redirects such a big deal?

In the SEO world, redirects affect everything. A redirect tells servers, search engines and browsers how to handle the domain when someone requests it. If a page is deleted, a site is relaunched, or a page is renamed it is important for both SEO and usability to make sure you have those old pages going to either a new relevant page or appropriate URL.

If URLs/domains are not configured properly you can lose valuable search engine visibility. Keep in mind that people and sites are linking to your content and inbound links are one of the key influencing factors to search engine rankings. Use of 301 redirects should be used to preserve search engine rankings and any inbound links to that particular URL. This way search engines will index the new address instead of keeping the outdated URL. It is the best option to avoid negatively impacting search engine ranking.

The reason you don’t want to use a 302 redirect is this signals to the search engine that the old URL should be maintained in the index as an active URL, it just has been moved for now. This causes none of your new URLs to be indexed.

If a search engine doesn’t know where to go and runs into a dead-end URL/page this can impact your search visibility not to mention your user experience if they follow a link to a URL that no longer exists.

How do I fix my forwarding domains in GoDaddy to be properly configured for permanent redirection?

Note: If you are redirecting a domain, you DON’T want to just switch the DNS to your main site – this will cause a mirrored site and create a duplicate content issue for you. Search engines will not like that and you may get penalized for it by search engines.

  1. The first step is to remove or turn off the forwarding in your GoDaddy domain control panel. Go to Domain Management and find the domain, and go to Forwarding and click on Manage next to it. Edit to turn off.

    Search Optimization: Turning your redirects off in Godaddy

  2. If the web site you are redirecting to is hosted with GoDaddy, add the domain as an additional domain to the root through the Hosting Control panel.
  3. If the web site you are redirecting to is NOT hosted with GoDaddy, change the DNS records in the Domain Control panel to point to the IP address of the site you are redirecting to. Add the domain as an additional domain in your host’s control panel. Or your virtual hosts file.
  4. Add the following code to the .htaccess file for the main site. Make sure to create a RewriteCond and ReWriteRule line for each domain you are redirecting. Make sure to redirect both the www and non-www version of the domain if needed. And always immediately test your .htaccess to make sure there are no errors. .htaccess can be tricky, better to be safe than sorry. So always backup your .htaccess before making any changes.
  5. Options +FollowSymlinks
    RewriteEngine on
    rewritecond %{http_host} ^newdomain.com [nc]
    rewriterule ^(.*)$ http://www.newdomain.com/$1 [nc,r=301]
    RewriteCond %{http_host} ^olddomain.com [nc]
    RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://www.newdomain.com/$1 [nc,R=301]
    RewriteCond %{http_host} ^www.olddomain.com [nc]
    RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://www.newdomain.com/$1 [nc,R=301]

    It is wise to speak with an SEO consultant prior to making your site live to the redirects of old pages and domains are appropriately handled. If you are relaunching a site or looking to increase your online visibility? Give us a call regarding your SEO.

4 Pieces of Advice To Get Links Approved On Quality Blogs and Web sites

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

Link building can get a bad rap sometimes. Often people think it’s just spam, but really link building is a very beneficial component of a successful SEO campaign. Some companies buy links or hire companies to post automated links (which is heavily frowned upon by search engines and degrades the Internet experience, in my opinion). Why would you want a computer to do your work, when you can get better results by posting legitimate quality links?

Here are four pieces of advice to getting your comments and links approved:

1. Be real. I find the most successful way to get your back links approved is to be your authentic self. Go ahead, state your opinion on the topic, as long as you can tie it to the topic of your link or keyword. This way you’re posting a real comment as if there was no link there. Saying “Great Post, I will bookmark your site and read more.” is not a real comment, it’s spam.

2. Be relevant and respectful. Always make sure that the blog or article you’re posting a comment to is related to the link you’re posting. Once you find a relevant site, read the article and leave comments that reference something that was mentioned in the article.

3. Be a social non-spammer. If you think of link building as providing the author and readers with helpful information or added value in your commenting versus trying to get a link, you will likely see an increase in the number of approved comments. In my experience, being myself has worked to my advantage when link building. Occasionally my efforts are misinterpreted as spam since I’m including a link. On the other hand, there are occasions when people comment back and a conversation begins, which to me is very valuable because you are building a trust with the individual whose blog or news source you are leaving a comment on. They know you are leaving a legitimate comment and the fact that there is a link there is fine by them because they either like that your comment was real and related to their post or know that you may be working an angle by link building, but they are okay with that since you are adding value.

4. Don’t take it personally. It will get frustrating at times when your comments and links are not approved. Experiences like these can teach you about your link building approach and technique. For instance, you may find that you need to shorten your comment or try another approach, or maybe the topics don’t relate like you thought they did. There are so many factors that can determine if your link gets approved or not, but the bottom line is to not get discouraged and to keep it real.

photo love to: seattleclouds.com

Google Instant: Is It Really and How Will it Affect You?

Thursday, September 9th, 2010

Google launched a new feature to their search engine yesterday called “Google Instant” that allows users to start entering their search and based on past searches will “predict” what you are looking for. They claim it to be a “search before you type” feature that will make it much faster for users to find what they are looking for. After previous attempts at launching a similar feature in 1999 and 2003, they have decided that Instant is the winner.

Google Instant is search-before-you-type. Instant takes what you have typed already, predicts the most likely completion and streams results in real-time for those predictions—yielding a smarter and faster search that is interactive, predictive and powerful. – Official Google Blog

Is it really instant?
It’s not really that instant. It actually causes several problems. For instance, let’s say you are a Librarian in the New York Public Library which houses 11 million books. Imagine if every visitor who came through your doors asking you for help started their search with one letter and then added the next and then the next and so on and so forth, very much like a “hurry up and wait” scenario. That is what is happening with Google Instant. Each letter now acts as an individual query, pinging the search engine database on every keystroke. Which now means, it is not really that instant for new searches since there will be no prediction and the information you are looking for may actually be delivered much more slowly to you.

Also, there is a usability issue with prematurely hitting the enter button that causes further interruption in getting results quicker. There might be a vulnerability within Google’s automated query detection system. How will they determine which is an actual search query by the user or a script? I’ve been punished already for prematurely hitting the enter button, to which Google greeted me with the “Sorry, we think you are sending automated queries” screen and forced me to enter a captcha code in order to view search results.

Is it really a positive game changer for search engine users? What about Adwords advertisers?
In the past 24 hours, Instant hasn’t made my searching easier or quicker it feels more like the old “paperclip assistant” interruption on Microsoft Word than it seems to be productive.

In USA Today, Kevin Lee, CEO of search consultancy Didit, compares Google Instant to a manic companion who incessantly interrupts you as you’re trying to say something, never allowing you to finish a sentence. Google has set out to “influence what you’re seeing and distract you to view their recommendations,” says Lee. “You start to lose the individuality of what the searcher set out to look for, and you end up with search lemmings.”

How will Instant impact search advertisers using the Adwords program? If indeed, users get sidetracked during their search that means more irrelevant eyeballs on ads which means potentially a higher cost to the advertiser and less targeted visitors to ads.

Is Google Instant going to kill SEO?
No, as long as folks are using keyword based search engines SEO will still be relevant. Google Instant is a user interface change, not an indexation change, you still need to be indexed to be shown. The bottom line is you still should include SEO in your online strategy. Google won’t instantly (pun intended) know what you are relevant for so it is important they know how to appropriately index and categorize your web properties as well as where to rank you in search engine results. If you’re worried about how Google Instant will impact your SEO initiatives, don’t be. As long as you adhere to best practices and provide relevant, targeted content to users you should be fine.

In an article in Adage this morning, Google executives noted that natural search results, and techniques companies use to land higher in Google search results, won’t change. Johanna Wright, director of product management for Google Instant, said one difference is that they will direct users to “page two” results faster. “As you continue typing and narrowing your search, the instantly changing and refreshing results below the search box will be giving you more relevant results,” she said. “So if you previously looked on the second page, now those same results come to the top of the pile for you.”

For SEO and marketing professionals it may in fact prove beneficial as a research tool. “What may be useful is seeing the most common searches and getting results faster than using a SERP rank tool,” said Nathan Burgess, Senior Account Executive at BlissPR, a B2B public relations firm. Burgess also believes Instant may drop site bounce rates, and hits/refreshes to Google’s servers on bad searches and may educate the normal user on how to best use search.

Perhaps, this new feature will indeed change how our brain thinks and uses search. It is too early to tell. But, thinking back on all of the things that are “instant” doesn’t paint a great picture in my mind of quality. Instant coffee (taste), pudding (taste), polaroid pictures (still have to wait for it to develop and the pictures fade with time), fast food (unhealthy). So while Google Instant is merely a few hours old (at least in the public eye) we’ll have to see if it can give “instant” a better name.

The Trinity of Technical SEO: Latency, Indexation and Bandwidth

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

The Trinity of Technical SEO: Latency, Indexation and Bandwidth
As most of us know, SEO goes way beyond Titles, Tags and keyword selection. Gone are the days where heavily optimizing a page for “crazy purple widgets” will get you where you want to be. As the Search Engines focus on their core goal of providing the most authoritative and relevant results for each query we as Internet Marketers are faced with a new challenge. As web technology progresses, we must look beyond what a site “says” and look at what a site “is”. Structure and construction become even more important.

Site Latency: How fast do your site pages load?
Let’s first start with Latency. The Latency of a site is the speed in which the page loads for a visitor. There are many factors that contribute to the Latency of a web page including, but not limited to, site construction, reliance on external resources, server capacity, page size, etc. We do our best to reach a happy medium with the factors we can control. Not every site can afford Google-size processors and server capacity; most are sharing their server with hundreds or thousands of other sites. When this is the case we have to focus on factors we have more of an influence on like how our site is constructed and how bulky it is. In the end there is only so much speed you can get out of your site for your given budget.

How does one assess site Latency?
There are many tools out there that can be used for testing the latency of a site. Some are paid which we use extensively, and some are free, which we also use extensively. One of the most useful resources is Google Webmaster Tools. In April 2010, Google officially announced they would be incorporating site speed as one of the 200+ site signals used in determining search rankings and now have become sort of the de facto authority on this topic. Let’s use an actual site example where we are using Google Webmaster tools.

This is a site that relies very heavily on external resources, with a lot of multimedia. There is no way around this, so the speed of the site is limited by the speed of anywhere from 6-12 other servers to provide it with the data it needs to load a page. Here is a screenshot from Google Webmaster tools showing the time it takes to load a page:


As you can see, over the last 90 days the sites pages load on average just over 4 seconds. This is a site that has been receiving exponentially more traffic over this time frame. I want to also make the point that in the third week of June the site was redesigned and recoded for a better user experience and greater efficiency. As such, you can see the line is very erratic until July when the spikes smooth out a bit and on average the time has decreased. Remember we are only talking a spread of 1.3 seconds between the high and low. Not a huge amount off is it? Most visitors wouldn’t even notice a difference. But Search Engines do.

This brings us to Bandwidth.
Bandwidth is defined as “the maximum amount of information (bits/second) that can be transmitted along a channel”. Why does this matter? Search Engines have a limited amount of capacity available. Granted, their “limited capacity” far exceeds anything most of us can dream of, but it is also a really big Internet to crawl (over a trillion pages). Based on this, the Search Engines will allocate a certain amount of resources to crawling a particular website based on its perceived value (whether it is stated or not). CNN.com is going to get a substantially larger portion of Google’s resources than my Dog in Funny Hats blog.

So what does this mean to the rest of us? It means that we have to make the best use of the resources that are given to us. Basically, when Google comes a-knockin’ it is in your best interest to make sure it has the most clear path through your site and can get as much information as possible before it leaves for its next appointment (probably cnn.com). This is why building the most search-friendly efficient site is critical.

Below is a screenshot of the same site, same time period as before, this time showing how much bandwidth is afforded this site by Google in a given day:

Notice the trend of increasing bandwidth up until the third week of June, when the new site design was launched. Immediately before the 2.0 version of the site was launched the site was receiving a peak high of almost 89,000KB of attention from Google. Then it decreased substantially and immediately to 12,000KB and has since settled in somewhere around 39,000KB. The initial impulse is to look at this and say that a mistake was made, Google isn’t as interested in crawling this site anymore. This next screenshot shows the truth – how many pages is Google crawling in a given day:

This chart pretty much speaks for itself. Based on this chart we can see, that while the Latency of the site has only moved within a narrow band, the bandwidth usage has dropped considerably, which has allowed Google to crawl more pages on a given visit. This is a strong case for optimizing your entire site presence, not just your Titles and Tags. During this time period of this example, no on-site SEO elements were changed.

And by the way this third chart mimics the organic site traffic trend as well. How well is your site performing, contact us today to conduct a Technical Site Assessment and start improving or rebuilding your online presence?

Turkey Teaches SEO and Social Media #thanksgiving

Monday, November 30th, 2009

seo-socialmedia-turkeyLast year in my hurry to get everything prepared, cooked and ready for our glorious Thanksgiving spread, I forgot to change the setting on my oven after roasting veggies from “broil” to “bake” and my turkey only cooked half way. The top of the turkey was juicy and a gorgeous golden brown, but the bottom was severely undercooked and I had 14 hungry turkey bird eaters ready to feast. And well, my turkey mishap got me thinking about similarities between SEO and Social Media.

Turkey Mishap teaches SEO

    1. Due to appropriate preparation and continuous basting, the turkey browned nicely. It looked good from the outside but this was merely on the surface. Similar to optimizing your web site for search engines, optimizing your titles and metadata isn’t enough. Make sure all elements of your site are optimized, from site architecture to content and multimedia to alt tags. Some of these elements are proving to be more influential and are often overlooked by many so-called SEO practitioners.

    2. Once the turkey was in, it was on the “set it and forget it” method. Like cooking a turkey, SEO is not a “set it and forget it” initiative. Just as I should have been monitoring the progress of the turkey, your SEO efforts need to be monitored continuously for progress and adjusted accordingly to achieve desired results.

Turkey Mishap teaches Social Media

    1. Although I was mortified by my mistake, I assembled the appropriate team to help me deal with the situation and I didn’t hide from my mistake (although I wanted to). In your Social Media communication it is important to remember that your customers know you will make mistakes, but it is how you handle them that they will be watching. Remember, be human. People make mistakes and don’t be afraid to get others involved to help you solve the issue.

    2. There was no mistaking that the turkey was undercooked when we cut into it. Same for your Social Media communication, people will see through the golden brown coating if you don’t have a well planned and executed social media strategy. A good product and great customer service are only two of the ingredients in a recipe for social media success.

    3. If at first you don’t succeed, fail fast, and then re-evaluate how to resolve and respond to the situation. Then, move forward quickly, the side dishes are getting cold and people will start to leave if you are unable to respond to the situation or provide an adequate solution.

    4. Don’t try to do too many things at once, but if you do, have a plan. Most importantly surround yourself with people who can help you implement and execute your plan seamlessly.

Gobble Gobble Lessons for SEO and Social Media

    1. Track and monitor progress; adjust along the way. Don’t get to the end to find out only half the plan worked or yielded you half the results you were expecting.

    2. Check to see if the oven is on. Review all elements and components of your Social Media Plan and on-site and off-site SEO. Sometimes it can be the most simple and obvious things that can foil your plan.

    3. Share your experience. Mistakes create an opportunity…for content! Case studies, articles, contests, etc. How can you share your experience to benefit your customers or provide added value to others?

Happy to say this year the turkey was juicy and delicious…and cooked all the way through. Picture above. Happy Holidays.