Over the past couple of months, I’ve written several posts about structured data markup and the increasing importance of building machine-readable context and descriptions into content that’s created for the web. Structured data is already used by the major search engines to provide enhanced search result listings, and it’s also used by mobile search providers to produce more accurate local search results.

The trouble is that the world of structured data isn’t all nice, neat and orderly. There’s no single standard “how to” on using structured data markup. The W3C — the organization that develops and manages most of the web’s open standards — recommends two different structured data specifications. The Resource Description Framework in Attributes (RDFa) was developed over a period of years by a W3C working group. The Microdata specification was promoted primarily by the major search players (Google, Yahoo and Bing), and then taken on by another W3C working group in a sort of shotgun wedding. […]

Back in April, Google released a new major update to its search algorithms under the project name “Penguin”. The update didn’t cause the same amount of chaos and panic that followed the 2011 Panda update, but it still took a big bite out of the search ratings for a number of (previously) highly-ranked websites.

The Panda update (in February 2011) hammered very profitable websites known as “content farms” because it devalued or negatively rated duplicate content and content that the algorithm judged “low quality”. Now that the dust has settled from the Penguin roll out, it appears this update focused heavily on the quality of a site’s incoming links and on the “spamminess” of its content. […]

Nearly everyone who owns a website wants to see it perform better in the search engines. Good search results are especially critical for business websites that are expected to generate leads or produce e-commerce sales.

Unfortunately, a lot of business owners give up on search engine optimization — or settle for sub-standard results — because they think good optimization is too expensive. While an investment in top-notch SEO work is seldom wasted, two very effective SEO tactics fall into the Do It Yourself category and are often overlooked by many webmasters and site owners. […]

When you start looking through all of the statistics regarding your website, it can be hard to sort out what’s important from what’s merely interesting. Web stats reporting packages can confront you with a staggering variety of reports. There are as many opinions on what you should worry about as there are crackpot theories about The Government hiding what’s really happening on the far side of the moon. […]

If your website is built on a content management system (CMS), you’ve got a powerful tool in your hands. You can use your CMS to keep all of the information on your site up-to-date, provide fresh and engaging information to your site visitors and manage all of your site’s resources to maximize your search engine results. As with most tools, however, content management can be used for both good and evil. It’s the “evil” part you want to avoid.

Poor content management practices can kill your website’s search engine rankings in a short amount of time. Conversely, follow a few simple guidelines every time you post or edit content and you can improve your site’s search engine optimization. Use these recommendations as a sort of checklist to stay on the SEO straight-and-narrow: […]

So you’ve decided you need a new website, or your existing website needs a facelift?  Not so fast!  Before you choose a website developer and spend your money on a new website, there are several things you need to consider carefully in order to get the most out of your investment.  And there are some details that if they aren’t taken care of BEFORE you start building that website, could doom you to failure.

Make sure you know the following, and can communicate the answers to your developer, to get the best possible results. […]

Apr 5, 2012

Google Hate Me

Running your own website and trying to get it to rank well in search results can be a frustrating experience. Even though you put a lot of time and effort into your site, and you think you’re following all the rules, you still feel like you’re walking around in a t-shirt silk-screened with “Google Hate Me” in 8-inch letters.

Google, like most other search engines, isn’t out to get you. But search engines are pretty picky about the quality of their search results. Some sites don’t rank well simply because of poor SEO practices. Other sites, however, may do a lot “right” with SEO and still not rank well because they also feature very big “wrongs” in other areas. […]

When Google rolled out the initial “Panda” update to their search algorithm a little over a year ago, a lot of formerly profitable websites abruptly disappeared from the search engine. The update was touted as an attempt to sort out “quality” content from the vast wave of repetitive, duplicate and/or barely literate riff-raff on the big, wide Internet.

The definition of “quality,” obviously, is subjective. Duplicate content is pretty easy to spot, but deciding what constitutes “quality” content is a bit more difficult. As it stands, 67 percent of the search world (Google’s market share) has to play by Google’s definition of quality. Some of Goggle’s take on quality is yet being argued in court cases, but regardless of the various legal results, the basics of Panda-friendly website construction aren’t going to change for the average site owner. […]

Backlinks are links from related websites to your site, and they continue to be one of the most important elements in search engine rankings.  Search engines consider websites with lots of backlinks to be “authorities” or “popular.”  Unfortunately, getting backlinks from valuable website relevant to your keywords and search terms is one of the most difficult parts of search engine optimization (SEO).  Here are some major DOs and DON’Ts to help you build your backlinks.

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So you’ve heard that YouTube is the second largest search engine in the U.S., second only to Google (who owns YouTube and includes YouTube search results in Google SERPs as well), and that 20 million visitors search YouTube every month.  A savvy web marketer would jump on the opportunity to corner search results on YouTube. But just uploading a digital version of the commercial the cable company produced for you will probably not result in more website visitors and increased sales.  Follow these steps to create and promote effective online videos that generate business. […]

Search engine experts and online marketers agree that the key to attracting search engines and customers to your website is useful, unique, relevant content that can’t be found elsewhere.  Therefore, content creation is the most important task for all website developers and owners. Unfortunately it is also the most difficult.  It is very tempting to recycle content available elsewhere on the web (like manufacturer descriptions of products), or to provide bland, dated material that doesn’t engage your website visitors.  However, there are a few content types you can focus on that will drive engagement, higher search engine ranking, and conversions on your website. […]