Asif Anwar is a Search, Social, & Internet Marketing Consultant/Specialist working in Bangladesh (In Indian Subcontinent aka South Asia). Professionally consulting and helping small businesses on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) since 2003 and actively learning about Search Marketing trends from 2001. Passionate about SEM (Search Engine Marketing), SMM (Social Media Marketing), and PPC (Pay Per Click).
When you see abnormally high direct traffic in Google Analytics or other web analytics tools, then there is not much you can do, since most direct traffic is only shown as a number of views. With search engine and referral traffic, it is pretty easy to find out what happened. But it becomes quite hard to understand what really happened behind direct traffic.
Referred visitors come through search engines and referring sites. And Web Analytics Solutions like: Statcounter, Google Analytics, Awstat, etc. can provide you good insights in understanding the behavior of your visitors as well as the performance of your online marketing campaigns. However, direct visitors may not be a strange phenomenon. It can also be the karma of your direct marketing effort, online branding, email marketing, and it may also result from returning visitors to your site. If you see any abnormal direct traffic then you should understand that the direct traffic is coming as a result of:
Email clients like: Outlook, Outlook Express, Eudora, Thunderbird, and other POP or IMAP Mail Client Softwares generate Direct Traffic. Some assumptions of abnormal direct traffic from emails can be:
Bookmarks are the simplest type of reference to your site. Just to define it: Bookmarks are stored links in your computer, either in internet browser or files that automatically generate URL for your browser. So, any content that automatically generates URL for your browser will be a bookmark. Most of the Web Analytics tools can’t differentiate the source of the clicks from stored links. However, they should be more valuable to you, since they are mostly returning visitors. The links from bookmarks mean your marketing campaign efforts are maturing into sales. Bookmark visitors can come through the following types of bookmarks:
Most Web Analytics Systems try to load a remote visible or invisible image into your visitors’ computer through the browser. These remote visible or invisible images are customized image that work as your identity. Web Analytics Systems provide some sort of codes (usually as Java Scripts) that generate the command to load these images. It may not always be the case that the codes will come from webpages located your servers aka your website. The visitors can also come from other sources such as stored webpages of your site in their hard disks. Often if the Web Analytics code is in a blank page, it’ll still show the visitor. However, now most Web Analytics Systems show them as referred visitors by showing the exact location from the computer (e.g. C:\Documents%20and%20Settings\You\My%20Documents\My%20Site\index.htm). Often many computer blocks this reference system for external servers. It is then; the visitors are treated as direct visitors. In case, if the Web Analytics Systems can’t recognize or block the reference, the offline stored pages direct visitors can come through various ways, like:
Direct visitors also come from deliberate typing in the address bar of the Internet Browser. If they are doing that, then you have established your site as a brand in the mind of the visitors or your offline marketing campaign is a hit. A lot of people don’t come to Yahoo, Google or Bing through bookmarks or any reference. They really type the site name in the browser and press Enter or Ctrl+Enter. The search engine and referral traffic for these giant sites are rare. Every site actually strives to achieve this. Again, if your are running an offline marketing campaign, then the best way to go to your site after seeing an ad, is by typing the URL in the browser. There are thousands of reasons for this type of visitor typing URL in browser. However, here are some of them:
The possibilities of Direct Visitors are endless. But, Web Analytics tools provide you insight to only a number, not the overall insight on what actually happened. So, it is up to you to investigate what has happened. The abnormal increase in traffic may not always be good news. So, it is always wise to watch out.
If you are involved in Search Engine Optimization (SEO), either for your or clients’ site(s), you know how important it is to get the number 1 ranking for the most important keywords. If the keyword is popular, then it is a dream come true.
Or is it? How can getting the #1 ranking for your keyword can be a nightmare? Well, the answer is: ROI (Return on Investment). Your ROI can be disturbed in many ways for having number 1 position.
Why the #1 Position in Google and Other Search Engines Sucks
So, it’s not the #1 ranking that you should rely most on. Even if you do, don’t over-emphasize it, also don’t feel sad that you don’t have #1 position. You should have realistic SEO Mindset, depending on your financial and operational capabilities.
We are mostly ROI driven and strive to achieve the best ranking to boost your ROI. Without a good ROI, the #1 ranking in search engines can disrupt your business operations, marketing, and branding. Here is how:
Even with sophisticated web analytics tools, it can be difficult to identify the search intent. i.e. you never can learn what was the intention of the searcher, when they made the search and landed on your site. Most of the searchers don’t merely come to your site to buy your product or service. Bringing visitors is good for your site. But, bringing visitors with varied intentions and expectations may not always be good or turn into sales. These varied intentions can be like:
Most visitors will have different motives to visit your site, but it is obvious that it will not always match your commercial goals. Moreover, if you always emphasize your commercial goal, then you might not be successful both commercially and SEO-wise.
If you rank #1 for a popular keyword, you will get substantial amount of traffic to your site. However, all the serious and non-serious buyers will come knocking on your door for queries. The bad thing is, you may think all of them are leads, while most are queries. To keep up with the pace, you need to put more pressure on sales and support team or increase the size of the team. If you are offering free trial or samples of your product or service, then the increased number of non-serious visitors will seriously increase your operation costs, including sales and marketing costs.
Again, in any industry, contacting or comparing more than 2 suppliers is usual behavior of all the customers. And for B2B-customers or customers-of-costly-products, the number can be more. So, just being the first company they find is not enough. So, by being on #2 to #5, any site can do equal business as you, if not, better than you.
As mix of serious and non-serious visitors come to your site, it is obvious that the number of sales against each query or lead will be low, hence a low ROI. As the cost of goods sold increases, your ROI will also decrease automatically. Because, when the cost increases, you are increasing your investment, while the return is actually the same.
The intention of the searcher to go beyond the #1 position is directly related to his/her seriousness to purchase. So, the ROI of #2 and #3 position will be high, if they make the same number of sales. If you have a good sales approach and give better value than your competitors, then being the #5 or even the #10 company is not a huge problem.
So, what happens is, you spend your budget to entertain the non-serious lead generators, while the #2 and #3 position competitors get to eat the same fruit with less effort. Moreover, if your competitors’ sales approach more efficient or has better product, then they will just be piggybacking on your position.
Actually, the #1 position will be kinda like a philanthropic position to educate customers on what to expect. As the searchers go beyond the #3 position, the level of seriousness generally increases. Traffic on the other hand decreases. But, with the amount of sales that the site generates, it is able to generate a higher ROI.
The clear winner from a serious buyer will be the company/site that has good sales approach, quality product/service, and offers good value to the customer. i.e. if a searcher knocks almost all the companies/sites in the top 10 list, then there is no competitive advantage of being the #1 ranking site.
So, you are thinking about decreasing cost and increasing ROI, by not being philanthropic and being selective on who you reply to and not? Then, be ready to face the invisible wrath. When you don’t reply a customer, it has some ripple affect. Some of the affects are:
Think of a real life example of a shopping mall where you can buy similar products. You try to see all the offers, products, features, and prices at all possible outlets. You make the final decision based on the outlet that offers you the best value. However, there is really no advantage to be the first outlet seen.
The #1 position for your main keyword is highly desirable, if you can bear the expense. Moreover, it also helps to gain strong reputation. So, I am not discouraging your SEO effort to get #1 position in search engine. Again, if you don’t have top 10 rankings for your important keywords, then you have no chance in getting leads.
I am again not encouraging you to obtain ranks beyond the top 10 positions. It is really hard to find so serious customers that go beyond top 10 results. Only people that are data-mining typically do that, who may never be your customer.
However, if you are a mom & pop company and striving to make maximum profit with less cost, then you can use this mindset to stay happy with little. But, if you are a big company, then go for the #1 ranking, which you truly deserve.
Compiling all the suggestions presented by experts in last few days, Barry Schwartz wrote some of his tips for recovery for the recent Penguin Update by Google. This blog post an elaboration of the tips he place of his blog.
The Penguin Penalty Update was made to attack bad sites and level the gaming field for web spams. This is not actually another version of Panda Update. Because Panda is not actually a spam filter, it is rather a priority inbox :-) i.e. Panda was introduced to like better contents, not hate bad contents.
Image Courtesy: Dave Naylor
Let me start by describing some of the tips by Barry.
Just put only 8 (max 10) keywords in Meta Tags. Google has mentioned several times that they don’t use Meta Keywords for ranking. But, after the Penguine update, they are saying that they are now using it to hunt you down. So, it is about time you stopped stuffing your keyword meta tags with keywords.
I usually tell people to optimize site for only one keyword. And use multiple deeper pages for longer tail keywords or keyword variations. But, it is ok to optimize a page for 3 keywords. I know, I said 5 keywords few years back. But, things are getting pretty competitive, now-a-days.
I know many people that are still obsessed with keyword density. If you still are, then you are still in old school. Reanalyze your keyword density and try to reduce the keyword density of any page, if it is more than 5%. But, 2012 is the year of thick contents. i.e. quality 500+ words articles perform better than others. So, you can guess that even 5% would be more. Usually try to keep the keyword mentions right, i.e. not more than 5 times in the page. Do not manually or automatically count the keyword density percentage.
Try avoiding keyword stuffing in Page Titles. It is actually useless. Doing such things are also over optimization. Page Title is the major place to put your important keywords. But, the keywords that are available at the end, have no power. The influence is algorithmically discarded, but since Google is punishing you to have keyword stuffing in meta data, it can also be true for keyword stuffing in page titles as well.
Another place for keyword stuffing are the URLs. For Search Engine Friendly (SEF) URLs, make sure they are also not stuffed with keywords. So, de-optimizing your site is more about re-optimizing your site so that keyword stuffing is taken down to a tolerable and natural level.
According to the article by Google on the Penguin Update, there are really some hints about what you should do for de-optimizing your site. Other than Keyword Stuffing, Google also mentions other aspects that they are also looking into:
Outgoing links are completely unrelated
This means that you should be careful in what anchor text you use and which site you link to. I don’t think that the anchor text is much of a problem, but try to link to relevant site from your article. Even LSI keywords are also relevant. Try to link to the sites that talk about relevant stiffs.
Page text has been “spun” beyond recognition
I searched for the keyword “spin”, “spinning”, and “spun”. Looks like Google Inside Search Blog has mentioned the overly popular term Content Spinning for the first time. Though some are based on guesstimation, but see this old video from SENuke to understand the level of intelligence that Google uses for identifying near duplicate and spun contents.
I get many questions from people asking me what is quality links. Well, this should not be answered from the perspective of an SEO professional, rather from the perspective of Google. A Quality Link is voluntary in nature and is provided naturally (or organically) to your site from relevant pages. A Quality Link is always a free and enthusiastic link and not influenced by money or any other benefit.
If you have been doing link building from high PR but irrelevant pages just to increase the Page Rank, then you might be a Prime Prey for Penguin Penalty. It is pretty easy to suggest you to remove the bad quality links, but I know how hard it is. If you have already purchased links, try to find highly relevant pages on their site and try to get links from those relevant pages. If you are out of luck in finding relevant links, then propose them to create some relevant pages and have them linked from their high PR pages and get a level deep link, but from highly relevant one.
In future, make quality contents, so that they are either newsworthy or share-worthy. Actually social media marketing plays a great role in having your contents found now-a-days. And getting mentions is secondary. e.g. I found Barry’s article in Facebook and now giving link love to his blog with very relevant page title. I am not boasting, but this is indeed a quality link to Barry’s article.
You can also try to use link baiting technique on related topics to your business. e.g. if you sell Diamond Rings, you can start celebrity gossips around Diamond Rings. Or talk about most controversial story in your industry. Another good way to get quality links is by providing a news faster than CNN, BBC, Reuters. The first provider of a breaking news always gets link love.
Anchor text has been the driving force in passing relevance to a site. But, in recent years, exact match keywords in Anchor Text is thought to be manipulative. If you evaluate the anchor texts of voluntary links, then you might find that most of them are not using exact match keywords. So, it is high time to alternate your anchor texts from backlinks.
Those who were complaining about Penguin Penalty, most of them were complaining that the sites that were targeting less than 5 keywords were affected in some way. But, those who targeted more than 10 keywords, were in sound health. This is also an indication that anchor text alteration is crucial now.
It is ok to have exact match keywords in anchor text. But, try not to make it wide spread. It looks very much manipulative in the eye of Google. Always try to get links from relevant pages and don’t care about what your anchor texts says. Google also recently announced that they have turned off some classifier for anchor texts. Not sure which particular classifier they were talking about. But, you can help yourself in making the anchor texts look pretty natural.
Actually, Google Webmaster Tool does has this insight here (change yoursite.com with your site). If your anchor texts are natural, you should see varied keywords and many anchor texts listed in Google Webmaster. So, if you see limited number of anchor texts, then you have something to worry about.
Actually the suggestion should be: Avoid Sitewide Links. Site-wide links does pass some page rank but in most cases, it may also link to you from irrelevant pages, which does not help you in ranking. In recent Penguin Penalty, sites having sidewide links have been affected. Sitewide links are actually indicative of link purchase.
Try to avoid getting sitewide links from other sites, unless the site has all article or contents related to the keywords you are targeting. However, for natural looking linking, always try to get links to deeper pages, instead of the homepage. If you are using topical satellite blog or topical spokes in link wheel, try to link to deeper pages as much as possible. By topical, I mean having separate blogs in specific topic, not diverse topics and building it as micro-authority in a relevant niche.
If you are selling links from Blogrolls, then Google also tells you to use rel Nofollow tags on links. It is also a good idea to nofollow link to your homepage from spokes as well. But, favor only the deeper links.
Not sure what exactly Barry wanted to mean by this. But, in most cases, keywords in anchor text plays a great role in passing relevance to deeper pages. That’s why for sites in flash, footer links with relevant anchor texts plays a great role in making Google find the most relevant page for your keyword. However, there are people that over do it and try to get as many links possible without considering Content Siloing. Content Siloing through anchor texts in now more effective than just random internal links.
In Penguin Penalty, many exact match domains have seen less traffic. Exact match domains have been a part of the manipulation process. But, I personally don’t think that Google would be hurting your site if you have built a good brand and authority around your keyword. If you don’t have a good brand or authority, then there is reason to make Google believe that you are manipulating Google. So, to get out of the penalty, you should build a good brand as well as authority around your site.
After the Penguin Update, I really don’t think, exact match domain are NO (totally zero value). There is still some value in it. It is just that, sites that does not have much authority, should not get the Google love for having exact match keyword name of the domain.
Recently, Google has sent mails to many webmasters through Google Webmaster that they have suspicious backlinks for their sites. This has led to the idea that you can make a site look suspicious in the eye of Google. May not be a good one, but this is also another idea to make your way to the top by hurting other competitors.
But, personally I think you would be wasting your time. Because, Google has been working with Google Bowling for long time. Google Bowling is the term where Google discards any back link influence, i.e. they become nofollow even if they are dofollow. Moreover, Bruce Clay in SEO FB Group suggested a nice option in Google Webmaster:
I am hopeful that there will be a WMT disavow option soon so that recipients can essentially “nofollow” a link from the receiving end.
And with the Penguin Update and the negative SEO fear, I also think Google should be serious about Google Bowling and you might see similar feature in Google Webmaster soon. So, all the time you spend on negative SEO will be waste of time.
Well, I don’t think you need to do that. Actually, sub-domains are also ok for doing this. Google treat each subdomains as separate sites. And that’s how you see WordPress and Blogspot blogs multiple times in SERPs. But, this might also deprive you from age scores. I’d suggest you to build your site as authority. If you are determined, then fight it, not quite it.
Not a good one and I really don’t support it as an option. Sites with fewer pages rose in rankings as other heavily optimized sites’ ranking dropped. But, sites with good authority still are standing strong. Having fewer pages does not help you grow authority. Moreover, it is like doing nothing for your site. Serious businesses prefer having more and more contents. That is how they reign by becoming authority in their industry.
This is perhaps the most important piece of suggestion for both Panda and Penguin update. The better the content you have, the more the probability that others in the same industry will prefer you above your competitors. That will also help you build natural links.
Social SEO is real guys. You can not deny it. Many webmasters are running after only dofollow links. But, Social SEO made nofollow links worthwhile. And having only dofollow links also looks suspicious. But, to make proper balance of both nofollow and dofollow links, enabling social sharing is a good way.
Search Plus Your World was not only meant to make searches more meaning, but also to convert Google from a search engine to recomendation engine. If you asked someone, what is better than a search engine, then the obvious answer would be a freind or trusted person who knows about the keyword I am searching for. And Google always wanted to be that recommendation engine. And Google+ was not just meant for a social media, it has much wider purpose.
Social Signals from Facebook and Twitter is also important. Banded3 did a nice research and found that twitter mentions has great influence in rankings. If you are looking into the marketing in future, you should also invest much time in Social Media Marketing.
Whenever a new algorithm update happens, this is the first thing you should do. In perspective of the Penguin Update, the audits you should do are:
This has always been the last suggestion for every algorithm update. And Shortcuts were never an option in White Hat SEO. Every shortcuts are actually manipulating Google and Matt Cutts is also simultaneously taking actions against such short cuts.
Long term thinking also helps you to reduce the loss of effort you spent on your site. Moreover, the effort you put into the site steadily becomes an asset. Otherwise, the spammy links you made through money and effort are now a disposable expenses.
If I talk something about the future of SEO, then my opinion is that: SEO can not be done by agencies anymore in future. Though, it is still possible through agencies. But, people will need to build inhouse SEO team that understand the business well. SEO Agencies in recent times, need to have training centers or resources to train companies to market themselves. Or they can build specialization in specific areas. I already see this happening, because you can find Real Estate SEOs, Celebrity SEOs, Mortgage SEOs, etc. and in future you might see more product or service SEO specialization.
Moreover, Google is steadily transferring the power of SEO to individual level. I predicted this shift long ago in May of 2008 on my blog 13 Prophecies of Internet Marketing on Marketing Pilgrim (Prophecy #10: Personal Power to Influence Purchase will Increase). Some of the indications are shifting power of influence from forum to blogs, search plus your world, social signals, etc. Moreover, I strongly support AJ Kohn that Google will bring AuthorRank soon, which will revolutionize SEO to the next level and SEO will be more person oriented than website oriented.
So, it is not sites that can make another site rank well in future, it’ll be individuals or group of relevant individuals that can help a site or business rank well in search engines. So, SEOs in future will be great marketers like Oprah who’s endorsement is worth millions of dollars.
Penguin has hit sites that were doing much spamming and building low quality links. While Panda hit mainly onpage factors, Penguin has targeted offpage factors. Many people already have mentioned some nice tips to recover from it. Some are:
The term Link Pruning was initially invented by Bruce Clay, which is really the opposite of link building. It is the process to keep quality backlinks and delete the bad ones. The best tool that can give the the insight for quality links is Majestic SEO’s ACRank (replace yoursite.com with your site). See the video below to understand more about Link Pruning and also read the blog on Stone Temple.
In a recent post in Microsite Masters, they have suggested using Microsites. Initially this has been a greyhat technique. But, personally I think that it can be a good option to Silo Contents from external sites.
I think microsite does not need to be outside your domain. it can be in subdomain. Specially after panda, subdomains have been good way to Silo Contents. If you target and promote keywords and services like: Web Design, Graphic Design, Web Development, etc. then you can use External Authority Content Siloing for each keyword. External Authority Content Siloing from authority sites will help you to become bigger authority. But, for that you need to create separate authorities.
For commercial sites, there is really not much engagement. Rather, you can start the engagements on external educational and news sites or subdomain. I really don’t support having 20-50 blog for Graphic Design only. Just create one blog which you create as an authority (which is not really that easy). And another blog for Web Development and try promoting deeper pages of the bigger authority site instead of homepage.
Affiliate Marketers actually do that for you and it is already happening. Large companies are already doing it. But, their microsites are really not that micro. The philosophy here would be External Authority Content Siloing and I think since Microsite has less reputation, “External Authority Content Siloing” would be the best word that I am trying to support.
Again, if I support that future of SEO will be more people oriented than website oriented, then if you can create a strong supporter for your domain from external domains, you can stay at top in future as well. So, try not to create crappy microsites, just create a strong supporter for you.
Guest Blogging is actually not a new concept. It has been around for long time, as Ann Smarty has been supporting it for long time. And when I am speaking about AuthorRank, guest blogging will be more prominent in future. Since you really can increase your AuthorRank even by blogging on other sites.
It’s pretty hard to get quality links. Again it is also hard for people to get quality contents for their blogs. This is the phenomenon where synergies can happen. While other blogs are looking for quality contents, you can jump in to provide that, even by buying quality articles. That’s why in recent future, I think the SEO industry will be seeking for quality contents than backlinks.
Update: In recent discussion between Matt Cutts and Danny Sullivan at SMX Seattle, Matt Cutts revealed that Google is coming up with new feature in Google Webmaster that will help Webmasters to disavow some bad links, which will eventually turn a dofollow link into nofollow. This mean that the suggestion for such feature by Bruce Clay in SEOFB Group is finally seeing life. And this will help webmasters to fight negative SEO better and also make link pruning more effective and easy. Here is the exact word for the news:
He also mentioned — and this will be good news to many search marketers — that Google is considering offering a tool that allows web masters to disavow certain links, but that may be months away if it happens.
Google Penguin update is relatively new. The update went live at April 24, 2012 and this article was written a week later. So, most of the suggestions based on best guess and some of the strategies have not yet been tested.
Sites evolve a lot after it has been created. Even if the contents and themes are same for the site, they throw away the old bottle and take on a new bottle. But, with the old bottle, sometime the webmasters don’t know that they are throwing away precious old wine of the link juice. Even, many SEO experts and webmasters forget what they are throwing away and go for short-term solutions.
Not all sites goes for CMS at first. The common evolution pattern is from Plain HTML site to Animated Flash site and then to Content Management System (CMS) site. For some sites, the evolution pattern can be quite complex. Each time while changing, most site owners and webmasters rarely bother about redirecting old links to the right and very relevant link or page. While doing that, they are harming the visitors, hence their business potential, and also the search engines.
301 Permanent Redirects transfers almost all the SEO value of a site including: PageRank, Authority, Anchor Text and Relevance, etc. Since, Google rolled out the advice to use 301 redirects, there was a debate whether 301 permanent redirectlso transfer the relevance score in SEO. Matt Cutts in the following video has confirmed that Anchor Text does flow-through when you use 301 Permanent Redirects. Which does indicate that content or keyword relevance also passes through.
So, if a site has high PR inbound link to a page that is not on site or lands on 404 page, then the link juice and authority will be spilled and spoiled. Because, the Anchor Text and Relevance of the inbound Link page aka keyword stream flowing the link juice may not land on page that has that relevant keyword. And since the Google Bomb Update, incoming anchor texts coming to a page that does not have the keyword, has very little or no probability to rank well in Google.
301 permanent redirect does transfer SEO values to the landing page from the moved page. However, over time, Google also confirmed that 301 Permanent Redirect does not flow 100% link juice to your site. in March 2010, Matt Cutts of Google confirmed that Google does not transfer 100% of the SEO value. More story here: Google Confirms: 301 Redirects Result in PageRank Loss!
However, in my experience, we have not seen much harm in the redirect of links within same site to redirect old and broken links. So within a site, the relevance will flow perfectly. Moreover, it’s not just about SEO. Sometimes, many people bookmark you page and would want to come back to your site. So, in terms of usability, you loose potential future visitor who already has attained information about you.
The question whether 301 Permanent Redirects transfer age of the domain or page is a debated issue. But, there is absolutely no harm in 301 redirecting your old links to the relevant new links (with the same keyword). If your old link on the site is broken, then you are bleeding the precious link juice out of your site :-o
It is evident that to permanent redirect of old links using 301 Permanent Redirects to the relevant page in your existing site and new domain is one of the best practices in SEO. Because, many inbound links may be out there that are linking to your specific page using specific anchor text that is passing relevance to your site, not just Page Rank. So to feed both the visitors and search engines with exactly relevant information (not a 404 page), 301 permanent redirect is the best thing you can do.
Now that you know redirecting the old links and broken links to relevant page is very important in terms of SEO. What should you do now?
First you have to find the old links withing your site to transfer the relevance graph to the new site structure. If you were the site owner, you may know that after a hard guessing. But, if it is the site of your client, then any guess work will not work. The best way to find the old links on your site is Archive.org.
From Archive.org, you have to collect links from all available chronological versions of the site. You can use HTTack Website Copier to locally cache and create a list of URLs on the old version of the site. You also need to store the Anchor Texts used for the link, so that you can find relevant current page to redirect to.
If you don’t care about what others have bookmarked, and only want to concentrate on SEO value. Then you need to collect all the inbound link statistics along with the anchor texts. But, sometimes anchor texts does not say relevant content on the page that links to you. In that case, you need to collect specific keyword for the respective inbound link, so that you can find the relevant page or URL on the current site.
Once you collect all the old links, you have to verify if the link is broken. Xenu’s Link Sleuth can help you in automatically identify broken links from a link list in txt file. However, while working 404 pages, you will get wrong results. Because, when you have active 404 page, Xenu will show 200 OK Status. So, it would be wise to turn off the 404 pages for the time being. However, there are many software that can help you identify broken links.
Once you have the list of old and broken links, Google the keyword in the braces: [“Anchor Text of the Broken Link” site:mysite.com]. The first result you see other than the homepage in Google search, is the most relevant current page in the eye of Google. Create the link graph using excel sheet or any file format you prefer. Once you get the relevant current page, then you are ready to redirect.
For 301 permanent redirects, you need to manipulate the .htaccess file in your root folder of your site. Tony Spencer over SEOBook.com provides a good article on how you can do it, once you have the list of old links and the corresponding new links.
So the next time you plan to upgrade your site, it is wise to have a back up of your current link structure along with the old ones. So, when your site takes on new links, you can easily create 301 permanent redirect for the current links to the relevant future site.
Some SEOs believe that old links are stronger in getting ranks than newer links, if the content freshness is periodically maintained. So, you can switch the previous method and use the old link as the current link and permanently (301) redirect the current link to the old link.
SEO or Organic Search Marketing and PPC or Paid Search Marketing/Advertisement, both have same goal to get your site found through keyword search in varios search engines. So, is the goal so common that they should get married? Or should SEO and PPC date, or just stay single?
Let’s define marriage first:
Marriage is about mutual understanding and about the economy of utilizing the limited combined resources in an efficient way for better life, if not, better future.
Well, that’s not a perfect one, but in Economics, it should sound like that. If I translate that for corporate language than it would be this:
If SEO and PPC are operating differently, then they are learning in different ways. This can mean doing the same homework over and over again. Not doing the homework separately is very healthy for the economy. That’s why we see the giant companies acquiring (or marrying) the small companies. So that, the homework is not done again in the same economy. Even though, the giants have the setup to do it all over again. But, that’s bad for the industry. You are increasing the competition without adding any value to the economy.
So, whoever the husband between SEO or PPC is, both of their understanding can help each other greatly. PPC can use the learning from SEO and vice versa to reduce marketing cost and increase ROI. Isn’t that what the companies and advertisers are looking for? With mutual understanding, they can mutually reduce their homework and add value to the economy.
Before marriage, you probably have been using a small blender for milk shake that served your single user need. But, after marriage you can afford a better blender, which costs less than 2 blenders alone. i.e. you can also cut the capital investment and cost if you have SEO and PPC together. Moreover, they also can interchange their duties to perform other important tasks for the growth of your business.
You definitely have a budget for your marketing, from which you can’t go beyond. So, you should economize on getting more sales with less money. Since you are in fixed budget for SEO, you can cutout the variable budget for PPC, when you have competitive advantage in organic results for a specific keyword. So, for PPC you can only explore the markets, where you don’t have competitive advantage on. That’s should make the great use of your limited budget. So, managing these in separate units would mean extra cost for you, since there wouldn’t be any synchronization between these two units.
When you have total understanding of your Search Marketing, you can have the flexibility to implement your strategy and set the players in the field. Thereby, you can play a good and strategic game utilizing every resource efficiently. Moreover, you can also reduce waste or spillover, which is a major factor in reducing cost and maximizing profit.
Companies can gain greater ROI from the marriage and the management can also get all the information for their strategy from one source. So, that’ll make life easier and comfortable. It is obvious that combined SEO and PPC saves money for you. In return, you get greater ROI.
In harsh situations, when comfortable life can’t be ensured, marriages are made in the intention to have better future. Investments are also like marriages craving for better future. Getting the reward right away isn’t possible. Combined investment in SEO and PPC can mean quicker break even. Moreover, as resources are utilized efficiently, the chance of having better life is quicker than having them separated.
Now, if it happens that SEO and PPC can’t marry, then they can go out on dates from time to time to share things together. Even if they are separate, they should share each other’s learning from time to time by synchronizing each other and go toward a mutual understanding.
That way, some cost for advertising and marketing can be reduced by removing ad spending away from PPC, when SEO has organically reached its goal for a specific keyword. However, it can be more time consuming if you are to synchronize learning within these units.
If they don’t synchronize, then the best way to learn from each other is by staying in the same premises and experiencing social and corporate activities together. That also can expand their learning. This can also mean hiring same internet marketing agency with separate units running campaigns with separate PMs.
SEO and PPC in the isolated island may mean loss in terms of the many benefits I mentioned above. But, not always their marriage is necessary. Their marriage can encourage cost reduction. But sometimes for the sake of online branding and converting visitors into sales takes more than just strict control of organic search marketing and paid search advertisement.
In the sales funnel, from visitors to sales, the communication and information feeding should be made several times before the purchase. So, limiting your doorways for the visitors to your business can harm you, if you are planning to sale big.
In case of online sales funnel, remember that:
So, in all stages of the sales funnel, there should be multiple ways for the visitor to get information about your company or product. If you have done SEO and simultaneously running PPC for content network (AdWords for AdSense), the chances are, when the visitor is reading something related, s/he might come back to your site.
Otherwise, after going a long way, the visitor might buy from the last good outlet s/he could remember, even though you were in top of the search (SEO efficient) when s/he found you earlier.
This happens to us always, when we go to a special product mall. Everyone visits the front stalls, but you happen to buy from a stall inside the mall. There is almost no extra competitive advantage for being the front stall (SEO effecient), when you have product that visitors always move around to find a good bargain. Getting these temporarily lost customers back to your site for sale is called retargeting. So, for retargeting, you need to be more liberal on SEO and PPC.
Another fact is, the objectives of SEO and PPC is not same. Most of the time PPC concetrates on Conversion and SEO on Branding & Reputation Building. I said “most of the time”, not “always”. e.g. Most popular keywords may not convert well and will mean unnecessary PPC spending on visitors that are not in action mode to purchase. But, popular keywords are good for Branding and Branding is one of the major targets for SEO. This difference in objectives is a good reason to stay in separate units.
Well, if you have a product that visitors doesn’t care much about going for a good burgain (usually for cheaper products), having SEO and minor PPC dating is sufficient. If you are a small company, then having SEO and PPC get married would be a right choice. If you want to sell big, then SEO and PPC should stay single.
Your website is your intellectual real estate. Even though, you bear annual variable cost of maintaining the site, the cost never can be labeled as expense. After finishing your site, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Pay Per Click (PPC) to market your site, are they expense or adding value to your website? Let’s start with some definition:
Expense in terms of asset: The portion of the asset given away as variable cost for specific utility that has no reusability and to get the same utility, you have to pay again. e.g. advertising cost.
Asset in terms of expenditure: The expenditure invested as fixed cost for specific utility that has reusability. So with the investment, you get the same utility for a certain period of time. Please note that all assets are perishable, except for real estates. e.g. your computer is an asset not expenditure, but if you rent it, then it is expense.
The accounting formula
Asset = Liability + Equity
i.e. Equity = Asset - Liability
In another analogy, Profitability = Capital – Expense
According to this formula, you can get more profit by decreasing expenditure or increasing capital. So, the more you add value to Capital, the more the profitability, even if you have to spend some expense to increase it. e.g. when you buy an asset, it does not get accounted into expense, rather into Asset or Capital.
Now, in terms of gaining profitability, how should the expenditure on SEO be labeled? As “Capital” or “Expense”? If it is a Capital Investment, then it will increase profitability, otherwise if expense, it will decrease your profitability.
In cost type analogy Profit = Fixed Asset - Variable Expense
Remember that cost on capital is fixed in nature, but expense can be variable. In that sense, PPC is an expenditure for your marketing. It is instantly perishable and each time you have to buy advertisement to get customers to your site. PPC is also a variable cost. So, this affects the expense, not the asset.
But, SEO is not like that. Because, it is not intended for short term marketing. SEO has reusability and brings you customers even after the SEO is finished. SEO expenditure has no attribute to be labeled as variable cost. Once you have done SEO on your site, you have added more value to your site, which in turn can have resale value. It’s not just $10 site anymore (the dollar amount you used for purchasing the domain).
So, SEO expense is a capital expenditure which increases your asset and should never be treated as expense that makes your site a marketing machine.
We have tried to convince some customers that SEO doesn’t affect your profitability. Because, it becomes your asset. And asset is not expenditure that would negatively influence your profitability. The perishable behavior of SEO, may make it seem like expense. But, all assets are perishable. And we own a lot of short timed assets. So, if SEO expenditure is an asset, then you are increasing investment, not giving away money.
Goodwill is something that has economic value. So, it is an asset. And achieving this involves much cost on marketing and advertising. Without marketing and advertising good will never can be achieved. If you consider long term affects, then advertising can also be converted into assets.
So, the next time you spend money on SEO and advertisement (for good will) in an effective way, don’t worry about the profitability of your company, brand or site.
Click-through Rate or CTR is a popular term for PPC. But, here we are talking about SEO CTR, not the CTR related to PPC. And yes, SEO CTR now counts and has been confirmed by many experts that it does influence Google Rankings. In SES 2011 @ London many experts has confirmed that it does influence your ranking.
CTR = Number of Clicks / Number of Impression
This usually tells you what percentage of impression that makes an actual click. For PPC, CTR is a great measure for you to understand how well the ad is. For SEO, this also can tell how well the content is in the perspective of the keyword searched in Google.
For SEO, evaluating CTR was tough. However, Google Webmaster now provides this insight, which can also help you understand how you can improve your SEO. This is an earlier step, before the clicks get stored in your web analytics application.
Take a look at the new feature by Google Webmaster from where you can find the SEO CTR for your site for individual keywords.
The SEO impression is how many times your site get ranked in Google SERP. Even if no one clicks your site, you will get a impression count, when someone searches for any keyword that you rank for. And based on the clicks and this impression, you can get SEO CTR.
e.g. Your site ranks 5th for the keyword SEO PPC SMM. Searchers made about 200 searches in a day for that keyword. So, you will get 200 impressions as the 5th site every time. But, only 20 people among the searchers actually clicked your site. So, your SEO CTR would be 20 clicks out of 200 searches or impression, i.e. 10% is your SEO CTR. Good news is that Google Webmaster does show you the SEO CTR to you:
Searcher or User Vote
Pagerank and inbound links are external vote for your site. But, Google also needs to evaluate the user or searcher vote for a content. So, if you have quality external votes and also get many searcher votes, Google may like you a lot for the keyword.
If Google sees that a site is less clicked from 1st page of search result (SERP), while another good page in 2nd SERP is getting good amount of clicks. Then Google has every reason to believe that the page in 2nd SERP is more meaningful for this search query.
Evaluating Search Intent
Google has been heavily emphacizing on Personalized Search for few years. One of the thing they lacked, was to analyze the search intent of the searchers. The CTR can also be used to analyze the search intent of the user. But, my assumption for using CTR for search intent is not something that is prevailing now, may be in future. CTR has been applied by Google to not only rank the pages, but also to understand the search intent of the searchers.
I guess no one realized it since, Google may not be emphacizing heavily on this signal. Moreover, the searchers’ behavior stayed the same for clicking more on top 1-5 and less on top 5-10 search results. So, the external links’ vote is still prominently responsible for getting your site ranked. And very less people go to the 2nd or 3rd page of SERP. But, low quality and irrelevant Page Title can wipe out your site from 1st page of SERP and place you in the back seat.
Place the most important message including the keyword on your Page Title in the first 65 characters, anything beyond that will be replaced by 3 dots (…) and the searchers will not be able to see them.
Keyword Prominence (i.e. how close the keyword is on the Page Title) is an important factor for SEO. So, try to complete the whole message in first few words; don’t just push the main keywords back to the end. e.g. title like “A Comprehensive List of Tips and Tricks for SEO” can be “SEO Tips and Tricks - A Comprehensive List”. This way, by reading first few words, people will know what the link is about.
Using ASCII Art
To increase the CTR, you can use ASCII Art (e.g. ::-::-:: Link Title ::-::-::) on Page Title to attract more attraction. However, this is not encouraged, since absurd use can lead to spammy looking titles. If you ask my opinion, ASCII Art does attract my attention, but I’d also evaluate the relevance of a search result aka page. So, be careful in using it.
Category and Brand Keywords
You might have other noises in the Page Title, like category keywords or brand/site name. Try to push them at the end of the Page Title or beyond 65 characters. Don’t bother about the brand keywords, if you have the keyword on your domain name. Moreover, for having multiple pages of the same category, the category page might also get some boost.
Keyword Usage Limit
Previously, I used to suggest people not to target more than 5 keywords for a page. But, to gain high CTR, I’d advise you not to target more than 1 keyword for a specific page. Why? If you want to keep Category Keyword and Brand or Site Name Keyword in the Page Title, then 1 keyword is your maximum limit.
You have to frame the Page Title within first 65 characters and choose the best title that can create a spark of attention in the searchers. Apply the Human-friendly Optimization of Page Titles. e.g. many SEO software will tell you not to use any stop words. But, can you really make a good Page Title without using stopwords?
Short Page Titles
Long Page Title does not influence CTR, since Google does not show the keywords that are used further at the end. But, also make sure that you don’t have a short Page Titles.
Link Baiting Strategies for Increasing CTR
All the Page Title developing strategies of Viral Marketing and Link Baiting also apply for choosing the best Page Title, so feel free to Google around for “titling strategy for link bait and viral marketing” for more tips to increase CTR.
Keyword in URL
The Page Title is the most prominent thing that attracts most searchers. But, keyword in URL also is bold in green. So, that also can attract the attention of the searcher and create more relevance value in the relevance analysis in the searcher’s mind.
Keyword in Meta Description and Body Contents
Keyword in Meta Description and Body Contents is also very important in creating more relevance value in the relevance analysis in the searcher’s mind. It creates the text chunk, which is called snippet below the page title in SERP. This part becomes useful to searcher, when they think all the page titles in the SERP are relevant. So, in those cases, this can give you some competitive advantage.
Place the keywords in the body content with more relevant information. That way, when the adjacent relevant information will create more relevance value in the relevance analysis in the searcher’s mind.
Update: This is an old post. Facebook no longer provide Dofollow link :-( Currently, they use “Nofollow me” Rel Attribute for all the links. However, the current public profile of a person gives dofollow link to pages they like. So, the more fans you have, the more the page rank of your page.
Facebook has always remained the toughest walled garden for many years. But, one by one some of the things are opening up to public. And while that happens, many features are being indexed by Google.
Recently, on my public profile, I spotted something new and interesting:
The link on my public profile has this code with XFN Relationship Tag, “Me”:
<a class=”url” href=”http://marketinggossip.blogspot.com” rel=”me”>marketinggossip.blogspot.com</a>
Interestingly, no Nofollow tag in the URL. It is quite odd for sites like Facebook to provide dofollow links. Such dofollow link from such authoritative site can be very useful for you. Because, Facebook alone has the highest amount of indexed pages in Google. Here is the rank of Alexa’s top 10 sites, in terms of total number of indexed pages in Google:
Facebook.com - 1,170,000,000 indexed pages
Youtube.com - 293,000,000 pages
Baidu.com - 210,000,000 pages
Yahoo.com - 184,000,000 pages
wikipedia.org - 136,000,000 pages
Twitter.com - 118,000,000 pages
Google.com - 42,200,000 pages
Live.com + MSN.com + Bing.com - 29,700,000 pages
QQ.com - 13,700,000 pages
However, Google in some period of time, may weigh down the score of links from Facebook.
Now, how was this achieved? I have recently did Facebook Optimization on my blog. But, that was not the reason, when I saw several other profiles are also showing same dofollow behavior that did not yet do any Facebook Optimization.
I, along with several other profiles have mentioned several sites in the “Website” portion of my profile and seems like Facebook is currently giving the credit to the first listed site on your profile with dofollow link.