Search – Social media business strategies blog Tue, 24 Apr 2018 10:34:28 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Search – 32 32 Improve your Google search results today Thu, 17 Aug 2017 07:51:25 +0000 Continue reading ]]> shoes-wires

Follow the tips below to speed up and clean up your site.

Do you use a CDN? Do you blog? Do you optimize your images? Do you pay proper homage to the Google gods? And other tricks of the SEO trade

Chris AbrahamThere are so many things you can do on your own site today — starting now — that will help you in real ways with Google Search and your search results on Google’s SERP. Here are nine things you can do starting today to improve your search results and the quality of your visitors’ experiences.

Because so many people presumably make so much money “doing SEO,” there’s a lot of confusion as to what search engine optimization is and all the little things that you can do right now, today, to improve your the results on your SERP — search engine results page. OK, let’s start.

  • Go Rewrite As Many Titles as You Have Time For Right Now: According to Moz, “Google typically displays the first 50-60 characters of a title tag. If you keep your titles under 60 characters, our research suggests that you can expect about 90% of your titles to display properly.” You should keep the titles concise, but also descriptive. Don’t be cute. All of my titles are cute and I waste them. Remember, all anybody knows about any of your pages — including Google’s spiders and bots — is the title of your pages.  So, if your title currently is “Check Out My Latest Project” you really should actually describe the subject of the blog post or site page. Be descriptive and be specific.
  • Don’t Let Google Define Your Page Descriptions for You — Do It Yourself: You don’t have to care about the description of your page. There are two ways to get a little control: rewrite your first paragraph to describe what your page is about exactly the way journalists and reporters are supposed to, in the first paragraph. According to Moz, “Meta descriptions can be any length, but search engines generally truncate snippets longer than 160 characters. It is best to keep meta descriptions long enough that they’re sufficiently descriptive but shorter than that 160-character limit.” So, if you don’t actually write a meta description, Google will always steal your first 160 characters. If your site (say, a WordPress blog) allows you to write a summary or your page allows you to define a description, do it. And, if you come up with an excellent summary for your page, that description should include similar turns of phrase and keywords in both your title and your full content. And, if you really like your summary description, then please be sure to integrate it into your writing. Make it better, make it newer, and take it out of “archive,” which is what Google does if you don’t update your site’s content and copy every once in a while.
  • Add 500 Words to a Product or Service Page by Close of Business: Over 90% of all the outdated, over-synthesized, or over-edited sites I have seen just don’t have enough text for Google to really get a handle on. Everybody’s trying to be so succinct. I blame the elevator speech for this. We’ve boiled our business plans and our visions and mission statements down so far — a réduction, if you will — that they’re worthless to both Google and to someone who actually wants to use your website — your corporate site, your only cornerstone, your online HQ, your Internet everything! Why are you keeping it so brief? Why are you being so sneaky? Why don’t you sit down, fire up a stogie, pour yourself a deep one, and let’s talk about who you are, what you really do, why you’ve been so inspired, and what your real and true capabilities are.  As in long form. And, if all of this text and all these words break the aesthetics of your proper website, then be sure to share all of these cigar and rum moments on your blog or on a deeper, secondary page.
  • Link Keyword Phrases from Content Pages to About and Offerings Pages at Once: You probably haven’t done the most effective thing you can do on your own site right now: Every time you see a mention of your products, your services, or the names of your employees, executives, and cast of characters, you should hyperlink them all to the pages on which they live. For example, I will link my name, Chris Abraham, to my page on  See, it’s as easy as that. You should really do it.
  • Add ALT Text to All Your Photos and Images Right this Minute: All modern content management systems (CMS) have some place to customize all the images on your site. Even if you don’t know how, ask your geek. If you still have your website designer on speed dial, maybe you can encourage your web designer or your template-developer to help you out. Most downloadable templates these days make it easy to associate words with photos and words with images. Now, baby we can do it take the time, do it right, we can do it, baby, do it tonight! Why didn’t your web developer do it? Laziness. It’s probably even in your contract. You didn’t care at the time. The more pretty images, the better. But now you need to care. Why? Because Google can only read — and index and return results for — text so if a lot of your site is made up of images and graphics and graphics of text (are you kidding me), then they’re all invisible to Google. You always need to look at your site as if you were blind or visually impaired. By the way, here is how a search engine sees your website.
  • Connect Your Site Immediately to Bing Webmaster Tools and Google Webmasters: You really should have done this already. Click me: Bing Webmaster Tools and Google Webmasters — also, if you don’t have an SEO tool for your site, look into Yoast SEO for Drupal or Yoast SEO for WordPress. They have the tools required to make it super-simple to make all the proper connections you need. Also, bonus points: Google Analytics.
Night falls on a dock in the Yucatan (click to enlarge). Make sure to optimize your images for faster page loading times.

Night falls on a dock in the Yucatan (click to enlarge). Make sure to optimize your images for faster page loading times.

  • Optimize Your Images If That’s Something You Can Easily Do Soon: Don’t assume that your content management system automagically takes your 4MB and 2MB and 10MB and 14MB(!)images and squishes them down from your crazy 8 megapixel cameraphone photos to images that are especially optimized for the web. All of your 5184 × 3456 pixel images really need to be brought down to 1600×800 pixels — or even smaller.  If you can’t get your images under control via your server or your CMS, then you’re going to need to use Photoshop or something else. If your images are too big, your site will take too long to load; and, if you make your visitors’ experience sluggish, then Google will punish you and your search results will suffer.
  • Get a Faster Web Hosting Company and Learn About Caching and CDNs: Google be taxing! If your site isn’t mobile native or friendly, you’ll face a tax! If your images are huge and fat and take forever to load: tax! And, if your site isn’t responsive in the hand-off between when someone clicks on your Google Search result and the time when she gets to your page, then tax! If your JavaScript and CSS is cluttering up the page (instead of actual content): tax! So, you’ll need to spend some money on getting a fast server, a server with RAM and an SSD HD, super-close access to the Internet backbone, with the ability to scale if you get a flood of visitors, or not get flooded if someone else on your shared server scores a sticky meme. More than the $3.95 that you’re spending now or the half-assed server setup that your CMS website service providers have you on (they need to make as much delta as possible, right, we’re capitalists, after all). And, even then, you need to learn about how to make your slow-ass database-backed websites, your WordPress or Drupal or whatever site, faster through caching. WordPress caching’s pretty easy. And then, since you can’t be in all places at once, a content delivery network (CDN) allows you to distribute your site and all its contents across the globe. I have sorted out how to use CloudFlare for free over on my “I don’t want to be fat, sick, and weak forever” blog, RNNR. Not only do CDNs help quicken up your site, they also make proximity to the server a non-issue. If your servers are in Northern California and someone’s checking out your site in London would need to burrow through MAE-East to get to it. But, with a CDN, presumably there’d be a working copy of RNNR somewhere in the UK. All of this is worth looking into. At least for SEO, at least for Google. Because, if all things are equal, then the speed, quickness, and responsiveness of your site is going to be the x-factor.
  • Write a Blog Post About Everything On Your Site As Soon As You Can: See what I am doing right now? You might think that we’re doing all of this to help you. Well, yes, but I’m also doing it to help myself. Because Google loves engagement and popularity and visits and social shares and reshares and retweets. I have been taking my own advice since 1999. I do this as a burnt sacrifice and offering to the altar of Google Search. You should start blogging. Not for me, not for fame, not to pursue your writer’s life, but for Google. To Google Be the Glory Forever and Ever, Amen. And, don’t start your blog in or on or on Blogger/Blogspot, but on your own domain. Like, on Gerris Corp’s site, the blog post is — you should do it like this.
  • Use Images in Your Blog Posts (not like this one). You can find plenty of free ones at Pixabay and on Flickr under a Creative Commons license and on dozens of other sites.

Good luck. This should get you through the next day. Let me know if I missed anything down in the comments. I hope it’s useful for you. If you won’t do it, make me do it. I actually consult on SEO — check me out over on or email me at

Google wants a warm meal every day instead of a fancy Christmas dinner but once-a-year Wed, 21 Dec 2016 20:46:19 +0000 Continue reading ]]> grilled cheese tomato soup

Chris AbrahamWhy do search professionals scatter like roaches when the kitchen light comes on?  Why is everyone acting so sneaky all the time? Why do SEO professionals skulk around dark alleyways, offering their search engine services in furtive, hurried whispers?  What’s up with that?

Don’t we all know that Google Search is a somniloquist!  Whenever he is able to catch some shut-eye, a nanosecond at a time, he cries out in his slumber, “feed me . . . feed me Seymour.”

Not only is Google a Glutton, but he’s always hungry — and a picky eater, too.  In a perfect world, all of Google’s food would be steamy hot, bold with spices and herbs, and nutritionally rich.

If you and I don’t constantly develop ways to provide Google with all the taste-sensations, fresh out of the pan, out of the oven, and then beautifully-plated, then Google’ll definitely reheat leftovers — hell, he’ll fish out the meals ready to eat (MREs).

But, honestly, Google would always prefer to eat healthy. Quality over quantity. Google would love to get enough fiber, enough vitamins and minerals, enough healthy fat and presentation.

The internet webosphere is like greater Washington, DC on a weekday lunchtime: food trucks everywhere! Yes, also restaurants, fast food, fast-casual, brown bags of tuna prepared at home, hot dog and burrito carts, office cantinas, take out places, and by-the-pound buffet joints.

Before the age of the food truck, there were some carts offering haute cuisine, but it wasn’t until the rise of the food truck when the entire power structure lunch at least, was set: dirty water dogs, burgers, buffet salad, or sit down restaurant food.

The barrier to entry was pretty impossible save for a few rich folks doing it for vanity or experienced folks doing it for shareholder value. And the paperwork, licensing, and all the other food-hoops required.

But DC is big, hungry, and wants all the taste-sensations, fresh out of the pan, out of the oven, and then beautifully-plated; and we want our lunch to be delicious, steamy hot, bold with spices and herbs, and nutritionally rich.

Because DC’s already hungry, DC’s only somewhat a snob!  The majority of folks who work in DC during the work week is balancing between time, price, proximity, healthiness, preference, and deliciousness. And all you need to do is discover what as many of those things are and cook to order.

You can feed Google. You can even become Google’s favorite type of food, snack, lunch, sandwich, dessert, cheat, breakfast, dinner, late-night bite. But you, like every great cook, every great chef, cannot just make something awesome once.

You don’t need to make the Guinness Book of World Records and then done.  SEO is not one-and-done! It’s feeding the newsroom rather than just getting a novel out of you just to have written a novel.

I’m a pretty good cook. In fact, I have made some amazing things perfectly actually once (remember that Bûche de Noël I made that one time with the powdered sugar snow, the branches, the ganache and cake?).

But Google prefers hot fresh donuts over even my Bûche de Noël once it’s a week old.

So, stop sneaking around and stop trying to be way fancier than you’re able to provide every single day.

Google wants your content food as hungrily as it wants the the President’s latest transcript or the top headlines from the New York Times.  But only if it’s at least as fresh, nutritional, and as tasty as the other good stuff around it.

I sell web site and branding services for my buddy Mike McDermott of Bash Foo and the vast majority of all your competitors can’t cook at all; and those who can, only cook a couple times a year at the most, give or take a couple years.

While the bar is super-low for 99% of your competitors, the bar is nosebleed-high for the remaining 1% who have all that sorted out. Also, since the webinternetosphere is a global market, mostly, that 1% is still a very large number.

Google doesn’t think so. Google thinks that it really sucks that only 1% of all online content-providers offer more than complete crap. Those 1% (who are generally the same people who are in the 1% in the real world), the best-of-breed in Google Search, are the same people that Google, in it’s love of the little guy and it’s passion for egalitarianism and equal access based on an impossibly-low barrier to entry, fights hard to disempower.

Google wants diversity — your diversity — but Google also knows that the people who search using Google are also impatient, intolerant to junk results, unwilling to suffer ugly, unable to trust a site that is rarely if every updated, unsure about sites that haven’t kept up with technology and design (so many of our websites are the equivalent of shag carpet, orange appliances, avocado green counter tops, old stove, and a tiny ancient fridge with no stainless or granite or backsplash to be seen anywhere!

Come up with a content marketing plan that is the equivalent of my simple peasant meal of eggs, chicken, greens, fish, herbs, and spice, and then run with it. Make it every day. Just make sure it’s fresh, it’s honest, it’s make with the best ingredients possible, and you don’t cut corners. Put too much gravy or cream or béarnaise on your dish and maybe that’s an attempt to hide a bunch of flaws.  Gilding the lily is almost always a way to give an often deceptively attractive or improved appearance.

Cook simply, show your work, make it basic, use good ingredients, plate it lovingly, deliver it quickly (you all need faster sites), and you’ll become Google’s favorite — at least when it comes to the particular fare you’re offering, within your niche.

Now, your turn. It’s essential to think of Google as hungry and in need of what you — or anybody — have to contribute (Google’s like Wikipedia that way, but unlike Wikipedia, you’re allowed — encouraged – to create your own page!)

So, that box you gladly checked when you finished your website three years ago isn’t a completed task. How dare you!  It was just the very first version of a constantly expanding, growing, changing, and living collection of documents.

OK, after all of this talk about food, I’m ready to eat — ready, set, Publish!

Via Biznology

Ultimate SEO Checklist – 75+ effective techniques (Infographic) Mon, 05 Dec 2016 09:50:44 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Target audience: Businesses, brands, digital marketers, advertising agencies, SEO specialists, entrepreneurs, educators, journalists, Web publishers.

Post by Nirav Dave

nirav-dave-gravatarLet’s agree on the fact that SEO is a vast digital landscape that is forever evolving. Search engine optimization is the key factor that can improve your site’s visibility and ranking on search engines. So getting a grasp on what SEO techniques work and what tactics are no longer effective is essential for the growth and success of your online business.

Moreover, SEO itself consists of many on-page as well as off-page ranking factors (200 to be exact), and keeping a tab on all these strategies can be an overwhelming task. Additionally, you might find SEO guides that claim to be the “Ultimate,’’ and while some of the techniques employed may work, overall such methods are hardly ever useful.

Thus, if you have searched the Internet trying to find out the best SEO techniques to implement on your site and have not found one that best suits your business, no worries, because here is a genuine, up-to-date Ultimate SEO Checklist that can be used for all online businesses.

What this SEO checklist is about

This guide is a well-researched and comprehensive SEO checklist that consists of the best on-page and off-page tactics that you need to know about. Plus, to make it easier for you, this guide comes in the form of an infographic that you can download (and pass along to your colleagues) for free!

So check out this SEO checklist infographic and implement these 75-plus techniques on your website to improve your site’s visibility, ranking and resulting traffic!

Killer SEO Checklist [Infographic] by the team at Capsicum Mediaworks, LLP — click to enlarge

Killer SEO Checklist

Nirav Dave is the Co-Founder of Capsicum Mediaworks, a Digital Marketing Agency based out of Mumbai, India, that specializes in all things WordPress and SEO. He worships WordPress and loves to read anything and everything written about this exceptional CMS as well as SEO techniques.
SEO Mega-Checklist: 75 steps to increased visibility for your site (infographic) Mon, 20 Jun 2016 07:30:52 +0000 Continue reading ]]> We have published an updated SEO Mega-Checklist on by Nirav Dave of Capsicum Mediaworks at Ultimate SEO Checklist – 75+ effective techniques (Infographic).

How visuals can get you that click on Google Thu, 09 Jun 2016 10:47:43 +0000 Continue reading ]]> google

Use structured data to optimize your content for search

Chris AbrahamIt’s really hard to get Google’s attention. While content marketing is all the rage, it’s also provably effective. But let’s understand: There are ways of wooing search engines beyond starting a blog.

Google loves structured data. In a perfect world, we humans would be communicating in Extensible Markup Language instead of the unstructured data we kibitz on about in our sentences, paragraphs, and articles. We try to make it clearer by using categories and tags, but it’s often for naught.

One way to make things even clearer is to take advantage of structured data that Google understands immediately: events, reviews, recipes, etc.

In a world of text-only search results, having a splash of color or the integrity of a proper review can be the competitive advantage to get you the click

Google also understands ecommerce and products and so forth, but that’s not what I do. But I do love to intersperse cool recipes, book reviews, events, product reviews, and general reviews into my blog posts, especially over at my health, sport, and fitness blog,, all built up on a very vanilla WordPress installation.

I have been using the WP ReviewRecipe CardWP Product Review, and Book Review Wordpress plug-ins to turn my long-form verbose blog posts into something that Google can more efficiently digest and regurgitate in search results.

And, if you do it right, your search results will be at least as pretty as these:






You’ll see that, unlike generic search results, your blog posts that are wrapped in a review or a recipe will be rendered with either a thumbnail photo or a rating.

In a world of text-only search results, having a splash of color or the added integrity of a proper review can be just enough competitive advantage to get you the click.

All things being equal, which one would you click on? Text on text on text or a splash of color from a pretty little square photo and/or a Google-endorsed review with stars and a rating?Surely, the prettier one, right? The one that appears to have an explicit Google endorsement, right?

Of course you would. So what’s stopping you?

Google wants your business to invest in community engagement Wed, 03 Jun 2015 10:38:31 +0000 Continue reading ]]> mobile-phone

Target audience: Marketing professionals, SEO specialists, PR pros, brand managers, businesses, nonprofits, educators, Web publishers, journalists.

Chris AbrahamSearch has changed dramatically in just a few short years. Google now severely penalizes sites that are buying links or are invested in private blog networks. Sites that have dominated search in the recent past are being penalized or de-indexed, going from the first page to page 20 or being removed completely, stripping many ecommerce sites of millions of dollars in revenue.

Let’s unpack some of the recent developments.

Site optimization: This includes copy rewriting, internal linking, keyword research, Google Analytics and Google/Bing Webmaster Tools integration, integration of Sitemaps, structured data, title and description rewriting and organization, image ALT tag development, site submission, and content recommendation development strategies, etc. Much has changed, but site optimization is as important as ever.

Social media strategy for social signals: A site needs to be organic (never static), as Google tends to spend most of its attention on sites that are constantly changing and updating. In addition to editorial “blog” content, it’s always worth developing content, style, in addition to producing content only for social media. Using platforms like Pinterest, Google+, Facebook, Instagram, and other sites, are essential. Actually, MaddaFella is really underutilizing its YouTube site with its expensive videos.

Authentic, organic, inbound linking: Content marketing is an essential part of developing a strong organic search reputation online. It must be unassailable, and completely white hat instead of being invested in tricking Google. That doesn’t work anymore – and will work less and less well into the future.

Influencer Outreach

What does Google want? Google wants to know that you, the site owners and employees, and your community, your prospects, current, and past customers, are engaged in the success of the store. This is in response to people’s time, talent, and treasure being spent more on automated systems, advertising, link-buying, and savvy inbound marketing programs than on doing what brick and mortar businesses have been doing for generations: community engagement.

Bloggers: while they may no longer be the only kings of the kingdom, bloggers have a lot of bang for the buck because not only do they have a lot of SEO mojo associated with their blogs, they tend to be shameless self-promoters and minor deities themselves. As a result, if you’re able to woo them with your message or pitch, they’ll spend an inordinate amount of their own sweat equity promoting their own content across their own social media platforms and profiles such as their own Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, and even sites like Reddit, Digg and whatnot — including cross-posting onto LinkedIn, Medium, and other aggregator sites like Business2Community, Google News, and Yahoo! Do it! It’s worth it!

Facebookers: Everyone in the entire world is on Facebook. If you can find the right Page or Group, you could be as good as gold. And, if you’re willing to give it a go, you can become the go-to guy. You can become your very own influencer.

Tweeters: Twitter’s hard but worth it, if you can make the right connection. Don’t waste your time on small fries. It might even be worth it to search and discover the right hashtags, or even really spend your time and maybe a little money wooing one of the top Twitter influencers. They’re out there but they’re unicorns. I, myself, have over 50,000 followers but nobody really listens to me in a real way (though I do have my secret weapons).

LinkedInners: Apparently LinkedIn is a thing.  You’re on your own there.

Pinners: Ask someone else, though I really think becoming an expert in Pinterest would benefit you immensely, especially if you produce beautiful things.

YouTubers: My inner millennial is in love with all the top YouTubers except for Hannah Hart and Grace Helbig (not a fan, and they’re bloody everywhere, they’re YouTubiquitous!).

Social Media Marketing

Facebook, Twitter, Google+: You’ve probably got these sorted out already; though I seriously doubt that you are actually doing anything with Google+, though you should be.

Pinterest: If you offer products, you need to share your products on Pinterest, just make sure to link everything back from each product page of your website. Pinterest allows you to pin links and then choose photos that are featured on that page. If you’re just uploading product pictures to Pinterest, you’re doing it wrong.

Guest blogging: I hesitate to recommend this because there are so many d-bags doing this wrong. Be nice, be generous, be useful, be helpful, and make sure you tailor-fit your post to their site and their needs. Don’t lead with links, lead with valuable content.

Collaborative blogging: I used to just have (RIP) and then started MarketingConversation (RIP), a collaborative conversation marketing blog. Then JD Lasica invited me to contribute to, Mike Moran invited me to write for Biznology, Bob Fine invited me to write for The Social Media Monthly, and I’ve written for AdAge, Rosetta Stone, Huffington Post, and some other spots. Stop trying to be such a one-man-band: many hands make light work.

Editorial writing: A lot of my friends have serious success when it comes to writing for Fast Company, Inc, Business Insider, Huffington Post, AdAge, and all that — if you have the juice to command it. If you’re not already a known entity, you had better start off writing in earnest for your own blog or on sites such as Medium and LinkedIn.

Article cross-posting: One of the best things you can do, after you start producing content (for brand promotion, not SEO), is to do a little strategic cross posting. I think you should start with Medium and Linkedin.

Message boards and forums: Only do this if you’re already someone who loves and uses message boards. Forums take a long, persistent ride — a commitment to becoming part of a longer-term conversation, to become a member of the community. PS: this is the year of the message board!

You need to start now. You need to shift the money you’re wasting on SEO and advertising and spend it on setting up your other world, your social media doppelgänger, your social media shadow. Do it now.

Google Webmaster Tools part 2: Sitemaps & data highlighting Wed, 15 Apr 2015 10:41:54 +0000 Continue reading ]]>

This is the second of a series on how to use Google Webmaster Tools. Also see part 1:

Google Webmaster Tools for dummies

Target audience: Marketing professionals, SEO specialists, PR pros, brand managers, businesses, nonprofits, educators, Web publishers, journalists.

Chris AbrahamLast week I shared some Google Webmaster Tools tips and tricks with you. This week, I have two more: sitemaps and data highlighting. Sexy stuff, huh?

If you’ve been obsessing about your Google Analytics numbers, cruising the SEO boards, and picking through Moz and Woorank, wondering what Google wants and needs from you, then let me enlighten you.

google-webmaster-tools-logo-300x177Google wants you to be successful! They want you to do all the free work in the world on your own site to make it easier for them to make the handoff from Google Search to Google Found, where your site and your content is the Found.

So, instead of guessing what Google needs, you can work on conforming to Google’s simple list of essential changes that you will need to make in order to build the sort of seamless web of trust that Google demands from you before you become a respected and essential go-to in the wide world of search. And it has less to do with backlinks and Google juice from PR6-9 sites circa 2015 than it has in the recent past.

The short answer is simple: Create a wicked-quick, factual, easy to understand, mobile-optimized, machine-structured, beautiful site — that’s the key as we move into Google’s future. It used to be that all you needed to have your site perform was function; however, Google abhors both a vacuum and a high bounce rate.

If the visitors whom Google passes off to you in good faith via mobile, tablet, or web bounce for whatever reason, you’re toast. Being as visually appealing and mobile-friendly is as important in 2015 as is being highly relevant. People are as likely to bounce if they don’t like how your site looks or responds as they are if they don’t like what you have to say, sell, or share.

So, let’s explore what Google says about structured data, how both Google Webmaster Tools and Bing Webmaster Tools demand that you have a Sitemap.xml on your site; and, if you don’t, how you can use Google’s data highlighter to train Google as to how your site’s content and pages are structured explicitly through an interactive “show me” that Google is happy to walk you through.  Finally, if your site isn’t fast enough in receiving Google’s search handoff, then you won’t be getting that handoff for much longer.

And, aren’t you mobile native yet? No? Get with the program, Jack!

Google speaks structured data: Sitemap.xml

sitemapDetailsIn a post-RSS and ATOM world, Google needs a little help, especially when everyone’s trying to get so clever. I have a client who had decided to overrule Drupal’s default slugs and posts everything with the same URL structure:,,,,,,, and are all different categories and types of pages.

sitemapBlog posts, articles, press releases, and announcements are all considered to be ‘articles’ by Google but since my client hasn’t defined an easy-to-understand URL or site formatting that Google can understand, it needs a strong assist, and Google hopes that a well-made sitemap will do that trick.

Google needs your sitemap for two reasons: to understand your site (content and site architecture) and to grok when and how often you make site updates. If you don’t have a dynamic or frequently-updated sitemap.xml document on your site, you’ll lose out to those who do. Yes, Google can spider your site by hand, but why care about your site when other sites with very similar content are willing to take the extra step of complying with Google’s wishes?

Sitemaps can pass Google a lot more than just site structure, updates, and content, such as hreflang content and whatnot, but don’t worry too much about advanced features — care more about having one at all. It’s not guaranteed (though it is offered by default on Squarespace, which is convenient. If you’re on Squarespace, it can be found on

Google likes structure: Data highlighter

typeIf, like my client, you don’t have a sitemap installed on your site yet, you’re not ruined. Not at all.

Google has a very mind-numbing tool that can help you walk Google through your entire site, page-by-page and link-by-link, allowing you to explicitly define each and every page according to exactly what you’re saying, how you’re saying, by whom, and then down the rabbit hole of granularity, all the way down to content as specific as:

  • Articles
  • Book Reviews
  • Events
  • Local Businesses
  • Movies
  • Products
  • Restaurants
  • Software Applications
  • TV Episodes

titleTagSo, what can this do for you? Well, since Google is a bit dense, it’ll be your job to actually give Google’s spiders and bots a first-person tour of your entire site.

And, Google Data Highlighter is a little like their Google Authorship program (RIP), except in the case of the highlighter tool, it’s your job to do all the work yourself.

What’s in it for you? Well, according to Google, it will “improve your look in search” and “let users see your key information right in search results.”

dataHighlighterSo, if you ever wonder how movie, event, and news sites actually have their site content integrated in search results and felt green with jealousy? Well, this is how.

So, even if — when — Google asks you go through an hour’s worth of pages, correcting each attempt at structuring your data that Google tries, do it until you’re done. It’s worth it.

If you’re willing to bring Google to structured data and then have the patience to wait until it drinks, you’ll be handsomely rewarded, I promise.

Page speed and optimizing for mobile

Psyche. I think I’ll put off the important subjects of how important page speed (and quickness) is to Google and how essential being mobile-ready and mobile-optimized is for your present and future Google Search success until next week because I am on holiday in Paris and really want to take a jog in le Jardin des Tuileries before it gets too late so I’ll sign off for now.

Chris Abraham in Paris France with a Madeleine

Don’t believe what Google tells you about search Wed, 03 Sep 2014 10:55:31 +0000 Continue reading ]]> liar
Photo by Alan Cleaver on Flickr (CC BY)

How has Google misled us? Let us count the ways!

Target audience: Marketing professionals, SEO specialists, PR pros, brand managers, businesses, nonprofits, educators, Web publishers, journalists.

Chris AbrahamIf you’ve been listening to Google of late, you’ve heard their spokespersons’ declarations that you should go merrily on your way producing content for your followers while making no attempts to improve your search rankings through explicit means. Focus on what you do best and ignore all that voodoo SEO stuff.


I’ll probably get some blowback for this, but it’s time to call out Google for its — how shall I put this? — sleight of hand, half-truths and tendency to lie about this.

The following list of Google mistruths have some exceptions and caveats. And, Google does make examples of bad actors, which is all to the good.

But for the vast majority of us Web publishers, bloggers and businesses who just want to create content and have it read, you should frankly ignore what Google has been telling you about backlinks not mattering anymore, SEO not mattering anymore and other misdirections.

Let’s do a rundown of which SEO elements actually still work

How has Google misled us? Let us count the ways! (I’ll list my bona fides below, and I have my own caveat: Google hasn’t said that none of the following is important, but let’s run through all of these SEO elements one by one.)

  • title-tag-google-serp-exampleGood titles are still really very essential – Because Google returns search results based on the sloppy terms you enter into the search field onto a results page that pretty literally just passes your page title through, you had better do a good job of making sure every single page of your site has a very descriptive, accurate, and unique title. That’s all Google has and that’s really all you have when it comes to whether or not someone clicks on your content or not.
  • meta-tagsYou still need to write for robots – Google is smart. It does understand synonyms and can make leaps in logic; however, Google cares more about speed than cleverness. Luckily, there are so many people who pre-prepare everything so perfectly for Google’s thoughtless pass-through that you’ll always lose. Google doesn’t have to think at all because there are enough other sites besides your site that does everything right — such as writing for robots, literally and across a wide diversity of appropriate keyword phrases — that any laziness on your part will be harshly penalized.
  • google-page-speed-serviceSite speed is the most important – Even if you do everything right in preparing your site for a simple Google pass-through, Google will drop you as a top-three result on Organic Search if the pass-off isn’t immediate. So, after you make your site perfectly suited for Google and you’re still sucking wind, try upgrading your server, reducing the number of plugins you use, increasing the aggressiveness of your caching strategy (or, get a caching strategy), consider beefing up your server, putting our database on a separate box, get your ping down by getting closer to the the Internet‘s backbone or have someone optimize your DNS, or look into an Internet content delivery network service provider.
  • google_pagerank10_sitesGoogle is not a thinking thing or thesaurus – As a direct result of Twitter‘s success, Google rightfully feels like its results need to be real-time. In effectively creating an acceptable real time web, Google is generally in a constant feeding frenzy. A lot of cheating happens in this initial couple hours. And Google acts pretty dumb. In its rush to deliver content as it happens, real time, it tends to care more about filling the vacuum of trending breaking news than it cares about verifying. So, while Google does a good job of “trust but verify,” it trusts first. So, it’s still possible, even in 2014, to drive a lot of organic traffic to your site by just trend-surfing, news-surfing, and headline-surfing your content directly to what’s going on right now. You’ll just about always get a crush of traffic if you can be first to press on a big event, disaster, death, or announcement.
  • Even in 2014, you can drive a lot of organic traffic to your site by just trend-surfing, news-surfing and headline-surfing your content directly to current events

    Google is still painfully literal – If you don’t write it, literally, in a literal string, on your site, verbatim, please don’t be surprised if your site doesn’t rank at all in that particular topic.

  • Conspiracies still work on Google Search — As we have learned from Cristina Everett and the New York Daily News, if you can orchestrate a lot of people to write about the same topic or link to and fro or if you can conspire to write about each other or support each other’s content back and forth or even get everyone else in your little cabal to share and mention your posts, blogs, articles, columns, products, press release, announcement, or post, conspiracies of these sorts still work on Google, especially during its super-dumb feeding frenzy real time web “yay, hot donuts” phase.
  • Metatag keywords work – Everyone tells you that the META Keywords tag has been completely deprecated but I don’t buy it, especially on sites that are predominantly visual, graphical, imagistic, photographic, or based on Flash, video, Silverlight, or whatever people use because they’re not smart enough to implement HTML5.
  • meta-descriptionMetatag descriptions are important – This is what Google passes through directly from the pages of your site verbatim to the results in the form of the page description, second only as important as the Title. If you don’t provide a pretty, well-written, useful one, Google will lazily and hastily scrape one up for you, one that will probably suck and might even eventually result in Google deprioritizing your site (because there’s always someone else who will gladly do it right).
  • search-bot-alt-textAlt tags are essential – Google still really can’t do anything with video or images or photos or code blobs unless you describe them or label them textually in a way that Google can read and index. And, if you do a good job of labeling your images, graphics, logos, executables, scripts, documents and PDFs, Google will reward you by showing your photos and videos and images and logos and graphics when people do image or video searches or even inline in regular web searches. If you dominate image and video search in your vertical, it can really help your general ranking everywhere else. So, it’s not even just the ALT tag anymore, there are quite a few ways to use HTML Schema to tell Google what’s going on. Do it! Drupal, Joomla, WordPress, and even Squarespace make it super-easy so you really have no damn excuse! Do it! Do it!
  • Name all your files to be Google-readable — I spoke on this in the previous bullet but instead of leaving your photos and images with their default file names, be it what Adobe named them during some sort of slicing process or whatever your digital camera or phone named it when you uploaded it to your server. Instead of Photo.jpg, name your photo chris-abraham-portrait-black-glasses-black-t-shirt-socialmediabiz.jpg or something like that.
  • Quality-BacklinksBacklinks (still) matter – Reciprocal links, Page Rank, Domain Name age, and Backlinks are the core of Google and they’ll never really get rid of it. It’s their secret sauce and whether they’ve developed a new formulation there is still some sort of Google Rank or Google Klout going on — this Very Big Lie that backlinks no longer matter is the source of this article, Google is a lying liar that lies, as that’s one hell of a Big Lie.
  • Human readable URLs are important – If your content management system (CMS) still gives you URLs that look like instead of, then you really need to either install a plugin or upgrade your crappy CMS.
  • Google still cares about formatting tags — No matter what anyone says, use the <h1>, <h2>, <h3>, <em>, <i>, <b>, <u>, and their HTML5 and CSS equivalents — they add structure and Google hearts structure.
  • Google still indexes every page “separately” – You need to make sure every single one of the pages on your site are optimized. Google indexes by page and not by site. You need to have a separate title, keywords, description, and copy for every page and not just for the site. You need to either do it perfectly for each page or choose an SEO plugin that can do it for you automagically.
  • GoogleAuthor2Google hasn’t given up on Authorship – Even though 70% of all publishers, platforms, sites, papers, bloggers and writers ignored Google Authorship, Google rewards everyone who works happily and merrily toward making Google happy, and they’ll surely find a way to not deprecate the hard work we put into their effing terrible, unpopular, and alienating Google+, Google+ Pages, and Google Authorship.
  • Google kisses Google+ users’ bottoms — Go invest the rest of this week mastering Google+, Google Plus Pages, Google+ Business Pages, and Google+ Communities. Do it!
  • Google cares very much about site architecture – All robots and bots would always prefer structure data to the muddy hell known as whatever we like to read, research, and explore as humans. So, any predictable structure you can design into your site will be surely appreciated by the robots and bots of Google. If you move your site to a popular publishing platform like WordPress or Drupal, you will have invested in a structured platform that Google gets already.
  • Google still does care about Sitemaps – Google loves structured data and Google loves it when you let it know that your site’s been updated instead of just waiting around until a Spider or Bot comes around.
  • Google still loves RSS and ATOM –  Google loves structured data, remember?
  • Google actually prefers long-form content —  Google indexes about half a megabyte, 520 Kb, per page, so you’re doing yourself a disservice by keeping your pages limited to 100 Kb. And, Bing probably indexes upwards of a megabyte of each page. Each page, that’s right, and not your entire site.

My bona fides, or, do I know what I’m talking about?

Google-Plus-ImageI’ve been producing websites since 1993, submitting sites to directories well before search engines sent out bots and spiders, and tailoring content for Google since late 1998. Soon to be 16 years later, Google hasn’t left behind all of its old tricks — no matter what Google tries to tell you what Google organic search has become circa 2014. When it comes to how things work when it comes to developing a server, site, content, and brand to appeal to Google, Google is a lying liar that lies.

Google can’t afford to leave anyone behind

Every time Google has tried to raise us up and improve us as Internet publishers, they have failed; and, they can’t afford to leave our content or us behind, especially when they so desperately want the entire world to build a mirror copy of In Real Life online and in a form that Google can index and understand. As a result, they need to do the equivalent of making the search algorithm as patient, accepting, compliant, flexible, and empowering as humanely possible, otherwise, the only sites that will every return are sites that are heavily bankrolled. Google might very well be lying to us, but it really does care about the best customer service experience humanly possible. And, in service of that, Google has and will continue to turn the other cheek while at the same time telling us exactly the opposite.

And, if you want to read a lot more about this subject, I wrote a much longer-form version over on the Biznology blog.

Always write for Google, never for humans Wed, 20 Aug 2014 12:02:46 +0000 Continue reading ]]> google-bot
Google bot image by Jeff Lowe (CC BY SA)

To be found online, create headlines & leads with the all-powerful Google bot in mind

Target audience: Marketing professionals, SEO specialists, PR pros, brand managers, businesses, nonprofits, educators, Web publishers, journalists.

Chris AbrahamWhen it comes to dominating search, especially when it comes to blogging and publishing, you need to always write your headlines and copy first for Google, then for people. Humans (and their flexible brains) are forgiving when it comes to reading stilted, “robotic,” keyword-explicit headlines and articles, but Google is not when you don’t.

You always need to write the copy — the exact phrases — that you believe people will most likely use to find what they’re looking for — that’s who you’re writing for. It’s true, no matter what anyone says — even at Google HQ! The title is the most important but so is the first paragraph, especially if you can insert that copy into your Description Meta Tag and your Keywords Meta Tag headers. It just makes sense, especially with breaking news, when you’re proffering content that Google will not have the time to ruminate and deeply examine before they need to include it in the real time web where it will show up in search.

Google can’t resist hot donuts

As I have said before over the years, Google can’t resist fresh hot donuts. They just eat ‘em up. When there’s breaking news, Google is just passing stuff along, and the timelier the better. If you can get the keywords right and be the first to market (first post!), then you can take the headlines away from even the biggest players — at least at first, and especially if there’s a little orchestration.

Learn from Cristina Everett’s leaked memo

cristinaEverettCase in point, Cristina Everett‘s memo to her Web editors at the New York Daily News last week.

This is where Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Online Reputation Management (ORM) converge. It’s where I live. I had a big pitch the other day in New York, so I rode my motorcycle up and back. On the way home I played through my Stitcher queue. Halfway through New Jersey Le Show came on. You’ll know Le Show from its host, Harry Shearer. In every show, he reads through the week’s trade publications and then features a segment called “I’m Sorry” in which he reads through the last week’s formal apologies.

On Aug. 12, New York Daily News editor Cristina Everett wrote a memo to her writers thanking them for the awesome work they’ve done getting and keeping their stories about the death of Robin Williams written by New York Daily News at the very top of organic search:

From: Everett, Cristina
Date: August 12, 2014 at 5:33:00 PM EDT
To: WebEditors
Subject: ENTERTAINMENT handoff!
Thank you to everyone who did a great story [sic] with keeping our stories SEO strong with the * Robin Williams dead at 63 * header for the first 24 hours. Starting tomorrow morning, we can scale back on the robot talk (meaning no death header) just as long as the stories continue to *start* with his full name and include buzzy search words like *death, dead, suicide, etc.*

Behind every successful publication there’s a Cristine Everett

christinaEverettGooglePlusCristina Everett may well be judged guilty in the court of industry and public opinion, but she’s feeling the heat from above, isn’t she? Journalism is becoming a kill or be killed blood sport. She is probably being pressured by her bosses about click-throughs, ad revenue, performance, and all that — and she’s dealing with dinosaurs, also known as reporters, and those trilobites known as copy editors — professionals who only receive awards when they write carefully turned prose, not when they write the perfect Google-bait, search-bait, link-bait.

Cristina Everett will not get fired. She’s a star. She delivers the goods! She’s able to get her writers in line with both the stick and the carrot. She was able to get her Web team to write quickly, efficiently, and on-point, leveraging a global event, a beloved and universally adored actor, and a tragic loss to bring a heap of traffic, attention, and ad revenue to wee little New York Daily News, broadsheet tabloid gossip mag. Bringing vast attention, traffic, and notoriety — even if it’s negative — is ultimately good for the paper.

Robin Williams dead at 63

Were it not for the news story behind the memo, we would never have had the opportunity to see the truth behind the story: even in the post-keyword and post-link-juice, post-page rank era of Google algorithm updates Hummingbird, Panda, and Penguin, one must always write for keywords, always write for Google — especially for Google News, Yahoo! News, AOL News, and Bing News! It works!

Robin Williams Dead At 63

Pros like to make SEO way more complicated than it is

Write every single line, from your headline to your closing line with Google in mind. No matter how stilted your copy might be for the careful reader, you’ll never ever get read if you don’t end up in the first-5 search results on the first page of Google search — or Bing, Yahoo!, AOL, Facebook, whatever. Your article will never go viral, it’ll never be shared on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, reddit, or even on Google+.

So, go forth and optimize. And don’t feel embarrassed in the least.

H/T to Attorney Shawn Sukumar.

Google gets more personal as it becomes more personalized Thu, 13 Mar 2014 12:01:22 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Tilted Kilt
A long-ago activity resurfaces at a mouse click.

Will you be assimilated into the Google Empire?

Target audience: Marketing professionals, SEO specialists, PR pros, brand managers, businesses, nonprofits, educators, Web publishers, journalists.

Chris AbrahamGoogle can’t get hardly any of us to use Google Plus, but they’re still trying. And they’re pushing hard. One of the reasons I love blogging is, for good or evil, I don’t need any evidence for anything I say. With that caveat, Google is closing in on its goal of being federated across all of its properties, so be acutely aware. They’re triangulating us all and will soon be able to identify not merely what “you” want, need, and desire, but what you, yourself, (or me, Chris Abraham), want in particular, down to your very essence.

Rejoice! I am no longer 35–44-year-old white, college-educated, man, living in Metro Washington, I am 43-year-old, soon to be 44, Christopher James Abraham, who lives between Columbia Heights and Arlington Views off of Columbia Pike in South Arlington, Virginia, who owns guns, motorcycles, spends money on eBay and Amazon, and loves eating fish tacos at Taqueria el Poblano during his weekday happy hour from 4-7 pm — and many other very specific details of my life.

Rejoice! Soon all Google “organic” search results will be curated for my specific proclivities and all ads over all Google-associated and Google-partnered advertising networks, both online and offline, will be tailor-made, based on both my literal history of past searches, emails, subscriptions, and purchases but also based on a lot of cross-referencing that will try to predict my current, short-, medium-, and long term purchase and search decisions based on other close-similar users and algorithms that can now access petabytes, exabytes, zettabytes, and maybe even yottabytes real-time.

Identify yourself? With pleasure, Google Empire!

What does it mean? Well, I don’t care about my privacy, really, just my convenience. Then again, I am one of those guys who consider Minority Report to be more of a promise than a threat. I am one of those guys who grew up on the Well and the Meta Network, online communities that enforced real name anyway.

So, I am running full speed into the arms of Big Data to the extent that I recently gave up my Apple iPhone 5, a superior device, as my primary mobile device in favor of the new LG Google Nexus 5, a terribly flawed but Google-integrated smartphone.

Deep content that used to disappear into the recesses of search engines now appear as the first content to show up on top

I am sold on the Google Empire because they stalk me so good.

The problem with the iPhone, as far as I am concerned, is how balkanized the phone is. It’s like the US: there is a Nation-State, Apple iOS, but the true power lies in the States, the Apps. Google Android phones are ruled by a federated, unified, Google OS, Android, with the Apps being mere applications under Android, with many of the top useful apps on Android devices being fully integrated Google Apps.

In the last six months, Google has made a lot of progress bringing us all in from the cold: from YouTube, from Google Search, from Picasa, Gmail, Google Apps for Business, Android phones, Google Play, Google Maps, Google Drive, Google Calendar, Blogger, Google Hangout (née Google Talk), Orkut, and even Google Groups.

tilted Kilt

My friend asked me if I had ever been to the Tilted Kilt, a Hooters-like bar wherein the girls wear very revealing variations of the Scottish Kilt. I remember having been there years ago while in Atlanta. I searched “tilted kilt chris abraham” and the photos I had taken popped up in images, images that I believe I might have shared on Google+ years ago.

Until recently, these sorts of deep content had been disappeared and lock-boxed into the bellies of Google’s various properties for whatever reason (maybe to not freak people out, so that they felt more comfortable sharing on Plus without always ending up in search). Now, more and more of Google’s users’ content will be the first content to show up on top (as long as the content is set to public).


What’s more, Google has always been savvier than this. Google has always gamed serendipity by serving up search results that include the people who are in your Google network, be it in your Gmail Inbox, your Contacts, your Google+, Picasa, or through any connections.

My friends are always popping me notes saying how small the world is because how often they bump into my content when searching for information on social media, single-speed biking, digital PR, marketing, motorcycles, or firearms — yes, indeed, the world is small, but Google’s mad skills are making it (at least appear) smaller and smaller within your circle of friends and larger social networks. And, circa 2014, this will become even more refined and as close as real time as is “humanly” possible.

A world that perfectly reflects our hopes, wants, needs & passions

In many ways, the moment you step into an online world as curated by Google’s algorithms, you’re indeed entering a sim, stepping into a simulacrum of sorts, one of which Narcissus would be proud: the perfect reflection of your hopes, wants, needs, world-views, passions, and desires. We’ll all become the Kings of our online experience.

When Google buys applications, Web properties, new and cool websites, and all the rest, profiting directly from those acquisitions is not what they’re interested in, Google’s only interesting in heading you, as an online denizen, off at the pass. What they want is to flush all of us online grouse out of the bushes so that they can finally get a good bead on us. When Google finally gets us all locked in their sights, they’ll be able to finally identify each and every one of us all the way down to as close to our social security, passport, and drivers license numbers as possible.

And that’s an excellent thing if you’re willing and able to remain safely ensconced in the warm, soft, velvety embrace of the Matrix — like me — though I am not sure if this will reassure everyone as much as it does me.

And, since every action has a reaction, Google’s search engine algorithm has a profitable flaw: it tends to highlight and prioritize popular content. And, what content is generally most popular? Salacious gossip, embarrassing revelations, revealing photos, humiliations, and defamations. The dark side, of course, but also not Google’s problem: they just give the public what they want, just like anyone else — and if they didn’t someone else would — all the while running profitable inline, contextual, banner, pre-roll, and video ads. Good for me, too, as I am an Online Reputation Management professional consultant and expert, too, so all of this deep-digging through yottabytes of content spanning all of digital history is bound to make my phone ring off the hook from now on.

And all of this fun stuff is pinned to Google+.

As the saying goes, all roads lead to Rome. And Google’s Rome is Plus. Now that Google has us all hooked, they’re integrating all of these properties into the new Google+, whether or not you are currently a registered member. If you’ve invested in Google in any way, you’re a potential Plus member; and, if you know what’s good for you, you’ll just in feet-first. It’ll improve your participation everywhere else, trust me, starting with the world’s favorite site: YouTube. As you may know, Google’s changed access to YouTube commenting to prefer Google+ members.

Google’s almost completed their new roads project: all roads lead to Plus. Resistance is futile. Still fighting? This is quicksand, mate, stop struggling and just relax into Google’s vision for your media future, both online and off. It’s beyond your control. Enjoy!