September 26, 2013

7 strategies for succeeding in the new Google Search

search
Image by Fairfax County on Flickr

Changes in search results require changes in content & marketing strategies

This is the second of a two-part series on Google Search. Also see:
Content strategies to deal with Google Panda & Google Penguin

Target audience: Marketing professionals, SEO specialists, PR professionals, mobile strategists, businesses, nonprofits, Google Plus users.

Chris AbrahamAcouple years ago, search engine optimization (SEO) held a lot of secrets. But that’s not quite as true today.

To a large extent, SEO today has become a war between Google’s vision of what quality and valuable search results should look like — and the rewards conferred to anyone who can just produce content that meets those stringent standards — and an entire industry that is committed to finding every shortcut and loophole possible and systematically exploiting those loopholes for as long as possible until they’re closed. The entire SEO industry has been almost entirely fueled by exploiting shortcuts, loopholes, link syndicates, link conspiracies, strategic linking, shadow linking, and shadow content. And it’s mostly worked, too, until recently. Until Google really started rolling out Panda and Penguin algorithms, as I wrote about Monday. Continue reading

August 29, 2012

Remove those regrettable online reputation tattoos

Chris AbrahamThe way you feel now about all those photos of you at the beach, in your suit, body-proud, tanned and drinking — liberation and joy — may end up making you feel completely different in your near future — trapped and ashamed. No matter how young you may be, reading these words, you need to start thinking long-game when it comes to your online reputation.

You’re at the mercy of the Panopticon: networked cameras are almost ubiquitous

Your online reputation on Google Search is a culmination of all your separate, discrete (or indiscreet) choices — sort of like tattoos — and it’s always easier to not get inked in the first place than it is live with the consequences or go through the pain and expense of having all of your tribal, prison, lower-back, ankle, neck, and face tattoos removed. Continue reading

August 16, 2012

Is Google turning from a search engine into a publisher?


From left, Incisive Media Global VP Mike Grehan, Matt Cutts of Google, Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land and Brett Tabke, who runs PubCon (Photo by Search Engine Land).

Webmasters push back against recent changes at Google

Target audience: Businesses, brands, marketers, search specialists, SEO experts, Web publishers — anyone with a business website.

JD LasicaBy and large over the years on number of fronts — search, mobile, open source, public policy — Google has generally worn the white hat. They’ve played the good guys in this still unfolding Internet saga right from the start. Back when search was still young, as I wrote in 2001, Google decreed that there must be a clear demarcation between search results and sponsored links, and it has been thus ever since.

So it was somewhat jarring to see the cool reception that Google’s Matt Cutts — probably Google’s biggest superstar behind Larry, Sergey and Eric — received yesterday at the Search Engine Strategies conference in San Francisco. Cutts laid out a rosy portrait of the company’s Knowledge Graph, unveiled last week. Search on “chiefs” on Kansas City and you’ll get a different result than if you searched out the Chiefs rugby team in Australia or New Zealand. (For the possible downsides of this, see my interview with Eli Pariser, author of “The Filter Bubble.”)

But Google is doing more than just personalization, and audience members took to the microphone to push back. Their objection came down to this: By all appearances, Google’s recent moves seem to be moving the company away from its search roots and more into the role of an online publisher, a one-stop shop, a commercial Wikipedia. Continue reading

November 9, 2011

Max SEO with 8 simple Google+ steps

Chris AbrahamLet me boil my last post, Here’s why it make sense to use Google Plus, down to practical pieces. Part of what makes a technology premature is that you have to be careful how you use it, because it isn’t mature enough to just work no matter what you do with it. To help you carefully handle Google+ for maximum advantage, I’ve assembled eight steps that help you get the best search visibility from your Google+ posts. These tips are simple, but some are easy to overlook. I hacked this awful-looking graphic as an example:

Optimizing Google+ for optimal SEO

Here’s a list of things that you need to consider before you invest your time and energy in Google+:

  • Make sure all your posts are Public. You can add more circles in order to spur interest among your friends, but be sure you explicitly tell Google, through your willingness to share publicly, that they can index your content in their public search engine. Check this every time because sometimes Public isn’t always selected, depending on the situation. Here’s my Google+ public profile.
  • Use a clean URL when you add your content to Google+. Google+ hasn’t been translating URL shorteners well, so use a link from the source. This will not only allow Google to better populate the content as you see above, including the Title, Blog Name, Description, and an Image from the post, but it will also allow that content to be cross-referenced to any Google +1 “likes” from others within Google+ and the rest of the Googlephere. Site URLs are translated the way they are on Facebook. You need to paste the URL into the “Share what’s new…” text box.
  • Prefixing names with a plus sign links that name to the person’s profile on Google+. You can include your friends and people you’re connected to on G+ in a similar way you do in Facebook, but Google+ has a gimmick that you may know or not. In the graphic above, you’ll see a light gray-blue rectangular box around the names Arsh S and Jenna Levy — I did that by adding a plus symbol (+) before each name while I am writing the article. G+ then populates a pull-down, offering pre-populated names of people I am connected to. I just need to select and go. Sometimes the profile’s privacy setting prohibits the link reference to persist after posting. Linking to people is a good way to engage, inform, and initiate conversation.

Continue reading

August 9, 2011

The big secret to getting people to read your blog

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3108/3150724610_e2b0f585e3_m.jpgChris AbrahamLong blog post short: please be as descriptive as possible when titling your blog posts. In today’s decontextualized world of walls, feeds, RSS, e-mail, diggs, reddits, Stumbles, tweets, and retweets, you need to attract your potential reader based only on the appeal of your title and nothing else, especially if you’re new to blogging and don’t happen to be Seth Godin.

Use up to the 70 characters that Google indexes for each post title but make sure the most important message of the title are nearer the beginning of the title. Don’t bury the lead in the post and don’t bury the lead in the title, either.

Tweetmeme and other sharing services chop off long titles, so while you can go long, keep your essentials right at the beginning.

A good title is a good habit — here’s why

Recently I wrote the post Blog so you can be taken completely out of context in which I discussed how essential it is to make sure each blog post you write needs to be completely self-contained and self-referential. Looking back, I notice I missed the most important part of every blog post: the blog title.

In 2011, with Twitter, Facebook, Google+, retweets, sharing, and RSS via Google Reader, all anyone ever sees is the title of whatever’s shared, especially if you’re not Beth Kanter, Kami Huyse, Seth Godin, CC Chapman, Shel Israel, Geoff Livingston, Richard Laermer, Olivier Blanchard, Christopher Penn, Chris Brogan or Brian Solis. If you’re one of these bloggers, your title is a little less important; however, your name may well be stripped by the confines of a 140-character world, so a good title is a good habit even for our hallowed celebrities since their personal brand doesn’t always move as fast as the share. Continue reading

June 30, 2011

How to become a super-node in the attention era

To turn up in organic search, you need to play three-dimensional chess

Chris AbrahamI try to read through my RSS feeds every day. Today I stumbled upon an article by my friend Christopher S Penn, entitled Social media now directly influences search rankings.

It shows that Google is playing Tri-D chess in a world where most companies are mastering checkers:

If you’re marketing something, there’s now a direct incentive to build your network as large as possible among your prospective customers. Size matters.

Long story short: every search you make on Google returns results that are weighted heavily to favor people in your social network, especially those people and brands to have a lot of friends, likes, and followers.

In other words, you can access top organic search engine results for your company, brand, products and services by really diving into social media marketing and eveloping connections, followers, likes, and lists–getting people to like your brand on Facebook or follow your brand on Twitter hasn’t ever just been about brand awareness, it has also become an essential secret weapon for search engine ranking.

You should read Chris’ article for sure, but I have my own example to show how personally-tailored Google search has become

A few days ago a journalist friend of mine popped me a note to ask me if I knew the Rosetta Stone CEO.  I didn’t, however, he thought I must because my name came up twice when he searched for ‘Rosetta Stone” on Google.

See, I blogged for Rosetta Stone for a while and have used their products for years. When I did the same search, I didn’t show on the first page at all. Online, my friend’s world is heavily colored by me.

I showed up because he and I are connected via LinkedIn, Facebook, Google Talk, Gmail, Twitter, and who knows where else.

His search reality isn’t objective at all.  It is being heavily adjusted by the connections he has and will make to other people and brands online. In real time, immediately, to order, based on dozens of tacit connections.

Google isn’t stupid. I won’t show up in all of his web searches–only those that are relevant to what he wants. However, if I have ever written and published anything online that is, in fact, relevant, there’s an excellent chance I will turn up on page one, possibly even if he’s logged out of Gmail.

With the multitude of social network profiles that I possess and maintain, the nearly five-thousand friends I have on Facebook (including the high-caste of many of my friends), the 38,000 followers I have on Twitter, and my 12-year-old blog, my 2,200 contacts on LinkedIn, 3,400 folks on FourSquare, subscribers on FeedBurner, all my content on YouTube, and others, means that Google generally tries to include me in other people’s searches of the Internet, gaming serendipity to the point that I come up as a few of the search results on such a competed-for search term like Rosetta Stone in the Manhattan offices of one of the top global newspapers.

I chose to use this example because I have invested myself so heavily towards building these connections shamelessly. People wonder why I would engage in promiscuous “follow back” on Twitter and maintain the maximum friends on Facebook? Surely I am not special. I, like anyone else, cannot maintain close friendships in excess of Dunbar’s Number of 150 friends.

I have been doing this for myself, for my company, and for my clients, using myself as the most shameless example to prove the concept that having the “right” friends online, following the few “right” people and brands is not only wrong but dangerous.

Shoot for quantity plus quality followers

The more people you touch via social media and social network connections, the greater the chance that you will turn up as a top result in search results.

Yes, get the right followers, but also get as many followers as possible. In a world where people get their search results based on who their friends are and what they’re looking at or doing, you’re going to want to become connected to as many as humanly possible, possibly indiscriminately but certainly promiscuously. The more people you touch via social media and social network connections, the greater the chance that you will always be a top result whenever they do a search in your general direction.

Sure, my level of social media populism is not for everyone because it does take a lot of work, and pursuing the Cluetrain long tail of everyone can surely scare away some of your elite contacts and friends, which it has done, personally, because I do create a lot of content and “noise” to someone who only has 150 friends on LinkedIn, on MySpace, Friendster, and Twitter. I have surely driven them away and hear, “I had to unfollow you because you were the only person I ever saw on my
Facebook wall.” Fair enough. No worries.

While this example is personal, all of these map across to brand beautifully. I am co-founder and president of Abraham Harrison and Google knows that. It is on my Google Profile (you really need to look at this and set this up and try to get all your employees to set their profiles up as well). Google met me halfway when it came to the profile, too, as it was mostly already sorted out for me when I arrived. I just made sure they didn’t miss anything.

This might all seem like Mickey Mouse child’s play but the net effect is that the experience of daily search for tens of thousands of people online tends towards returning content that I have liked, dugg, retweeted, blogged, stumbled upon, thumbed up, shared, starred, emailed, and recommended, including a mainstream media highest-caste global newspaper journalist, and others. Their search reality is strangely influenced by my Internet behavior. That’s powerful. In the attention data game, I am considered a super-node.

In terms of an SEO strategy, this means–and has meant for a while–that simply nailing your site’s information architecture, naming convention, keyword-rich URLs and titles, content, keywords, ALT tags, and link strategy is not nearly enough.

The new secret weapon for Search Engine Optimization is digital Public Relations and Social Media Marketing.

Even more info on this strategy over on Steve Rubel and SEOmoz. Via Mike Moran’s Biznology blog.

Enhanced by Zemanta