Google’s Matt Cutts Encourages Using Canonical Tag for Publishers with Duplicate Content

In a recent Google Webmaster Help video, Matt Cutts, discusses the use of the canonical tag for duplicate content. He references specifically short-term duplicate content. The example Cutts uses is a news site that would have content surrounding a story that perhaps is breaking news that is being updated constantly as more details emerge surrounding the event. In this instance, there is a legitimate reason for content to be duplicated across several different url’s on the same site.

Cutts suggests using the rel=canonical tag to avoid PageRank being shared across all multiple url’s containing this content. This would consolidate PageRank to one main page so when searchers looking for information surrounding the event would find a preferred page with links to the corresponding stories.

Link Building Strategies for Enterprise Level SEO

While the goal of link building is essentially the same for any business, the ideal strategy changes depending on the market and the size of the business in question. When it comes to SEO for enterprise, you need big results, and that takes big investment. A thousand visitors a day can make or break a small business, but it’s next to nothing for an enterprise.

Link building for enterprise needs to be truly scalable, and that means you need to change your thinking. Here are a few strategies appropriate for the needs of enterprise.

1. Blog Acquisition

Single links, no matter how authoritative, are almost always peanuts for an enterprise level business. The practice of going out and asking for links just isn’t going to make a dent in their already massive authority. Sure, you could set up massive outreach teams and start to get results, but this kind of large scale attention is generally more useful for going back through old content, changing up title tags, and optimizing previous pages for better results.

Rather than asking for links or trickling them in with guest posts, an enterprise level business is going to benefit much more from acquiring entire blogs.

What do I mean by this? Well, take a look at how Susannah Breslin became a Forbes blogger. She was a blogger for True/Slant, which was then acquired by Forbes, and after much persistence, she was accepted as one of the few bloggers for that company that was allowed to become a blogger for Forbes.

Put simply, if a blogger consistently earns natural links, it makes much more sense for an enterprise to just buy the blogger than it does to try to get a guest post on their blog.

I wouldn’t say that Forbes has done it perfectly, though. To really maximize the SEO value, I believe that you should buy not just the blogger, but the entire blog and its accompanying link profile.

In other words, hire the blogger, buy their blog, relocate the content, and redirect each individual page over to your site. Let them run the blog essentially the same way, with just a few pointers, and assurance that you already share similar values before the merger. That way, you capture not just their link profile, but their audience.

Most individual bloggers struggle somewhat with monetization, and those of them that aren’t too stubborn or proud will be happy to sell their blog and their continuing services in exchange for more secure income.

It takes more than just an offer that they can’t refuse, though, if you want to get the best results. Remember that their blog is their baby, and they’ll undoubtedly have some reservations. They’ll want some evidence, preferably in writing, that they will retain a fair amount of control over what they write. Make sure to recognize and address their concerns before they even have a chance to object.

Money is a necessity here, but it’s not an excuse to toss out basic outreach, relationship building, and people skills.

2. Industry Leading Studies

Studies are pretty much always in the news.

Just Google the word “study,” and click on the news results. You’re always going to see millions of results, and while many of them come from universities or government agencies, a fair number of them always come from private businesses, and we’re not just talking about Nielson or ComScore here.

Just as an example, as of this writing (7/7/2013), a company called AppRiver made the news in PC World by releasing a study. The semi-yearly study explains trends in malware and spam, and revealed that one of the latest trends in this world is to hack financial information and then hide the transactions by spamming the victim’s inbox with so much crap that they don’t see the payments being made.

I’ve never heard of AppRiver before, but after just 6 hours, a search for “study AppRiver” over just the past 24 hours turns up 38 results. That’s a lot of linking domains in less than a work day, and it’s testament to the power of industry level studies.

Any enterprise level company, regardless of what industry they’re in, has the resources to conduct some kind of study that is both relevant to their consumers and worthy of making rounds in the news. In fact, as you probably know, most of them are constantly conducting internal statistical studies and experiments for internal use. All it takes is releasing one of these, one with newsworthy appeal, to instantly earn a ton of respect and link equity.

Enterprises that don’t have the internal skillset to conduct such a study can simply sponsor one. The benefits are just as powerful, and they’ll earn massive bonus points from their audience if the study doesn’t “coincidentally” directly promote a product or service of theirs.

Finally, if you can present the results in a visually appealing, easy to understand, and actionable way, the results will be magnified tenfold. It doesn’t have to be an infographic, but it should look appealing, digestible, and worth sharing. Design is an important part of the results, regardless.

3. World Class Tools

I feel like I’m on repeat with this, but this has flown so far underneath the SEO radar that I don’t think I have any other choice. Let me just say this:

link building

Just look at every single mega-successful site on the web and you will see that they’re all built around a tool. Google, Facebook, Blogger, WordPress, Twitter, Wikipedia, YouTube: these sites earn more links before breakfast than most SEOs will earn in their lifetime.

This is the nature of tools. They give people something to do. They give people experiences. People care about experiences and feel they’re worth sharing. And so they link.

The same can only be said of content in special circumstances. NYtimes.com is an order of magnitude behind Facebook in number of linking domains. That means something.

The success of these tools is multiplied even further by the fact that most of them also help people create and share things that came from their own mind. They encourage user generated content and communities, and the result is pure gold.

4. Celebrity Content

Remember how, back in point 1, we said “if a blogger consistently earns natural links, it makes much more sense for an enterprise to just buy the blogger than it does to try to get a guest post on their blog.” Well, that applies here too.

Look no further than LinkedIn’s introduction of the Influencers channel. In the first quarter of 2013, LinkedIn visitors viewed 63 percent more pages than in the same quarter of 2012. More importantly, traffic on the news products grew by a staggering 800 percent. The top posts regularly bring in 100,000 views. They owe this popularity to blog posts by people like Bill Gates, Richard Branson, and even President Obama.

In LinkedIn’s case, the influencers are doing it purely for the exposure on LinkedIn’s already relatively popular site, but there’s no reason the process couldn’t be accelerated and multiplied by financial compensation.

The New York Times has recognized the power of these kinds of posts, and has hired people like Paul Krugman to write for them. Ditto for Huffington Post, with posts by people like Kirk Douglass and Jamie Lee Curtis. Celebrities don’t need to come from Hollywood, they just need to bring clout and authority to the blog. They attract the kind of attention that produces enormous, purely natural link profiles.

Conclusion

SEO for enterprise is an entirely different beast. While many of the fundamentals are the same, you have to think big to win results that enterprises can actually say they care about. That means taking a page from the most successful site on the web. Dominate with tools, mergers, celebrities, and studies. The key is to be newsworthy.

How have you approached enterprise level SEO?

Top 7 SEO Tactics in a Post-Penguin 2.0 Era

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Being the top dog in the search engine realm, Google has the luxury of essentially dictating the state of the SEO industry. Whenever they decide to tweak their algorithm via updates like Panda, Penguin and Penguin 2.0, this heavily impacts which tactics are effective and which ones become defunct. To achieve favorable rankings and maintain them, it’s more important than ever to build your SEO strategy according to what Google wants in today’s post-Penguin 2.0 era. Here’s what’s working in 2013.

1. Create and Publish Awesome Content

Perhaps the best way to future-proof your rankings is by creating valuable content, and publishing that content to your website regularly. A few years ago, cheap tactics like article spinning, duplicate content and keyword stuffing could make a site rise to the top of the rankings. Now, these are considered black hat tactics that often lead to websites getting penalized. Emphasizing quality, and originality should put you on the right track and help maintain solid rankings, regardless of Google’s next move.

2. Cater to the Mobile Crowd

It should come as no surprise that smartphones and tablets are huge these days. A report from Marketing Land stated that “nearly 40 percent of Internet time is now being spent on mobile devices.” Understanding and basing your SEO efforts around this trend is important in 2013 and is likely to be a necessity in the coming years. One way to accommodate mobile users is to keep your website’s layout simple, and not overload it with excessive content.

Utilizing responsive web design is an ideal way to ensure a great experience on a variety of mobile devices as well as PCs, because it makes content easily viewable regardless of the screen size. Testing your site across a few devices should also help point out any issues that need to addressed.

3. Avoid Link Spam

Another strategy that worked not long ago but can now wreak havoc on your rankings is black-hat link building. Anything created solely for the purpose of acquiring a link is likely to be seen as spam and can end up hurting your rankings. That’s why it’s so important to clean up your backlinks by removing anything that could be deemed as spam.

4. Maintain Proper Sitemaps

Making it as simple as possible for search engines to index your content is crucial. Installing a sitemap is an excellent way to streamline this process, because it acts as a shortcut for indexing, allowing search engines to more quickly and easily find and index your content.

5. Use Safe Anchor Text

Not too long ago, it was popular to use exact-match anchor text for backlinks. This tactic worked, but it was an easy way for Google to identify unnaturally-obtained links. Google now sees this practice as a way to manipulate the rankings. Consequently, many sites have been penalized for an excessive amount of exact-match anchor text, which must now be avoided. Instead, diversify your anchor text so that it looks natural.

6. Publish Across a Variety of Media

While traditional text-based content still has value, integrating other forms of media like images, videos and audio can be helpful. Since you can add filenames and alt tags, this provides search engines with even more information to properly index content. Besides this, a variety of media should enhance the reader experience and increase the likelihood that content gets shared. Whether it’s a blog post or an email newsletter, peppering in one or more additional forms of media should provide a boost.

7. Engage in Social Sharing

People share the content they love through social media. Due to the massive volume of users on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc., it’s a convenient way for people to spread news and ideas. Capitalizing on this trend by installing social share buttons to your site can mean substantial exposure while improving search results at the same time.

By making it quick and easy for people to share your content on their favorite network, this can help it circulate over the web, reaching new audiences. Since Google’s entire aim is to provide its users with valuable and relevant content, the number of social shares that content receives is a terrific benchmark for quality and usefulness. For instance, a blog post that receives thousands of shares means that plenty of people find it entertaining or useful. Consequently, the more social shares you receive, the better odds you have of climbing the rankings.


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Welcome to the New World of ASO (App Store Optimization)

App SEOThe mobile landscape is constantly evolving, and for people who are in the web marketing business, change means new opportunities. Those accustomed to traditional SEO methods have found adapting to the new environment is both exciting and confounding.

The Big Questions in Today’s New Environment Include:

  • What are the best ways to market apps in a pluralistic environment?
  • How do I drive social media recommendations for apps?
  • What are the most effective methods of driving subscribers and downloads?

Marketing From the Left and the Right

Sometimes the left hand forgets that the right hand is there. A holistic approach to app marketing, which includes both app store searches and mobile referrals, and web-based SEO, has been gaining ground as people see that employing only one tactic may not reach the tipping point of effectiveness.

Take simple, straightforward ASO, for example — the process known as App Store Optimization. This process leans heavily (in fact, almost entirely) on keyword title searches. This means that, as companies warm to the usefulness of ASO, the effectiveness of those keywords will be neutralized by over-use. This process creates overly-competitive keywords.

For many, this moment is close at hand. The numbers don’t lie, and they’re increasing rapidly (by a factor of three over a 2.5-month period). As more apps apply the ASO strategy, its effectiveness drops sharply, and that doesn’t do anybody any good.

App Discovery on Fire

The mechanics currently being employed in the business of app discovery are primitive. Like all primitive tools, they will evolve into something more complex over time, especially as an already hyper-effective search engine like Google begins to consider its role in app searching within the app store. Google would have the groundwork in place to apply a more broad variety of elements into its ASO: factors like revenue, content analysis, reviews, purchases within apps, and more.

Many see this kind of expansion in sophistication of ASO as the next logical step in the app marketplace evolution. In the meantime, however, the need for a comprehensive strategy that will keep businesses competitive is paramount. Because SEO is a constantly changing marketing strategy, it continues to offer the most potential for marketing success, and while SEO is still web-based, and can’t be applied to in-store app purchases, that doesn’t mean it isn’t still a useful, if overlooked, tool.

The Search for Real Value

The truth is, for user quality, finding apps via online search online beats all the competition. It leaves paid channels in the dust, and even out-performs social media. Given that this is true, it’s also true that search constitutes only 4 percent of app installs by volume. That’s 5.5 times less than social media. The disparity here is vast, and represents an under-utilized area of opportunity for the marketing community.

Even though SEO and ASO are vastly different creatures at the moment, the user quality offered by search means that SEO can work just as hard as ASO for app conversions. If properly applied to app-focused searching, SEO holds more potential than a battle over simple ASO keyword implementation might suggest.

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Pixsooz

Do it or Die: 7 Core Inclusions In Your SEO Efforts You Cannot Do Without

SEO-Core-InclusionsIf the pace of change in search marketing were anything to get used to, you’d need super adaptability skills. One look at the history of Google’s updates — thanks to this helpful page on SEOmoz, — to its search algorithm would leave your head in a state of blur.

Google is busy trying to clean up the web – all in the quest to deliver quality pages and just the right kind of information for users when they do “search-happy”.

For marketers, SEO specialists, and business owners, the search scene presents tremendous opportunity but it’s no bed of roses. It’s time to take stock of your SEO practices and skew towards best practices.

Here’s how you can do it:

Take Stock of the New Basics

Cyrus Shepard helpfully listed a behemoth of a post to rank better with a 25 Step SEO Blueprint and it’s a great read to take stock of what works. It’s not conclusive or exhaustive, of course.

Google has put the world of SEO into a virtual spin. Hands-free, Conversational Search is coming soon. Matt Cutts recently announced changes that are about to affect domain clustering. The changes will continue to come in like a landslide. The first step is to refresh your basics but with care since most of what you read would have changed.

The old guides you downloaded will have outdated information. Stay on top of SEO information like its religion.

SEO Can’t Work in a Silo

SEO is not a separate thing for marketers to do. SEO goes hand-in-hand with content production, for instance.  SEO is an integrated part of content marketing and it has to be treated as such.

You can’t work on SEO as if it has nothing to do with content, social media, and with the other forms of marketing you might use. Include SEO as a part of your overall marketing strategy. Make it a part of your arsenal as a trusted source of traffic and conversions and not as a marketing channel that you’d get to someday.

  • Tie in your SEO with content marketing.
  • Add Title tags, Meta tags, attributes, sitemaps, Robots Txt, Alt text, and all of these basics –- whether they work today or not –- into the content as you develop it or as you plan to make a website ready for promotion.
  • Find images and add alt text for every image.
  • Find a way to include keywords into your website but understand that keywords aren’t everything.
  • Develop awesome content first and weave your keywords in later.

Link Building Has a New Meaning

If a link were pointing to your web property, it’d be a good link. That was how it was when the web was born. Today, pointing links inwards (or getting others to point links) to your website is a herculean task – one that most marketers work around the clock to achieve. Google algorithms are in a constant state of flux but the importance attributed to organic links from popular websites pointing towards your own is still a viable strategy.

Article marketing is out; guest posting is in. Blogger outreach programs are now more common than ever. Further, the importance of developing valuable content to gain organic and automatic link building is the new way. Link building, hence, isn’t just about “seeding” links all over the web; it’s now more organized, planned, and executed.

Follow guides such as Link Building for SEO and follow Interviews such as Neil Patel’s Interview with Jayson DeMers at Search Engine Watch.

The point is this: link building is mutual in nature. But this reciprocation happens due to perceived value of your content. The better your content is, and the more it influences, helps, and leads, the more it gets shared and then linked to.

Developing Content Like Publishers Should

While developing content, find ways to add more value and reach for all of your content assets. Pour passion, humor, controversy, explanations, detailed posts, screen casts, videos, podcasts, slide decks, and even publish your own magazines.

The key is to branch out into as many content asset types as possible to leverage the reach of your content. No amount of publishing is enough.  Having said that, generating “any random content” won’t do. The benchmark for good content is already on the rise and the days of writing-anything-that-looks-like-an-article-to-get-Google’s-attention are gone.

1). Flipboard now allows you to read and curate content as you go, right from your smartphone or from tablets. Now, you can build content even as you read and consume content.

2). Sliderocket.com recently added highly-interactive, professional looking templates for eBooks, Online Webinars, marketing plans, pitches, and even resumes. Take your pick from those and start creating even more content.

3). If you own a Mac, Apple’s Pages and iBooks Author already have great templates to help you develop more assets for publishing. Create your own content with the help of these tools. No coding required.

4). Create infographics using hired resources or any of the following tools if you’d like to do it yourself:

5). Use Tagxedo to convert any random pieces of text, quotes, or your own thoughts into word clouds. You can customize fonts, save images for printing or sharing, and much more content to pass along.

Relentless value publishing is the key. Are you up for it?

Put “You” In your Content

Today, you cannot hide behind a website. Readers (and customers) connect better when they know the faces and the real people behind businesses.

Jason Nazar of DocStoc puts himself in his videos. He is the face of his own company.  He also maintains his own blog where he dispenses advice for entrepreneurs. He also helps a community of entrepreneurs to startup at Startups Uncencored. Seth Godin maintains a popular blog, writes books, runs his own Podcasts, and shows up physically at events.

Include you or your team into your content. Put your game face on, pull out those names, put your name where your reputation is, and expose yourself.

That way, you let the customers know that you are real, that you mean what you say and also all that passion for your business will show on you.

Social Signals are catching up: Where are you?

Google+ is almost integrated into Google’s search ecosystem and it’s the default set up for years to come. It heralds a new addition to the overall search results where “social conversations” will now be an integral part of search results.

Mark Traphagen of Windmill Networking wrote an intriguing post on how Google Plus Turns out to be Bigger and Powerful than you Know where he carefully tries to reiterate his understanding of Google+ and how it affects your SEO efforts.

There’s no dearth of expert advice on how to use Google+ to boost your SEO efforts, though.  Kristi Hines – an expert freelance writer – recommends getting more followers, setting up Google Authorship, connect your website to your Google+ page, fill up your profile, and encourage some +1 love.

Cyrus Shepard has his own set of recommendations on his post at SEOmoz: follow your own profile links, use links and operators such as “+ Name” or “+ Company Name” generously, optimize your G+ tags, and always connect with influencers.

Similarly, social signals off Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are fast catching up.  Get on social media to influence the search engines too.

Get to the Press

There’s a reason why Press coverage still matters. On the web, press coverage has massive potential upside to your SEO efforts. That explains the reason why Chris Winfield at SEOmoz took the trouble to list of 92 Ways to Get (and maximize) Press Coverage.

It’s easier to get press coverage when you are a startup than it is when you are a larger company. Further, according to Jason Nazar in his Startups Censored #25 Event, you’ll need to develop relationships with people and prove yourself before hoping to get mentioned in popular blogs, and in niche-based (or general) news coverage.

Work the phones, hustle, build your media list, subscribe to HARO (now owned by Vocus), and grow your relationships.

So, what’s it going to be for you? Do or Die? What are you doing today to boost your SEO efforts?

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Mopic

How to Compete with the Big Brands for SEO Rankings

Big Brands and SEOIf you’re a smaller business and competing in an industry with big brands that perpetually dominate the search results, it can be tough. At times, you probably get frustrated and simply feel like you’ve been run over. No matter what you do, you feel like you can’t break through to gain the recognition you deserve.

Google has a reputation for preferring the big boys, and their brands seem to always appear at the top of the search results. It makes some sense, though. These are trusted brands that many customers as well as the search engines feel confident about.

So what can you do?

Plenty, actually. You’re not alone, and you DO stand a chance of winning some games in the big leagues. You just have to adjust your way of thinking and use the right tools. Here are a few ways that you can improve your playing strategy.

Focus on Branding

Stop spending so much time trying to research keywords and rank specifically for them. That’s always going to be a part of SEO, but we’re talking about stepping onto a much broader playing field—one whose boundaries don’t stay within the realm of SEO.

Get Visual

The way you convey your brand through visuals is important. It’s the first thing that registers in peoples’ minds. Before they read a single sentence, the colors and the overall feel of your logo and website have already made a statement.

Your logo should represent what you stand for. The color scheme should do the same. Your color scheme plays a big role in your branding. I’m sure you are aware that certain colors tend to evoke certain emotions. Did you know that there are also good color combinations and bad ones? Here are a few sources to help you out with that:

This doesn’t have to be an expensive proposition. It’s easy to find freelance designers who are very affordable. Once your designs, colors, and logo are ready to go, it’s time to bring in the copywriter. At this stage, you have to develop an original, catchy set of slogans, taglines, and other messages.

Brand Keywords & Steering Clear of Extremely Competitive Keywords

Let’s say that you run a store for dog toys. Instead of focusing all your content, titles, and keywords around “dog leashes” and “puppy chew toys,” switch to more brand-related keywords. If your store’s name is Zippy’s, for example, then use “Zippy’s dog leash sale” and the like.

Of course, you still want to include some generic keywords that people often search for; but don’t try to compete with PetCo and other big brands for the most common and obvious one- or two-word phrases. Instead, shoot for long-tail keywords. You’ll stand a much better chance at ranking for them.

Be Persistent

Branding is about consistency and making sure that consumers think of you when they need your product or service. At the very first glance, they should recognize that an ad, a sale, or even an email is yours. Everything that you do should reflect your brand. Anything you do on social media should include it—your emails, your ads, your website. Everything.

Get Local

If you’re a business that serves your local area, then you need to be concerned about and use local SEO to your advantage. If you do it right, you can generate an extensive amount of business.

Big brands might dominate most of the top search results. But in many cases, Google will place local results at the top for a lot of searches that people perform. Local, dedicated server hosting is one way to match what the big brands are doing if you want to compete for local search results. An entire book could be written around local SEO, so it would be a bit much to try to cover it all here. However, this guide to local SEO will get you geared up and ready to go.

Find Your USP & Get Creative

One of the best things you can do is to sit down and figure out what makes you different from the big boys. What do you have to offer that they don’t? That’s your unique selling point (USP), and it’s something that can set you apart and reward you with loyal customers.

Once you know what your USP is, get creative about letting people know about it. I actually found out about a company called Dollar Shave Club while reading a blog on branding. This company nailed it, and they figured out how to let the world know! Just check out their video below:

Sure, Dollar Shave is competing with some very huge companies and brands. But they deliver what seems to be an amazing service, with a high-quality product that those big companies don’t have. They found their USP and they definitely got creative; they weren’t afraid to step outside the box. This video was uploaded merely a year ago and has received more than 9 MILLION views.

Don’t Forget Social Media

Social media can be a powerful tool for smaller businesses. It gives you the chance to do many things. You can put yourself on an almost-level playing field here: engage customers, run contests, and get attention just like anyone else.

One place in particular that will probably become a powerhouse for local businesses is Facebook Graph Search. If you aren’t active on Facebook, now is the time to start!

Image Credit: Shutterstock / iQoncept