Tag Archives: Search engine optimization

IP Backbone, Server Location, Distance Delay, and Romancing Your Hardware

 

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You’ll note that on the front-page of the Superb.net site, we mention our “coast-to-coast IP backbone.” We mention this prominently because we know how crucial IP location can be to the success of the websites using our services. Let’s look at why.

IP addresses identify a machine accessing the Internet. For an end-user, it is associated with the device with which the person (well, or bot, such as Google’s crawlers) is accessing your site. It can refer to a PC, for instance, or a router for a network, or even a mobile device. In hosting, it refers to the server that is delivering the data, that is answering the request from a user and responding with the page and/or content the person is trying to access.

This article will gather and distill information on IP addresses (or Internet Protocol addresses) so we can better understand how they relate to hosting and the Web generally. Having a strong IP presence can be crucial to delivering the Web quickly and efficiently to anyone visiting your site – and to accessing the network yourself for administration, internal usage, and interaction with your clients.

Specifically, the physical location of a server can cause distance delay, latency related to how long it is taking for the request to be received, processed by the server, and fulfilled to the end-user. Minimizing distance delay, means choosing a host that has servers near your primary clientele. Search engine optimization can also be affected because Google takes into account the location of an IP address in SEO rankings.

For this article, I referenced pieces from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Web SEO Analytics, Binary Turf, Service Assurance Daily, and About.com.

How to keep your server happy #1: Never just think of your server as “my server.” Call it by name – by its IP address (or its host name, but that seems unnecessarily complicated). The server has a unique identity, and it wants you to treat it that way. An unhappy server is a server that feels anonymous, like it could be any server. Never forget your server’s IP or, for that matter, your anniversaries with the server. Bring it out to dinner. Treat it right. Put stickers on it that say “#1” and “Champion” and “I Love You.”

IP Addresses & Host Names

There are two basic ways to refer to any server: IP address and host name.

  • What’s an IP? It’s a series of numbers divided into four sections by dots (that’s periods, for those of you who haven’t been exposed to the hip new web lingo). The first section or first two sections of numbers designate(s) the network of the device. For example, one of Google’s IP addresses is 74.125.224.72.
  • What’s a host name? Thanks for asking. Instead of numbers, a host name is the name of the device, followed by your domain name. So perhaps you have a server called worldsbestserver.schoolofhardknocks.edu.

The Domain Name Service (DNS) turns host names into IP addresses and IP addresses into host names. For instance, when you request a certain URL, it switches the URL to the IP so it knows what server to access to fulfill your data request.

You may be able to pull up Google, with the IP mentioned above, directly by going to http://74.125.224.72/ (skipping the DNS server and going straight to the server itself), but that will only work for certain locations, based on the location of your IP address. Entering an IP to access a page can work because the IP and the URL are essentially one and the same: they both refer to a machine on which data is originating and being received from other web-connected devices.

How to keep your server happy #2: Tell your server that you want to grow old with it. Tell it you’ll never perform brain surgery on it to improve its performance. Your server wants you to know that it has feelings, just like people do. If your server looks bored, give it something to do. It doesn’t matter what the task is. Your server just wants to process data all day and all night. It also likes to knit and to hear Kenny Chesney blasted through the speakers of a boom-box you bought at a yard sale.

Specifics on the IP Address

All devices that can connect to the web – cell phones, computers, tablets, servers, whatever – have an IP address. This address is made up of four numbers separated by dots, as stated above. Each of those numbers ranges from 0 to 255.

Let’s look at specifics for MIT as described in that article. One of the servers at MIT is 18.72.0.3. Either the first two parts or the first part of the IP can refer to the network, as discussed above. In the case of MIT, it’s just the first part. The 18, then, signifies the MIT network. The rest of the IP address points to a specific computer or server within the MIT network. It’s similar, in a way, to subdomains of sites (don’t think about that too much – just talking about the main part and sectioning part here, folks).

You might notice that these numbers range from 0 to 255 – which at first seems kind of arbitrary. Actually, though, 256 (the possible number of options including the zero) is 8 cubed. The IP system, then, is compiled of four 8-bit binary numbers (each of them referred to as an octet). The entirety is a 32-bit binary number.

How to keep your server happy #3: Your server does not enjoy it when you surround yourself with other servers. This makes the server extremely jealous. If you must use other servers for your business, sit down with your server beforehand and explain to it the principles of change and growth and how important they are to success. Your server may complain, but it will understand – because above all, it loves and supports you.

Server Location & SEO

People often make the mistake of thinking that the virtual environment of the Internet is cleanly separated from physical reality: sure, servers populate all the information, but as long as the servers are functional and fast, everything else is in the content. This, however, is not the case. Google and Bing both use geographical location of the device answering requests for your site (your server) to determine your rankings.

The location of the server is especially important if your TLD does not designate your country/region and if you do not activate Geographic Targeting within your Google Webmaster account. Example TLDs that do not specify location are .com and .net.

Web SEO Analytics mentions their extraordinarily high SEO presence for Romania-related searches and generally for searches conducted from Romanian IP addresses. This presence is exemplary of the power of where a server is positioned on the globe, because that’s the nation where the WSA servers are located.

How to keep your server happy #3: Never give it a bath. Baths are terrible for servers. They hate water. Plus, if you threaten to give your server a bath, it will cry. Servers hate crying more than anything else, with the notable exception of sneezing.

Location & Faster Page Loads

You are probably aware that latency – defined as delay within a system, in this case the Internet – is a major factor in keeping your audience happy. You may also be aware that latency or page load times affect your SEO as well. Latency will be affected by where your servers are located – so this aspect of performance represents not just speed, but a secondary impact on your SEO rankings.

The importance of an IP backbone that is closely integrated with your clients’ locations is that you can answer requests quickly because you’re nearby. The difference between load times throughout a single home country will be minimal and for the most part unnoticeable. However, if servers are located on the other side of the Earth, you can quickly run into latency issues.

Why does latency matter, again? Well, really it’s because of UX. Google and Bing will thank sites that quickly load pages for visitors because it represents a better user experience, a better effort to quickly dispense information to those requesting it. Plus, UX relates directly to customer satisfaction. If your latency is high, customers will become discouraged and go elsewhere.

How to keep your server happy #4: Take it on a vacation. Many owners and leasers of servers never consider taking the server out to a place it’s never been before. There’s nothing like running your fingers through your server’s hair on a beach in the Virgin Isles. Ah, can’t you smell that salt air now? Your server enjoys wearing tight-fitting sunbathing outfits but does not like to scuba dive or snorkel. Go underwater yourself, and tell it what you saw. Oh, and no sunscreen for your server, except on its nose.

Types of Latency

Latency is a complex topic. There are actually a number of different factors that will slow down the flow of information on the web. Latency on a network is broken up into the following five components:

  • Distance delay
  • Serialization delay
  • Queue delay
  • Forwarding delay
  • Protocol delay

As you can see, there are many aspects of the web that can impede your ability to quickly deliver quality content and information to your visitors. Location of your servers is a simple way to improve the latency and keep your customers’ UX as fast and relaxing as possible. It is probably obvious that distance delay is the form of latency we can address with geographical location.

Distance delay, according to Service Assurance Daily, is the delay caused by the distance between the two machines that are communicating on the web (typically the user device and your server). This type of latency can majorly impact the performance of applications that have to interact numerous times with your server, each time creating hindrances to your network’s ability to interact quickly and smoothly with all users.

How to keep your server happy #5: Give it everything it ever requests. Many servers are needy. You have two possible responses to server neediness: give it everything it asks for, or complain and debate with it to determine if what it’s requesting is really required. Trust me: it’s easier to just give the server everything you own. It’s more efficient that way, and the last thing you want is a vindictive court battle with a machine.

Summary & Conclusion

Server location is simple really, which is why it’s not hard for Superb Internet to know we need an IP backbone: the backbone both makes it easy for you to access us and for your customers to access your site. Remember, your SEO from server location is one thing. Latency, though, in the form of distance delay, will also affect SEO and can greatly enhance all users’ experiences on your site. Plus, you yourself will experience decreased latency if your servers are nearby.

by Kent Roberts and Richard Norwood

Can’t Stand WordPress Popup Plugins

Ever visited a website, only to find you’re having to jump hoops, go to advertising jail and don’t pass go? Or how about something even worse,  sign-up and sign-in before you can read the real meat of the site? I’m sure you’ve come across these fatal flaws as Chris Lema goes on to describe:

Why I can’t stand WordPress Popup Plugins

Why I can't stand WordPress Popup Plugins | How to Grow Your Business Online | Scoop.it

From chrislema.com – April 4, 3:32 AM

If you’re using a WordPress popup plugin, I don’t hate you. But I do hate the plugin. And I may not spend much time on your site. Oh, and I won’t sign up.

Additionally your navigation under the weight of JavaScript plugins, is probably severely handicapped with lower site speeds. I.e.,  re-loading libraries of pop-up code junks up your cache memory.

 

3 Ways Your Website is Losing Readers

3 Ways Your Website is Losing Readers | How to Grow Your Business Online | Scoop.itFrom www.copyblogger.com – 

The last time you got into your car, did you notice if your wheels were properly aligned? My guess is that 99.99% of you didn’t even consider it.

Juliana Payson‘s insight:

As a consumer, how many times have you been turned off a site simply because you couldn’t get to the page you wanted within the 7 second timeframe of a short term memory goldfish? Milliseconds count. One way to test your site speed on every page and determine load time problems is to download a copy of Screaming Frog, SEO spider. It will give you the lowdown on all your indexed pages and how comparable their respective load time is.

Finally for a bit of lighthearted relief, I found this article from Kate Toon, SEO Copywriter to save you a boat-load of time with email unsubscribes. You know, the really dreaded ones that require you also login, with a password you forgot to unsubscribe.

Email unsubscribes: My top nine tactics | Kate Toon Copywriter

Email unsubscribes: My top nine tactics | Kate Toon Copywriter | How to Grow Your Business Online | Scoop.it

From www.katetooncopywriter.com.au– Today, 3:24 AM

Have you every experienced an unsubscribe process so convoluted and annoying it makes you want to strangle a kitten? Kate Toon has, read her top nine.

Juliana Payson‘s insight:

How much time do you waste each day clearing spam out of your junk mail folder.

Not even true spam but more the kind of notification, newsletter, and social network type of spam. Whilst her suggestions are all something I can relate to, I have another method that works pretty well but only with my Google Mail. “Other In Box” as an unsubscribe folder, I can simply move stuff I never want to see again into it, and it will automatically remove me from the subscription service. The only thing it doesn’t work for is Facebook notifications which obviously have to be manually set-up and occasionally it traps too wide a berth of my incoming mail.

Do you have any workarounds for speeding up and sorting through your content reading of the day? –  Juliana

 

 

Your Highest Converting Hosting Keywords Result in Fraud

Have you ever found a keyword converting so well that it makes your mouth water? One so juicy that you tell your boss about it, hoping for a pat on the back? Well, I found this keyword, only to discover that I am converting scammers, fraudsters and cheaters! What is this keyword that all hosting CEOs are going to ask their PPC Specialists to avoid?

Ok, now that I made you wait, that keyword is… “Instant VPS”. If you do not know what VPS is, please read What is VPS Hosting before you continue.

But not just Instant VPS, anything associated with it: Instant Windows VPS, Instant Virtual Private Hosting, VPS Hosting Fast Setup, and Instant VPS Hosting, etc. etc.

 

 

As illustrated above, “VPS Instant Activation” converts at 50%, “Instant Windows VPS” at 33%, “VPS Instant Setup”, 16.67% and “+VPS +Instant” (my favorite) converted 14 times at 11.11%!

For those that do not know how to get this data, please see my detailed instructions below on how to find exact match keyword conversion data from AdWords.

Although in my head I was imagining buying my first yacht, my gut told me this data was unrealistic. I should have listened to my instincts, but instead, I “liked” the idea of converting at an average rate of 13%. Who wouldn’t?! Well, after a couple months converting between 450%, my billing department told me they were having an increasing fraudulent signup problem.

Yes, fraudulent signups in hosting is not big news, but this time it was escalating.

At first I figured it wasn’t me – someone else caused it or perhaps it was even affiliate fraud. I don’t screw up: I studied Economics! That feeling faded within two or three hours of me getting knee-deep in data.

How did I know that the “Instant” keyword resulted in fraud orders?

When I took the conversion unique identifier from Google Analytics’s ecommerce tracking and matched it with the orders in our database, what I found was shocking: orders converted via “Instant VPS” turned out to be causing the chargebacks. Moreover, when I investigated my Per Visit Value within Google Analytics, I noticed something abnormal. I was getting $8-$200 per click in revenue from “Instant VPS” keywords. Who wouldn’t enjoy getting $8-$200 of revenue per visit for a product that has an average CPC of $8.This means that we would get $8-$200 per month for the life of the account. The average lifetime customer value is $300-$2000! Starting to make sense? It’s printing money, if it was true. What did I learn? Always trust your gut.

 

 

(If you would like detailed instructions about how I got this data, check the end of the post)

Before I was 100% sure that a keyword I was targeting was increasing fraudulent orders, I needed to figure out if anything else was stoking the fire. Could a poorly defined cancellation policy for our 30Day Money Back Guarantee have caused the problem? Or perhaps it was outdated fraud detection?

Since paying $1.50 per transaction to get the latest fraud protection was not sustainable, we implemented a simple policy call every client. This served multiple purposes, for not only could it improve customer service and satisfaction, it had the potential to stop fraud.

That was the tipping point that confirmed “Instant VPS” was causing the fraud. This is because 90% of the calls made to “Instant VPS” signups resulted in speaking to a little old lady who didn’t know what the heck I was talking about. Explaining VPS to everyday business owners is one thing. Clarifying what a VPS hosting solution does to a 50 year old lady that just got home from a doctor’s appointment is overwhelming.

So I began using negative keywords for Instant Setup, as well as 3D Secure. For online marketers that do not know what 3D Secure is, it is the Verified by VISA protocol developed by VISA to provide an extra layer of security. After the credit card details are entered, the customer is redirected to their bank to answer predefined questions about their identity. I must concede that as someone that cares deeply about conversion rates, I did fight this. Finally, after a month of negative keywords and 3D Secure, our billing department wasn’t approving fraudulent orders and our company saw a significant decline in chargebacks from VPS.

Why share this information with the public?

Maybe it was the angel sitting on my shoulder saying, “you should spread the word that these keywords result in fraudulent conversions.” Or, was it the devil on the other shoulder saying, “you should write a post explaining how well the keywords convert and other hosting companies will spend their entire budget on “Instant VPS”. Then you can then get a higher ROI on other keywords.” In the end, it was neither. I spent two months of my life dealing with scoundrels, scammers and spammers. I just wanted revenge.

Why do scammers target Instant VPS?

VPS hosting traditionally has a high fraud rate. This is because some bad customers signup for a VPS with the sole intent to use it to spam, host malware, or for botnet controllers. In fact, around 30% of all VPS orders are in fact fraud. When you add “Instant VPS” you’re looking at a fraud rate of 50%.

These creeps love the fact that they can go from one company to another using different stolen credit cards to get free service and run their scams. They do not talk to their victims on the phone like I do. These are real people. These are people living on Social Security. These are your parents. It’s sick. The hosting company, in order to protect IPs and their network, will eventually find these mischief-makers and shut them down. This is another reason why it is paramount to have an abuse team.

After the account is suspended, the hosting company gets a chargeback and the person they stole the card from doesn’t pay a dime. Everyone wins but the hosting company. That’s how the spammers think. It’s not always the case. Some of the older people go months without knowing.

What’s worse is that it can be like WhackaMole. You shut them down, but they have 30 other credit cards and fake identities ready. They won’t even move to another hosting company. They will just continue scamming you until you wise up.

Again, make sure you have an abuse department. As you now see, it’s even the marketing department’s responsibility to cross-reference campaigns with cancellations. If you do this, you should see some red flags. I did.

More keywords that cause fraud

If you sell Dedicated Servers, VPS, Cloud or Web Hosting, you should also be aware of other keywords that lead to fraud orders. Do your homework and determine how your conversions are billing. Ask questions like:

● What is the average lifetime value for the keywords you are using?

● Are the customers coming in from specific keywords ending up as chargebacks?

● What is the average value of a customer for the keywords you are using? (Hint, go to Google Analytics for that.)

(I would love to tell you about “good” keywords that convert really well, but my boss would kill me

for sharing.) Tweet this article or find me on Facebook and I will tell you more.

How do I fight fraudulent signups?

(Spamhaus.org was vital in helping me put this together.)

Stop Instant Setup

Some will argue that people want instant gratification. They do not want to wait for a 24 hour setup. Therefore, a keyword like “Instant Setup” should convert well. I feel, however, there is a high probability those people actively searching for “Instant Setup” have a corrupt motive behind their purchase. Sure, you may leave some conversions on the table. Why invite the scammers in the door? Not all hosting companies have a sophisticated abuse department, especially if you’re a reseller. I would suggest not letting the thieves even have a chance to see your hand. Once they are in the door, you’re going to start getting calls from your merchant account threatening to increase rates.

3D Secure

As much as I would like to fight 3DSecure because it has a reputation of hurting conversions, I must concede that 3DSecure did have a positive impact fighting my fraudulent signups; they also took a large portion of the chargeback liability off our shoulders. Therefore, I recommend it if you’re already having a chargeback and fraudulent signup problem. Now, I did see my conversion rate decline. Instead of complaining that my billing department was killing my conversion rates, I researched ways to optimizing for higher conversion rates. Ok, I cannot lie. I complained. In fact, I still take a jab every now and then.

Confirm Identity

At Superb Internet, we require all customers to chat or talk to our staff. This improves customer service as well as helping identify likely spammers. We also require everyone to pass a phone verification that tells our system that the person ordering has provided us with a real phone number.

Blacklist Abusive Customers

It is very important to have a database full of blacklisted IPs, Names, Addresses, Phone Numbers, and Emails. Without this list, I am afraid you shouldn’t be selling hosting as you will be scammed 24/7.

Terms of Service and Strong Chargeback Return Policy

If you have a 10, 20 or 30Day Money Back Guarantee, be sure to explain it clearly. Don’t make it hard to cancel the service this is bad business and may actually keep you from getting a good customer. Also, your TOS needs to be clearly defined and easy to understand. I know. I get it. Everyone wants to be an attorney and make a fancy sounding Terms-of-Service. The only thing you are doing with this is hurting your brand, as there will be loud complaints in forums all over the Internet with YOUR company name.

Monitor Your Network

If you don’t ensure that your customers are not abusing your network, you may find yourself out of business. Spamhaus.org gives a good example of this in their article How Hosting Providers Can Battle Fraudulent Signups.

In it, they say, “spammers and malware hosts frequently use a VPN to forward traffic from their permanent, backend locations on your server to botnet or snowshoe spam cannons or web proxies on a compromised server. They use stolen personal data obtained from an infected computer, or even the computer itself, to sign up.” The key is to monitor your network to see if there are traffic connections or relationships with known blackhat VPN nodes. This can detect abusers faster and will decrease chargebacks.

Use Customer IP Address Verification and Spamhaus DROP/EDROP to Filter Bad Traffic

Make sure you are checking the IPs against many blocklists. Be sure to read Spamhaus for more information about this. I also encourage hosting companies to use Spamhaus DROP/EDROP to filter bad traffic. Make sure the problem doesn’t come back by denying all traffic from or to those listed IP addresses.

Spamhaus DROP list:

● Spamhaus EDROP list:

● Spamhaus DROP/EDROP listing policy:

● Spamhaus BGP feed (BGPf):

More advice from Spamhaus.org

Spamhaus.org has more advice for stopping fraud orders. For example, limiting your customers to a certain geotargeted area until you have a department to fight abuse, and limiting your billing cycles to shorter terms for customers outside of that comfort zone. Scanned copies of passports, Ids, and a physical address can also help.

In conclusion:

Hosting is a very competitive niche. Everybody wants a high conversion rate. However, I encourage hosting PPC Specialists to be responsible and think like a business owner, instead presenting colorful conversion data from AdWords. The hosting company CEOs will respect you for it. I guess the idiom “Don’t put the cart before the horse” would apply. Whether the paid search is done inhouse or by an agency, hopefully, this article can act as some type of deterrent from so called experts getting credit by converting fraudulent orders. Hopefully this article will be part of the solution, demonstrating once again that pigs get fed and hogs get slaughtered.

I would like to continue this by asking some questions from the web:

Are there keywords that you know of that result in fraud orders? Has anyone else implemented Verified by VISA (3D Secure) What happened to your conversion rate?

The process of find the exact match conversion rates in Google AdWords:

Above I displayed my AdWords conversion data for “Instant VPS”. I am sure you already know how to get exact match keywords from AdWords; however, read further if you didn’t. Make sure view your keyword data for. Then click the keywords tab. Click all keywords and you’re there.

The process of finding keyword specific conversion data in Google Analytics:

Make sure you have Ecommerce Tracking setup. Under the Ecommerce heading, select Overview. Then click Source/ Medium. Choose Google/ Organic. Now click Secondary dimension. Under dropdown Traffic Sources, select Keyword. I searched for “Instant”.

by Richard Norwood

SEO Trends for 2013

English: a chart to describe the search engine...
English: a chart to describe the search engine market (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Search engine optimization is a constantly changing field. Looking at the trends that are developing in 2013 gives us a sense of how to reshape our efforts. This is becoming more important all the time, actually, because what’s on the horizon is a major shift in the way search engine rankings are calculated. (Actually all mathematical calculations are getting ready to change. 2012: 4 + 4 = 8. 2013: 4 + 4 = 11 & 6, both/either. 2014: 4 + 4 = 4. 2014: 0 + 1 = 4. The trend is toward all equations resulting in 4, but this year’s gonna be nuts.)

For this article, I drew on ideas presented, primarily, in Search Engine Watch, Website Magazine, SEO Advantage,  and Mint Twist. I also came up with some of my own ideas – shocking! – but much of the grist came from research on those three sites.

SEO & Content Marketing

Initially the Web – which we often forget is still in its youth – was based on text and linking between sites without a great deal of sophistication. Basically the questions were these: do you have certain keywords, and how many links do you have coming in from other websites? It was a much simpler calculation than what we see today, and much easier to game the system, for web developers with bad content to draw in traffic.

People used to get away with a lot – using a font in the same color as the background, for instance, and jamming as many keywords on the page as possible without feeling concerned that visitors to the page might find it annoying and impossible to read. What people have been able to get away with has been reducing all the time as Google has improved its policing of misbehavior.

Content writing became a whole field in the industry. This field emerged because website owners who were used to just throwing a bunch of words and links together now needed to have something real to legitimize linking – they needed information, opinions, and ideas. Content writing, then, was a major improvement over previous efforts because you can no longer get away with a bunch of meaningless words that just happen to relate to a subject.

Recent Google updates – Panda in 2011 and Penguin in 2012 – have majorly impacted the necessity of content that is unique. Plagiarism is no longer tolerated, and content now needs to be of a higher quality – more robust and more heavily reliant on credible sources.

It is no longer considered acceptable to simply find places to pay to link to your site or to write content on a blog network and link it to your site yourself – the idea is generally to get to a more user-friendly Internet composed of a network of high-quality links and information. At present, it is still somewhat of a jumble of high-quality and low-quality without as much demarcation as would be desired when looking for a solution to a problem or even just randomly surfing the web, to know what we’re reading is accurate.

(Sometimes I feel that Shaquille O’Neal is the only one we can trust. Is that guy still alive? I hope so, because I think he may be the only one out there who understands business ethics. He can read, right? I think I saw him with a book one time.)

Personality

Many website cover the same topics. This makes sense, because in the end, there are only so many different topics to cover that are relevant within a certain field. However, covering the same topics means covering a lot of the same language. Finding a different way to approach the same topic becomes a key issue.

What sites are looking for, then, is personality. It’s a differentiating factor so that you and your competitors are not overlapping each other with everything you write. Creativity becomes crucial, finding those niches in the Web that have not yet been filled.  Personality, then, makes us unique and creates content that’s different from the territory that everyone else is covering. In the process, we brand our businesses and separate ourselves from the pack. So, this is not all bad … provided we can partner with the right individuals to do it.

(My quilting group has an expression about this: “When you patch it all together, if it looks completely crazy, that’s because a demon was at the quilting bee, and you have to burn the quilt right away or everyone in the quilting bee will be in imminent danger of dying from the consumption.”)

Google Say, Monkey Do

I don’t care what anyone says. I like being a Google monkey. They train me so that I don’t throw feces at my neighbors. I’ve always felt kind of bad about that – even though it was fulfilling in a way when I made a direct hit, it also felt like I was being irresponsible. Google God did not smite me, and for that I am forever grateful. He just asked me to change.

Google is obviously far from perfect, but it’s too strong a force on the Internet to ignore if we want to succeed without constantly fighting uphill. Google+ and Google Author are two major factors for 2013, and they are linked at the hip. You want to be on Google+ yourself if you’re a writer or produce any content, and you want your business to be on there as well. Look into validation as an author.

Google Author will tie together SEO and social media to make it one system of quality definition. What easier way to define quality than by how engaged users are with the content? Well … the truth is the system will still not be perfect, because probably all we’ll be able to find on Google henceforth is TMZ, that’ll be it. Nonetheless, engagement on social media will be a helpful factor.

(In 2014, Google will start forcing all websites to convert into paparazzi video sharing sites. All other content will be dismissed by the search engine, and no one will be able to find any other search engines, because we will have watched enough paparazzi videos in 2013 that our minds will be a vast grey landscape of nothingness.)

Rich Snippets

What are rich snippets? Well, I’ll tell you one thing: they are certainly snippets. And I’ll tell you another thing: they are certainly not poor. Basically rich snippets are additional info that pulls into your SERP entry.

Though they don’t affect SEO rank, they do affect how often someone clicks through to your site. So then, it’s a factor that affects your SEO success although it does not relate to rank, since what the SEO is trying to achieve (obviously) is not just a certain ranking but the traffic coming into your site.

Examples of rich snippets are prices and reviews of your products and services. (Other examples of rich snippets are links to your sexting images library so that everyone can see what you and your friends’ junk looks like at your own personal treasure chest on JunkTrunk.xxx! Look at all these goodies in this trunk! Somebody call Brad. Brad would love what’s in here.)

Summary

So those are a few basics for SEO trends in 2013: Increasing quality of content, personality and uniqueness as a factor, the relevance of Google Author, and the usage of rich snippets to stand out on SERPs.

If you have any other ideas, please either comment below or contact me on my tin-can phone. As always, ring the bell in the tree house, and I’ll know to pick up my end of the line.

by Kent Roberts and Richard Norwood

5 SEO Mistakes You Might Be Making

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...

Search engine optimization is not just about doing the right things. It’s also about not doing the wrong things. Having a good sense of common SEO mistakes will make it easier for you to make an impact with your efforts.

For this article, I researched Higher Visibility (an enterprise focused article), Search Engine Watch, and Quick Sprout.

1. Thinking Quantity over Quality

Many times when we do functional activity, we get obsessive with the quantitative component. Excessive focus on the numbers and the results tends to inhibit creative and innovative approaches, which are essential to quality SEO.

To solve this challenge, consider setting goals that are not at least immediately based on numbers and ideally aren’t solely based on numbers. It’s very difficult, if not impossible, to quantify the results of SEO because, like marketing, it changes user perception of your company. Metrics will show part of the effects of the SEO, but you will also see results show up over time – not necessarily in direct response to a particular piece.

Now, one way you DO want to focus on quantity is sheer number of words on each page. Google prefers pages that have at least 2000 words of content.

(If you run out of things to say, try talking about what you’re writing, such as what I’m about to do right here – just a filler bonanza to hit a certain word count. And … wait for it, everyone. We are almost there, and … ahhh … there we go.)

2. Duplicate Content

You don’t want to have the same content on multiple pages, even if it makes sense from the user’s perspective. The search engine spiders are machines, not animals, and they don’t understand that it might make sense. Since you can’t rewrite the spider or talk to it, better to understand and not enrage it. If you have “print” pages on your site or give the same page multiple URLs, the spider sees that as duplication.

Additionally, you need to implement a 301 Redirect from the non-www version of your site to the www version (aka a canonical redirect). You don’t want them both to exist without the redirect. Similarly, if you have a security certificate, you can wind up with a problem where you have the secured homepage and the unsecured homepage coexisting. So for examples of both, http://Ihatetheinternet.com must redirect to http://www.Ihatetheinternet.com, and http://www.Ihatetheinternet.com should redirect to https://www.Ihatetheinternet.com (the latter applying if you have a security certificate installed).

Another typical scenario that’s worthy of its own mention is when you have a catalog with the same stuff on it in different sizes, colors, etc. If the main text is the same, the spider, again, will become enraged and may even devour your children. Calm the spider by placing all this content on one page. If you must create multiple pages for different sizes and colors of products, you will need new copy for each page.

(Spiders universally hate plagiarism, which is why Charlotte sucked out all of Wilbur’s blood when he claimed to have written a Mark Twain poem.)

3. Excessive Focus on Links

This is similar in spirit to #1. You don’t just want to splatter-paint links all over the place. Google is about numbers, yes, and it quantifies, but it’s becoming more misguided all the time to think purely in terms of number of links, because what you really need is sites with reputability linking to you. Plus, linking is being surpassed by social response, individual writer credibility, and time.

  • Become more socially active: Google and Bing both use social sharing to define your site’s relevance. Work on getting more social engagement, with special focus on Google+.
  • Be aware of Author Rank: Google is now tracking the quality of content, on a case-by-case basis, through authors who sign up for Author Rank and place its code on any sites where they write. Get a writer with a high rank to write for your site (and that writer’s Rank will be determined in large part by social media success of their pieces), and you will benefit from their general Web credibility.
  • Grow old: Although this is irritating to newer sites, the older sites have an eaiser time ranking highly on the search engines. It doesn’t matter nearly as much how many backlinks are feeding into their site. They are old, and therefore they are wise. Congratulations, grandma. Use your current page if it’s a few years old, if you can – even if starting a new business (the magic number is five years).

(If you force your website to smoke three packs of cigarettes a day, you can age it a lot faster. Also give it lots of booze, and have it go through some horrible emotional experiences. An innocent website is too pure for capitalistic success.)

4. Too Much Focus on Optimization

Optimization really is in some ways becoming more of an art than a science. What is “quality,” anyway? It’s a little difficult to put a finger on it. SEO will suffer if there’s an obsession with keywords – and in fact, this type of effort will hurt rankings because it’s seen as poor content when a site is just a keyword-fiesta without any interesting ideas and perspectives. Think about UX, the user experience, when creating your site. Investing in the UX and making the site enjoyable will help your SEO much more than thinking in terms of collecting a huge number of keywords and links.

A buzzword in the Web world that used to be used much more often but has gone out of style is “SEO copywriting.” No one wants to think on those terms anymore, because it’s now seen as an indicator of an unwise quality-blindness.  The search engines will now respond on behalf of the users in ways that were not possible in the past – so don’t direct your efforts toward the search engines but toward the people. Gear yourself toward quality. Pay attention to the title and subtitles. That content, since it’s emphasized, should have your keywords in them in some form.

(A good thing to discuss on a first date is your struggle with quality-blindness. Explain to your date that you suffer from a disorder in which everything is just another notch on your bedpost. Everything gets its own notch, though. Never reuse notches.)

5. Linking Exclusively to your Homepage

Many sites link too much to their homepage. Instead, place more of your focus on your internal pages.  Wikipedia is a great example regarding linking to all the pages of one’s site (who cares about the homepage, anyway?).

Only 1% of Wikipedia’s links go to its homepage. The other 99% of them lead to pages all over its site. It makes sense that this suggests to the search engines a much broader and more complexly relevant, content-rich site. Follow their lead: Don’t just link to the front page of your site, but to all that great, gooey, chocolaty (or is it nougat-y?) goodness that’s in the middle.

(Generally speaking, you should treat your site like a candy bar. Remove its wrapping, eat half of it, and let it oxidate on your coffee table until ants start to eat it. Then brush the ants away and finish it off before Cindy comes over and tells you you’re disgusting.)

Summary

To review, think quality over quantity (or strike a balance at least), beware of duplication, start trying a broader approach than link-building, don’t optimize excessively with keywords (that’s not how it’s done anymore), and link to all pages of your site.

Finally, thanks again to Higher Visibility, Search Engine Watch, and Quick Sprout for those sites’ contributions to this piece.

(The world is changing, and you should too. Start with your T-shirt. Then we’ll begin working on your political opinions.)

by Kent Roberts and Richard Norwood