Tag Archives: Google

2011 Search Engine Ranking Factors

Every two years SEOmoz polls a bunch of SEOs on what we believe influences Google’s search rankings. They assembled new data today and have released their 2011 Search Ranking Factors report to the masses. We’re always very excited by this chance to see a community overview of what makes Google tick.

The ranking factors are fairly complicated, a lot of you aren’t SEO junkies like we are, so I wanted to break down a few of the really important details from the report.

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Analytics: The Music in the Math

Post written by Matthew Egan. Follow Matthew on Twitter.

We all use Analytics to track the progress of our Internet Marketing.  Whether we use Google Analytics for our PPC or our SEO, or we use something like Web Trends or my favorite getClicky, we’re all watching the page views, the bounce rates, tracking conversions, following the math of SEO.  The numbers, up or down, good month or bad.

Analytics is like dancing to a song you’ve never heard before.  Maybe you’ve heard the band before, or you quickly pick up the tempo, but predicting the next cords, predicting the next section or melody is simply impossible.  If the musician did his job, the music will surprise you, the music will be unpredictable.

This dance, this instinct, this guessing game that we play with the math of SEO is everything.  No one knows exactly what to do on every SEO project.  Sure we put our Keywords in the Title Tag, we optimize key pages for specific keywords, we build links, we create content, we make our best educated guess as to what will work.  It’s still just guessing.

Anyone that gets up and says they have the secret, the math down, the one size fits all approach is simply lying.  No one has a partnership with Google for SEO, no one has an in that lets them change the rankings, Google’s algorithm is this brilliant fickle thing that just like a song, keeps right on going whether you’re dancing to it or not.

In SEO, whoever guesses the best wins.  It sounds awful, to think that we’re all just doing our best, pushing along trying to roll with our mistakes and adjust our strategies to succeed.  It’s the truth.  We’re trying to guess better than the other guy, but the fact remains the same.

At the end of the day, Analytics is the tool, the tempo of that song, that helps us correct our methods, improve our own rythm and God willing keep us from stepping on the poor girl’s toes.  All we can do is trust our instincts and learn from our mistakes.

It’s just like Jason Fried says in his book Rework; “Planning is guessing.”

My job is to be a better guesser than the other guy.  Any fluff, head in the clouds “guru” “expert” “visionary” crap is just that, fluff.  Filler.  Buzz words.  It’s about as useful as the best site ever with no backlinks.

Get out there and make your best guess, then follow up with Analytics and correct accordingly.  It’s not a secret, it’s just a little faith and an educated guess.

Matthew Egan is the President of San Antonio SEO consulting group Image Freedom. When not dancing to the blues, Matthew helps web pages like yours get more traffic through content driven Search Engine Optimization.

Big Numbers vs. Real Leads

Often I hear from clients that they want a lot of web traffic, that if only they had the traffic, some random percentage would convert to sales.  That is true to an extent but wouldn’t you rather have 50 customers, over 1,000 visitors?  When optimizing for the search engines it is possible to evaluate which keywords are of most value, and through ongoing optimization of a site you can achieve fantastic conversion rates without needing huge traffic volume.

I am a small business SEO, so right off the bat I am at the disadvantage that a lot of the articles you read apply to much larger enterprise level businesses.  I chose to be a small business SEO because I believe in the small businesses value to America, and because often the small business is in greater need than the larger business with a huge built in marketing budget.  When I get your small business onto page one of Google, that is an accomplishment when you consider how many people are linking to these larger name brands.  That one small local business stands out, and the hits they get from being there quickly turn into sales.

Let’s use the example of “san antonio medical text books”.  I don’t have a client that sells medical texts, but let’s assume I did, and I optimized for phrases related to medical text books.  I could target ‘book store’ I could target ‘text book’ I could target a pretty wide variety of subjects, but how likely is a person searching for ‘book store’ going to need my medical text books?  The traffic may come, the site may get hits, but the conversion rate would hardly be noticeable because these terms are related, but not necessarily supportive of the goal of our site.

This is why Keyword Research is so important, and it pains me to see the web sites designed BEFORE any kind of SEO or Keyword Research has been done.  When you put the SEO as an afterthought to the development of your site, you have to work backwords, and as any business owner can attest to, no one wants to pay for the same work twice.

So once again, our friend the Google Keyword Tool comes into play, and we sit down with the phrases we feel will generate sales.  On average I try and build a list of 5 or 6 keywords that are related and can be worked into site content without much issue.  For the most part, small businesses live or die by a single keyword and you start by making an educated guess about which keyword that is, and then follow the search volume over time to attach value to each keyword.

Ryan Kelly from @PearAnalytics makes a product called SiteJuice which we’ve talked about before.  SiteJuice assigns value to each of your keywords, and Ryan tells me that in future versions of SiteJuice you’re going to be able to assign specific value based on your industry to those keywords.  So just because you come up under “san antonio book store” doesn’t mean the value is there that you’d want targeting “san antonio medical text books”.  I’m really excited to see the progress there as that will make tracking the value of these keywords that much easier.

What are your top performing keywords?  Do you even know?  Contact an optimizer near you and tell them you want an hour of their time to talk about your existing analytics.  See what they can tell you about your best performing search terms and see if you can better target those phrases.  At the end of the day, you don’t just want big numbers in the visitors column, you want a hige conversion rate, and targeting the RIGHT keywords is the way to get there.

What are your top performing keywords?

Was this helpful? SEO can be frustrating, so if you have any questions please post them in the comments below.  Check out the Image Freedom homepage for the full SEO kick or contact Matthew directly for a free consultation.

Apple vs. Google. vs. Privacy

Earlier this year I was published in Entrepreneur Magazine in an article about Google Chrome weighing the pros and cons of Google’s slick new browser, my vote was to stick with Firefox.  This blog will come as a bit of a departure from the normal, but reading the news there is just a lot going on with Google right now that is frightening to me.

Google REALLY wants your information.

In the movie Minority Report Tom Cruise walks down a hallway filled with 3D advertisers able to scan your eyes and cater advertisements specifically to each user.  These advertisers are able to query a database and know what kind of car you drive, where you live, what else you’ve purchased, etc.  This makes for better advertisement success because the content is catered to the user.

It seems that Google is very eager to learn as much as they can about each person, and assign that data to your gmail or Google User account.  Google now owns YouTube, and knows what you’re watching online, Google tracks your search data through Google to know what you’re into, and if you read the fine print of the Google Chrome license agreement you’ll see that you’re agreeing to let Google record all of your online activity so they can send that back to their engineers to further refine their advertisements to you, and map your behavior online.

Maybe this isn’t a big deal, but people are pretty guarded about their privacy.  Google isn’t recording your bank account number, or your social security number, they aren’t capturing your e-mails or selling your information to third parties, but they are using the map of your virtual self to target advertisements your way.

According to a report by Business Insider Apple is receiving more than $100 Million Dollars annually from Google to keep Google the default Search Engine on the iPhone.  The relationship between Apple and Google is starting to deteriorate in no small part because Google wanted the data collected from their Google Maps application on the iPhone 3G to again further target content and advertising to you based on your behavior.

The issue that concerns me, from a search marketing perspective, is that Google seems to want to decide what is right for you, based on your behavior and their algorithm.  This moves us away from an Organic Search format where web sites are ranked based on popularity and are instead ranked on what your internet behavior says about you.

If Microsoft’s history is any indication, I see lawsuits and public fears becoming more and more prevalent as Google’s Chrome operating system hits the market.  How will people feel when they learn that their operating system is spying on them to build the next generation marketing tools?

That dark Minority Report future might not be too far fetched, we may be only a few clicks away.  How much of your information do you want Google to have?  Is it all in the name of a better more targeted experience or does Google seek to turn our personal data into profitable research?