Archive for April, 2011

Title: Google Panda Update – A Broader View of U.S. Traffic Patterns

Search Engine News, Search Engine Optimization

Article Source: Link Exchange Service Network

Experian Hitwise has released some new Panda-related data (obtained by Forbes), casting a broader view of what some of the update’s victims’ search traffic is looking like since early in the year – before Panda’s first wave.

There are some interesting findings here indeed. Forbes was kind enough to share a spreadsheet of the data, looking at U.S. weekly downstream traffic from Google.com to selected sites. The spreadsheet would appear to show the true top losers of the Panda update in the U.S.

Hitwise Panda Data

Click image to see larger version

It’s worth noting that not all of the data here is necessarily representative of Panda – just Google traffic in general. Believe it or not, Panda is not the only thing that can come into play here.

The thing that has everybody talking is the -40% hit Demand Media has taken in downstream traffic from Google in the U.S. Demand Media’s Answerbag took a -80% hit, LiveStrong took a -57% hit, and the company’s real bread and butter site, eHow, took a -29% hit. That’s from January 08 to April 23.

The usual suspects are also included on the list. For the same time period, Articlebase, the top loser on this list, took a -83% hit, Suite101 took a -79% hit, Mahalo took a -78% hit, EzineArticles took a -77% hit, HubPages took a -67% hit, and Yahoo’s Associated Content took a -61% hit.

Again, this is just up to three days ago from close to the beginning of the year. I wonder how the patterns will develop for these sites after another month or two.

Also worth noting – Overstock.com is on the list at -32%. Just this week, the company announced that they are no longer in “Google’s Penalty Box”.

Among the winners: Walmart, JC Penney (interesting considering recent events), Forbes, Whitepages, Etsy, eBay, YouTube (a discussion on whether this is justified here), YellowPages, and About.com.

Taming the Panda

If you are one of Panda’s victims, you’ve likely already been doing your fair share of site evaluation (and perhaps business model evaluation) and soul searching. There are many factors to consider when trying to get your site up to Google’s code for quality. Of course nobody knows exactly what that code is, but there are plenty of hints and starting points. We’ve looked at a lot of them here.

SEO Jim Boykin wrote an interesting piece about Panda, with a bit of a history lesson, referencing Google’s “supplemental index,” which was heavily discussed about 5 years ago.

“I believe that after they removed the ability to clearly see which pages are in the supplemental results, that they then went on a binge of putting way way more % of pages into this ‘Supplemental index’,” he says. “So something to understand today with Panda is that google was already pretty good at tossing the majority of everyone’s pages on their sites into the supplemental results. At least the Deep Pages, and the Pages with Little content, and the pages of dup content…”

He goes on to talk about different signals Google has added to its algorithm since then, and looks at post Panda interviews with Google that we have looked at in the past (see all of our past Panda coverage here). Boykin’s lengthy article is worth a read, but he concludes that the biggest question site-owners should be asking themselves (to avoid Panda Hell) is: “How do I get people to not quickly go back to the same google search?”

The answer, I would say, is to provide as much relevant information as possible to answer the questions users are likely seeking the answers to. Of course you have to consider that Google has a total of over 200 different factors it’s looking at.

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Title: Sorry, Folks. It’s Not Always About the SEO.

Search Engine News, Search Engine Optimization

Article Source: Link Exchange Service Network

Yesterday, Matt Cutts, Supreme Master of Google Space, Time, and SEO, posted his latest video response to a question that I thought was just priceless.

If you don’t want to play the video, the question was, “When analyzing rankings for highly competitive keywords in our industry, we have found sites not as optimized as ours (on-page), and that have few links, and little content are still ahead of us. What gives? Why are ‘unoptimized’ sites ranking so well?”

Matt provides a perfect and accurate answer to the question, in a technical sense, which I’m not going to copy here, but basically he chalked it up to a variety of unseen factors, like the fact that you can’t see all the links to a competitor’s site using the “link:” variable, etc. etc.

Look, you can get as technical with this answer as you want, but the one thing he really didn’t say in the end (and this isn’t a dig at all) is that maybe that site is just more relevant than hers. Sure, Google uses its algorithm to mimic the way a human would see something as being more relevant than another, but it still comes back to one site being more relevant than another.

You can optimize the daylights out of a site… do everything right, get the content, set the architecture, get the inbound links and still this site is sitting on top of you, probably for a very good reason.

Now, there are a whole host of goofballs that comment on Matt’s posts on YouTube and they all talk about spam and “FAIL!” and all sorts of other crazy, kooky theories like Google was some sort of shadow government. But the truth is, Google doesn’t need to BS you with their answers… the real answers are more complicated than you can imagine.

This is why we always start our relationships with new clients with an SEO audit that looks at their site with best practices in mind for our big three target areas, content, site architecture, and inbound links. Because 99% of the time, you missed something that was pretty basic. Now you have a plan, a strategy for attacking the SEO issues that are right there on the surface, and there’s a great chance it will help you move up the ranks.

But still, we can’t promise anything… and especially that you’re going to overtake your competitor for that one term that really, really bugs you. Any agency that does, it selling you snake oil and you should run away from them with a quickness.

Just please don’t try and make it sound like Google is picking on you… it just sounds pitiful (but that’s for another post).

Originally published at fang digital marketing

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Title: How to Optimize Your Images For Search Engine Traffic

Search Engine News, Search Engine Optimization

Article Source: Link Exchange Service Network

The following is part of a multiple part series covering image optimization techniques. This article is intended for beginners through intermediate SEO’s; if this doesn’t pertain to you, you may want to skim as most of this will probably be review material for you.

Some of the big questions many people ask are why would they even want to perform image optimization? Doesn’t it just help people who want to steal or hotlink images? And is there really any meaningful traffic or links that you can get from image optimization? IMHO the answer is yes. Let’s say someone is going on a trip to Italy. They might do image searches for things to do or see in Italy and for famous Italian landmarks like the Leaning Tower of Piza, the Trevi Fountain, or St. Peter’s Basilica. Thanks to Google’s universal search results, images provide a way to get onto the first page (or, in some cases, the top result) and get a click through, an ad view, or adsense impression. It might even get a lead generation completion. Maybe you run a fish store. If a university professor or government agency needs a picture of a fish and your image result appears, and you allow your images to be reused in exchange for a link, this can be huge way to passively build links slowly over time (true story! It happened for a client I used to have). Now that we’ve got the why out of the way, let’s talk about the “how” of image optimization.

Filenames

This is one of the most basic elements of image optimization. If you have an image of blue widgets, I would name your image “blue-widgets.jpg” or “blue-widgets.gif”. You can use other formats like PNG, but I have gotten better results with “jpg” and “gif” files. You can use other characters like underscore as word delimiters, but I get better results with hyphens. You can run the words together if they are separate in other factors. I have found stemming plays a role (ie widget vs widgets), but you can get around it using other factors. I haven’t seen capitalization play a role, but I prefer to use all lower case because I usually use Apache servers and case sensitivity matters. If you are going to have multiple images of the same object-type, I suggest adding a “-1?, “-2? onto the end.

Now, before the hate mail or hate tweets start, it is entirely possible to have an image rank without the keywords being in the file nameIF there are enough other factors in place. However, you should ask yourself why would you give up a chance to give a search engine a signal about what an image is about? If you work on a large ecommerce platform or other large database application, chances are good that your gold diamond earrings will have an image file name like “GDX347294.jpg” that corresponds to the item’s SKU or other internal classifier. So, yes, you will have to sacrifice the keyword for business reasons.

ALT Text

Let’s get the basic information out of the way: ALT text was designed for screen readers or visually-impaired people to know what they weren’t seeing. Your goal is to use it to satisfy the screen readers while being keyword focused enough for the search engines and without being a keyword stuffing spammer. Here’s an example of ALT text variations:

Keyword stuffed: discount hotel room paris france

ALT text only: Eiffel Tower

SEO optimized: Eiffel Tower from Louvre Bons Enfants hotel room

Striving to find a balance between pleasing the search engines and text readers can be a juggling act. If you are risky with some of your other SEO techniques, I’d play this on the safe side.

Headings and Bold Text

If image optimization for a particular image is important, I really like to optimize the image with bold or a heading tag of the term I’m chasing right above the image. I’ve found this really helps give a strong signal to the engines

 

Oceanus Statue from Trevi Fountain

Image Captions

Image captions like the one to the right are another way I really like to give the search engines a good nudge in the direction I want them to go. Try to place the search term you are trying to optimize for at the front of the caption.

Image size

I’ve found that if you keep your images a reasonable size you generally do better with image optimization. That’s not to say really big or really small images won’t rank, just that images that are larger than 100×100 and smaller than 1200×1200 work best. Using a thumbnail that links to a larger picture can be helpful.

Image Traffic

So what can you expect from image traffic? Like all things, it depends on what you are chasing, but I have one image that ranks on the first page for a single word term that brings in hundreds of views for me every month. The page has adsense on it and, over a single year, it brings in several hundred dollars worth of revenue. It’s something to think about before you write off image optimization.

 

Images Traffic Data

So what are the takeaways from this post:

  • Try to name your images with your keywords if possible, using the hyphen as a delimiter.
  • Shorter names are better than longer. Avoid using more than 4 words if possible.
  • Keep your ALT text keyword focused without being stuffed or spammy.
  • If possible use headings or bold tags above or directly next to the image.
  • Use captions if at all possible and keep the keywords closer to the front of the caption.
  • Keep the images a reasonable size. They should be large enough for people to see but small enough to fit on a screen.
  • If you own the image, encourage people to reuse your image in exchange for a link.
  • Try to find a way to monetize image traffic with CPM advertising, adsense, or affiliate links.

Originally published at Graywolf’s SEO Blog

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