A rose by any other name may smell just as sweet, but good luck trying to find good results for “thorny red flower” on the first page of the SERPs! Until Google gets even better with their relationship-mapping (thanks Hummingbird, you’re a great start!), long-tail optimization will be a huge part of SEO. Whether your goal is to optimize content for the search engines or getting fresh new content ideas, using the right keywords and phrases is a big factor for success. The trick is knowing which keywords to incorporate in your content. If you’ve done a Google search for “keyword research”, then you probably know there are tons of methods, some using hardcore SEO tricks or simple keyword research tools. The most popular keyword tool by far is the one and only Google Keyword Tool called Keyword Planner. Conceived originally for AdWords, this once external keyword tool is loved by SEOs for the metrics it provides. It’s biggest shortcoming? It mostly reveals only head or body keywords, and you have to wrestle it out of an Adwords account. But what about those times you need more detailed, long-tail keywords?
Twitter isn’t just an interactive platform where everyone and their mother can go to speak their mind in 140-character chunks—it’s a powerful, dynamic tool that can be used for a variety of functions: as a communication tool, real-time news feed, trolling, you name it! For the sake of today’s piece, I’ll give some basic tips on how to use Twitter as a vehicle to learn about SEO. This 101 is for anyone who has either never used Twitter or is simply a dabbler.
At the time this post was written, Twitter reported 284 million monthly active users with more than 500 million Tweets being sent per day (unfortunately we have no real stat on how many accounts are fake or abandoned, but I digress). There’s a staggering amount of content and information being passed through that firehose. But, like most things in life, it’s not about consuming all the content, but the best content. The bigger the “signal” the higher likelihood there is for “noise.”
Last week our team attended a local (Philadelphia) SEO meetup where there was a presentation from local wiz Sean Malseed of Circlerank. The presentation was called “Build Your Own Damn (SEO) Tools With Google Apps.” He showed us how to use Google Sheets for scraping and pulling API data to build your own custom tools. He also shared his own site that has some really incredible tools ready for free use: http://www.ranktank.org.
WPengine is our current hosting solution (since we run Wordpress), going from 1&1 (a “you get what you pay for” type of hosting service). I wasn’t thrilled with 1&1, especially after trying to run the Outdated Content Finder with them. They’re support was very poor. But not unlike any other webhost I used in the past. I figured they’re all this way. Reliability and availability was fine for the most part until a Moz Top 10 link came through, then timber…. down went the webhost. I’m also not a huge fan of having to dig through confusing resource pages when a problem happens. I figured they were all this way.
The folks at Mountain View made the conscious decision that keywords alone couldn’t deliver them the results they wanted to see (ahem, “their users wanted to see”). Google tried some different modeling, but ultimately came around to semantic search (that is, using semantic technology to refine the query results). Now I said much of the industry has picked up on it. Not all. I still see a lot of pretending Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird never happened. That’s unfortunate for innocent clients around the world. But for most of us probably reading this, we’re students of a new lexicon. With words like “triples” and “entities” and “semiotics” and “topic modeling.”
Ah, the SEO report. Sometimes the bane of our existence. Some agencies spend the majority of their time creating monthly detailed monstrosities, while others might send quick, white-labeled exports. Meanwhile, smart companies (like Seer) look for ways to use APIs and programming to speed up data pulling. At Greenlane, we took this approach as well; Keith, my partner and incurable data nerd, created our out-of-the-box reports to pull API data on traditional SEO metrics like rankings (yes – we still believe in the value), natural traffic (at the month over month and year over year level), natural conversions (same range), and every necessary target landing page metric we could think of. Then after discussing clients’ own KPIs, we add more obligatory reports to our default set.
Entity optimization as a big SEO play isn’t quite upon us yet. It’s a slow, growing Google addition. I know – it frustrates me too. So much potential, of which I believe will greatly improve search results in the future. Google isn’t nearly showing the fruits of everything it knows through entities, whether through cards or search results – at least not relative to the way they rank on keywords alone. But can knowledge cards help bring qualified traffic while considering searcher intent? SEOs always talk about searchers intent. Anyone who’s been doing SEO for a while knows that building for intent can be a challenge.
I read – and commented on – a great post called Panda 4.0 & Google’s Giant Red Pen by Trevin Shirley. Panda 4.0 just hit; the SEO space is hiding under their desk, with some reacting either out of panic or for show. It’s definitely news, but at this point, I don’t see any reason to scream from the rooftops at Google. It’s what we should be expecting by now. In 2011, the first Panda showed us Google is not afraid to drop atom bombs. Panda opened the door for Penguin, and many updates have come since. Matt Cutts said he wished Google had acted sooner, and in his shoes, I’d probably agree.
Sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures. This post is about a desperate measure. We had a client with a manual link penalty. We did some work (using my outline from this post). Rankings started going up and traffic/conversions started boosting. Then, a few days later, the next Google Notification came in. It’s like playing digital Russian Roulette with those things – you’ll either be thrilled or be in a lot of pain. This time Google said they “changed” our penalty, as there were still some spammy links out there. Remember, not all penalties have the same impact. Clearly ours was lessened (which was continually proven in the weeks to follow), but our client – rightfully so – wanted to have the whole penalty removed. The problem was we couldn’t find anymore bad links. Everything from Ahrefs, OSE, Google Webmaster Tools, Bing Webmaster Tools, and Majestic (etc.) was classified and handled appropriately.