The Value of Local SEO to Small Businesses

SEO can be challenging for small businesses. They must compete for the same market share against larger brands that often have more prestige, brand recognition, and consumer affinity.

That doesn’t mean that organic search is out of reach for small businesses as a powerful inbound marketing channel with high potential for return. In order to compete with large brands, small business owners must have an SEO strategy that offsets the often large difference in marketing budget. Because small businesses will not be able to outspend their larger counterparts on media acquisition, they must take a much more targeted and refined approach.

When it comes to short-tail SEO—general phrases with a high amount of search volume—the search engine results pages are dominated by big brands. There is little that a small business marketer with limited budget can do to change these results.

Despite various limitations, small businesses can gain meaningful search engine result real estate with a focus on areas of lowered competition. When geography is taken into account, there is often a much smaller big-brand presence in search results. That opens a window of opportunity for small businesses to gain useful organic search visibility.

Focusing on consumers looking for products and services in specific locales is a great way to limit the competition and give small businesses the ability to gain valuable real estate on search engine results pages. If the business also has an offline presence in a specific locale, there is even more opportunity in targeting these consumers. Consumers trust of a business they can visit in person, which will lead to higher conversion rates.

Geo-Modified Keyword Targeting

Part of the opportunity of location-based SEO for small businesses is to utilize geo-modified search queries. Better yet, in order to benefit from this method, the business does not necessarily have to be location-based. Geo-targeted search phrases are typically very low in competition and are often searched at the purchase stage of the buying cycle, which means they carry high-conversion rates.

Let’s use “home security” as an example. There are 22,200 Google searches for “home security” each month in the U.S.m according to Adwords. However, a small business typically would not have enough budget allocated to SEO to rank on page 1 for that query. When the geo-modifier “miami” is added to the query the monthly search volume drops to 210. This is still a decent amount of search volume and can certainly lead to home security sales.

image001

The interesting part of this example comes when we look at competition. Examining the number of online pages that have each of these phrases in both the title tag of the page and the anchor text of an inbound link (this metric is known as In Anchor and Title) offers a picture of the relative competition for each phrase. This data can be pulled from MajesticSEO’sKeyword Checker tool.

image002

The In Anchor and Title data show that the business will only be competing with approximately 51 other pages for the phrase “home security miami” as opposed to 248,328 competing pages for the more generic “home security.”

A business likely will not  be able to rest on the 210 monthly searches for “home security miami.” This strategy, however, can be implemented at scale. Building geo-targeted content on the site for multiple geographic areas that the business can service provides the opportunity for several page 1 rankings within a specific budget.

Marketers should start by optimizing for the geographic areas that have the highest demand for the specific product or service that is being sold and working down from there. This can be identified by looking at the location report in Google Analytics to see where the majority of existing customers are coming from. You can also use keyword suggestion tools, such asGoogle’s Keyword Tool or Wordtracker, to see the search demand of various geo-modified phrases.

Local Search

If the small business has physical locations that consumers can visit, local search is an absolute must. Local search campaigns are ideal for capturing consumers searching on mobile devices because they can get directions and call the business with a simple click. There is no excuse for any local business to not have an optimized presence in local search engines, particularly within the major ones (Google +, Yahoo Local, Bing Local).

By creating and optimizing listings in local search engines, small business can get a great deal of search engine presence with a limited budget while increasing their rankings within aspecific region.

Build Relationships, Not Links

person-behind-the-email-address

Build relationships, not links. If you’re in the business of link acquisition and looking for a new mantra, or a way to be great at your job, there it is.

Building relationships is a new beast to tame. It’s not about trying to influence machines – it’s about trying to influence people. Every human is a kaleidoscope of attitudes, behaviors, and emotions.

Empathy – immersing oneself in the prospect’s world – is an asset for fostering trust, negotiating exchanges, and building lasting relationships.

Here’s how tapping in to the study of human behavior can help us better understand people’s actions and build stronger ties in a post-Penguin/Panda world.

1. Man (and Woman) is a Perpetually Dissatisfied Animal

Time warp back to philosophy class. Karl Marx’s theory of production and consumption says, “When basic needs have been met, this leads to the creation of new needs.”

Every prospect you contact has a need, something they want or they don’t know they can have – yet. The first step for building relationships is identifying why the person that you’re trying to foster a connection with would benefit from a relationship with you.

Robert Cialdini, author of “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion”, identifies six key principles of persuasion. The very first principle is reciprocity: “People tend to return a favor”. The idea is that when someone makes an effort to do something for us, our moral fabric tends to make us feel obliged to do something in return.

If your client sells shoes and you approach a fashion blogger with a free pair to review, their conscience (and their shoe addiction) will make them happy to review.

Not only does your offer have to be creative when you approach a prospect, it has to relate to how they can achieve a goal.

This may mean having to re-evaluate your link acquisition strategy with your clients, to identify the collateral you can exchange with prospects, whether free samples and trials, exclusive offers, or expertise.

2. Personality Can Tell us a Lot About What Motivates People

The extinct practice of paying for links is now frowned upon by most SEOs, bloggers, and search engines alike. Since Google’s Penguin/Panda updates, outreach solely based on “link building” significantly reduces your response rates and terminates your chances of being considered on an A-list blog.

Now you have to work harder to learn more about who you’re contacting and what you can offer each other in the long-term. There’s a lot more involved than just evaluating the keyword relevancy or pagerank value of a site.

The secret to relationships lies in knowing people’s underlying interests, needs, and values. That’s what helps you determine what motivates them and how you can help each other in the future.

Every one of your prospects is a potential ally. And empathy is the way you will step into their world, and understand what drives their behavior and how you can influence it.

Fortunately (for marketers), you can tell a lot about a person by what they post online. They leave an entire trail of digital footprints for you to follow, from their “About” page, their blog posts, their LinkedIn profile, to what kind of stuff they post on Twitter and Facebook. Your detective work is all laid out for you. It just takes a few extra clicks and a little curiosity.

3. Identify Relevant “Currencies”; Theirs and Yours

MindTools’ Influence Model talks about using “relevant currencies” in order to influence people. The model was actually developed for a work setting, but it’s incredible how these principles can be applied to relationship building. The idea is to establish what the most meaningful “currency” is to the person you are reaching out to.

The five currencies below can be great sources of inspiration when you’re negotiating an exchange:

  • Inspiration-related currencies. People who value these currencies want to find meaning in what they’re doing. To appeal to these people, approach them with a cause, something that will lead to a greater good.
  • Task-related currencies. Task-related currencies are often highly valued where supplies and resources may be scarce. Offer them your client’s expertise on a topic that’s relevant to their site that they haven’t covered yet.
  • Position-related currencies. People who value this currency focus on recognition, reputation, and visibility. Create content relevant to their interests that make an active attempt to engage them, either directly through the content or through social channels.
  • Relationship-related currencies. People who value relationships want to belong. These people want to feel connected on a personal level, with you or the organization you’re representing. Show them that they aren’t just a means to an end and involve them in various initiatives.
  • Personal-related currencies. These currencies relate to the other person on a personal level. You should give courtesy and gratitude for the help you receive. It’s as simple as writing “Thank You” follow up emails, sharing a person’s blog post, and making it a habit of acknowledging people for their efforts.

4. The Medium is the Message

From email to Google+, Facebook to face-to-face, each of these communication channels has their own unique characteristics, much like the people who use them.

Marshall McLuhan stated that the medium through which we choose to communicate holds as much value than the message itself. One contact might like IM, another might always be on Twitter – it’s good to know where people want to be reached.

5. Influence is Give and Take

In Francisco Dao’s article Networking is for Losers, he makes a key point that sums up how you should approach building relationships; a road to quality versus a shooting slope to quantity:

“A few strong relationships can open far more doors than a thousand evenings of glad handing and networking.”

With that, keep in mind these six steps for building fruitful and lasting relationships. See if getting to know the person behind the email address might be worth the time and the nurturing.

Image source: Brands & Idea

Source: http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2228863/Build-Relationships-Not-Links

Google Takes 67% Search Engine Market Share

Google Bing Yahoo logos

Slowly but surely, Google continues to close in on 70 percent market share, moving up 0.1 percent again this month to take a U.S. record 67 percent of all search traffic in November,comScore reported.

It wasn’t at Bing’s expense though, as they also grew their share 0.2 percent for a total of 16.2 percent. Yahoo dropped a tenth of a percentage point to 12.1 percent, while Ask.com and AOL.com also saw slight drops – to 3 percent (down from 3.2 percent) and 1.7 percent respectively (down from 1.8 percent).

Yahoo, despite relatively new leadership, has been slipping or holding steady for the past 16 months.

The November numbers mark new records for both Google and Bing and reflect explicit core search volume. This excludes contextually driven searches that do not reflect specific user intent to interact with search results.

November saw nearly 17 billion explicit core searches, with Google sites taking the greatest piece of the pie with 11.4 billion queries. Microsoft sites accounted for 2.7 billion searches.

Bing did see an increase of 0.4 percent in “Powered by” searches, taking 25.4 percent of queries in that category. Google dominated here as well, with 69.4 percent of searches on other engines carrying their organic results.

Source: http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2232359/Google-Takes-67-Search-Engine-Market-Share

Is There A Deception In the Google Ad System?

As I was writing my previous article for SEJ, I conducted several experiments during which I stumbled across few troubling issues with Google’s methods. One such behavior is a serious issue in terms of customer awareness, which may be considered  border-line fraudulent. Make no mistake, my intention is not to become the Ralph Nader for Google customers, but something at this scale is worth my time and yours too.

Google Instant

Dollars, time, and cents

Before getting into the issue, let me remind you of some basic definitions:

Instant Result-Streaming:

Instant Result-Streaming is what Google does when you start typing a query (longer than a single word), and before you finish it, search results are streamed to the front page. This all happens very quickly before you click on the search button, or sometimes you don’t even have to click on the button. Google calls it “Google Instant”.

CTR:

CTR (Click Through Ratio) is a measurement that indicates how many times your advertisement was shown versus how many times it was clicked by the user. For example, if your advertisement was shown (impression) 100 times, and it was clicked by the end user twice, the CTR for that ad would be 2%.

The Problem:

The problem is that Instant Result-Streaming (Google Instant) is eating up impressions before the users get ample time to view the page, and automatically decreasing CTR because no one will click on those ads present. In other words, you (advertiser in Google) are paying extra for a feature Google uses to increase its appeal. You’ll find below an example how this occurs:

My query is “auto insurance coverage in New York”. With this question in mind, I start typing. But, as soon as I finish the first word “auto” and before I start typing the second word“insurance” results are streamed with ads. Here is the screen capture:

Google Instant

Consider: This preleminary streaming result rapidly transposes as you type

Now, keep in mind you are comfortably viewing this screen capture with ample time because this is a blog page, not a search page. However, in real Google Instant time, as I continue typing with the complete query in my mind, I will not pay attention to this page any longer. It flashes within a fraction of a second before I start typing the 2nd word. Therefore, the impressions byAutoZone and Advanced Auto Parts are totally wasted. Here is my second word screen capture:

Google Instant money maker

Again, while still typing my real query more impressions go by.

Again, I will not pay attention to this page either because I am still typing. Impressions by State Farm, Geico, and Travelers are wasted. Now the 4th word:

Google Instant impression loss

More lost opportunities

State Farm gets another hit along with Maureen Lavelle and MetLife. I am still typing:

Google Instant

The survivors show up with only wasted impressions in their wake

Now I am finished. I am looking at the page, and I have ample time to decide what to do like any other Google user. The top ads State Farm, Geico, and Travelers survived. However, they survived at the expense of few wasted impressions along the way. In addition, the other advertisers like MetLife, or Maureen Lavelle are no longer on the screen. Their impressions were totally wasted.

Google does not give infinite impressions. The number of impressions are directly proportional to bidding, thus the advertiser is paying for it.

Before declaring it as DECEPTION, I have the following questions for Google (if they honor SEJ readers by answering).

  • Do the impressions in Google ads have a timer such that an exposure less than, say 5 seconds, would not count as an impression?
  • If the answer is “no” to the above, then comes the next question: Are Google’s customers presented with an explanation that some of the impressions could be part of Google Instant operation, with extremely low probability to be clicked? I did not find such information on Google’s ad system myself, but it is possible it exists in some form.

If one of the answers above is YES, then the Google Ad system is still not off the hook. This is because of the CTR problem, which will be lower with Google Instant than without it. But we can no longer call this problem a deception. However, it stands to reason that if both of the answers above is NO, then this is a deception.

I checked the Internet to see if this problem had ever been addressed, and yes,  in fact it has. One blog (http://www.realwebmarket.com/blog/tag/ctr-decrease/) explains this issue focused on its effect on the CTR. The fact that the issue was already published on blogs provoked me further. It told me that the answers to both questions above are most likely “NO”. I was sad to see how people are taking an “accepting” position and trying to offer some Micky-Mouse solutions.

It is not my personal interest to find flaws in Google, I just stumbled upon it, and was astonished with the degree of disrespect Google has developed over the years for their core clientele, who are the bread and butter of Google. With this mentality in place, I would not be surprised to see some class-action suit against Google down the road. I strongly recommend that Google takes this issue seriously and finds a remedy showing their fairness. Here is the simplest solution:

PUT A TIMER ON THE SEARCH RESULT PAGE. IF EXPOSURE IS LOWER THAN, SAY 5 SECONDS, DO NOT COUNT THIS AS AN IMPRESSION.

Photo credit: Google time versus money mashup – courtesy © fontriel and © Michael FlippoFotolia. 

Note: The opinions expressed in this article are the views of the author, and not necessarily the views of Search Engine Journal, its staff, or its partners.

Source: http://www.searchenginejournal.com/google-ad-system-flaw/56432/

Advanced Search Operator Tactics

search-operator

Advanced search commands are the cornerstone of “good, old-fashioned SEO.” By that, I mean the art of doing SEO stripped down, without tons of tools.

In a world that is saturated with SEO software solutions, advanced search commands are the man vs. wild of the search world. If you gain a better understanding of advanced search commands, you will definitely become a lot more resourceful when doing down-and-dirty site auditing, link prospecting, and competitor analysis.

Before we get into it, a short disclaimer: there are so many ways to use these advanced search commands that one could easily write a whole book on it – or at least a novella.

Also, if you’re using these search commands in another awesome way that I fail to mention, pleasedo leave a comment. I love discovering new ways to use advanced search commands, as do SEW’s readers!

With all that said, let’s explore the most awesome advanced search operators for Google and Bing and how to use them.

Cornerstone of Any Search Command SEO: Google Commands

Site:

Where Else You Can Use It: Google, Bing, Blekko [/site], Yandex, Baidu
*note:site:may behave slightly differently in those engines

Definition: Adding site: to your query will restrict the search results to the domain you’ve specified. [site:example.com]

How to Be Awesome With It: You can scan indexed URLs to get an idea of information architecture, potential duplicate content issues, and get an idea of overall number of pages indexed.

Pro Tip: Combine Site: with inurl: or allinurl: [may not work in all search engines] to analyze specific sections of a site. How big is the blog of a competitor site relative to the approximate total pages indexed? How many of those sort pages without are indexed? How many paginated pages are indexed? How many session ID pages are getting indexed? [site:example.com inurl:sort=price]. Are those pesky non-www. versions of pages getting indexed. Any time you want to analyze content within a site, the site: command is a very robust tool to have in your toolkit.

Related:

Where Else You Can Use It: Blekko [/similar]

Definition: When you use the related command, Google will return webpages that are similar to the webpage you’ve specified. [related:example.com]

How to Be Awesome With It: The related command has been used to find out the “neighborhood” of backlinks. However, keep in mind that there has been debate over the years on how accurate this command is for Google specifically.

Intitle: and Allintitle:

Where Else You Can Use Them: Bing, Yandex, Baidu, DuckDuckGo

Definition intitle: When you use the query in title:, Google restricts the documents it returns to those containing the term you included in the title. [intitle:keyword]

allintitle: When you use allintitle:, Google restricts results to those that contain the keyword that you specified in the title. So if you search [internet marketing] google will only fetch documents that contain the keywords ”internet” and “marketing” in the title. Notice the addition of the conjunction. [allintitle:keyword phrase]

How to Be Awesome With It: This command can be combined with a site: command to help identify templated, thin or duplicate pages by just identifying a part of the title that appears across the thin pages and searching for it. You will see about how many of those types of pages Google has indexed.

wildcard(*)

Definition: wildcard(*) to search for terms separated by 1-5 words
[internet * marketing] or [“internet * marketing”]

How to Be Awesome With It: The commands mentioned above are a great way to find articles about specific topics to build a potential list of prospects to market to. Keep in mind, though, that although these are powerful commands, they’re only as good as the searcher who is performing them is clever.

Honorable Mentions

Google Reverse Image Search

While this isn’t an advanced search command, it is so cool! Just click the little camera in the Google image search bar and you can query an image link or a local file and it tells you all the places where your image has been found. If you’re an image heavy site, you can easily reach out to websites that have snagged your images and ask them for a citation back to your site. It’s also fun to see just how image content travels.

Google Verbatim

Again, this isn’t a search command, but Google Verbatim allows you to search using the exact keyword you typed, so no spelling corrections, no replacing words with synonyms, and no words with the same stem, or personalization. Verbatim gives you search rankings without the preservatives. To get to verbatim from a Google SERP, click on Search tools, then you’ll find it in the All Results sub-menu.

New And Shiny: Bing Search Commands

Linkfromdomain:

Definition: Returns the pages that are linked-to from a domain.

How To Be Awesome With It: This command can be used to explore check the link neighborhood for a site or for finding prospective sites to connect to for promotional purposes.

IP:

Definition: This command returns originating results from websites or subdomains for the provided IP address. Another thing to note about this command is that prefix-matching is also possible with it, so ip:89 returns the site IP:89.356.567.76 if it’s in Bing’s index.

How To Be Awesome With It: This command can be used when you’re trying to map out a possible link network that may live on the same IP for competitor research or backlink removal projects.

url:

Definition: url: command tells you if a given URL is in Bing’s index.

How To Be Awesome with It: This command is similar to the Google cache: command. The url: command is a useful one to run to identify if a particular page is indexed in bing or not. This is helpful for diagnosing if you’re having a crawling issue in Bing beyond just using Bing Webmaster Tools.

Domain:

Definition: The Domain: command limits results to the domain that is specified. This command also returns any suffix matches. The big difference between the domain command and the site: command is that site: searches up to two levels only. Also, keep in mind that IP cannot be used with this command.

Tips For Bing Advanced Search Commands

Bing Meta Operators

Definition: A meta operator is an operator that is used with other operators. Takes a simple list as a parameter and returns results based on that. One example of this in Bing is keyword:(intitle inbody)software. The output of this command would translate roughly as intitle:software orinbody:software.

How To Be Awesome With It: When you’re trying to find a type of content with great precision, this is very helpful.

Other Fun Bing Commands for Geeks

Subtle Differences contains: and filetype: in Bing

The contains: operator returns pages that link to other documents and multimedia like music, video, PDF, and so on. Conversely, “filetype:” returns pages that created in the format that is specified, returning .pdf documents, if you specific filetype:pdf.

Understanding words surrounding a given keyword using near:

The near: operator searches for a specific keyword that is within range of another word. Bing documentation gives the example of foo near:10 bar explaining it as, “Ordering is considered in ranking. Thus, in this example, pages that contain bar ten words or less after foo would receive a greater boost in rank than pages in which foo appears ten words or less after bar. However, depending on the rest of the query, this does not necessarily mean that the former would be ranked higher than the latter.”

Blekko Fun SEO Slashtags

Although Blekko SEO data is no longer free to the masses, here are a couple cool slashtags that I have had fun playing with.

/links

Definition: Lets you see the links to a site.

/sitepages

Definition: Lets you check the popularity of internal pages of a site.

/domanduptext./duptext

Definitions: These commands displays URLs that have content that is the same as that of the website you are looking at. This lets you quickly check for content theft.

Other Great Resources To Check Out

Offical Documentation

Some Interesting Articles

Moment of Zen

Image Credit: 123RF Stock Photos

Source: http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2229574/Advanced-Search-Operator-Tactics

Why I Love Google Panda (and you should, too)

“Panda” has become kind of a dirty word among SEOs. Tweet about a trip to the zoo or a cuddly stuffed animal, and you’re bound to get a tweet back saying, “Ugh, don’t say panda, I’m still traumatized.” My response to this reaction is twofold:

Reaction 1: Whatever, you guys. I still love pandas.

I mean, look at this guy:

 

Reaction 2: Whatever, you guys. I love Google Panda.

The hell you say?

Yes, that’s right. I’m kind of a fan of Google Panda. Why? Because in addition to being an SEO, I’m also a Google user. I use Google multiple times every single day; everything from topics I’m researching for work, to the menu of the place I’m going for dinner (WHY PDF WHY?), to a variety of queries that start with “can dogs eat.” And back in 2010, Google started to suck.

An embarrassing anecdote

During the 2010 holiday season, I went out and got myself my very own, non-plastic, real live Christmas tree for the first time. Unbeknownst to me, that tree came with a very special Christmas gift just for me: fleas. My apartment got fleas like your great-aunt’s cat Mr. Mittens. It was bad, people. And it being the holiday season, I was pretty strapped for cash. What I wanted was a way to get rid of the little bastards myself, without calling an exterminator or spraying my apartment with poison. So what did I do? I turned to Google.

Here’s what I found: pages and pages of articles titled “How to Get Rid of Fleas” that were all meaningless, thin-content paragraphs riddled with links to exterminator services. Not just one or two, but multiple searches resulted in a SERP full of this garbage. It was only after a fair amount of digging that I was able to find the solution (vacuum alllllll of the things really thoroughly, seal your clothes/bedding in a plastic bag for a day or two and then wash them in super-hot water) I was looking for.

Lately, I’ve been speaking to some college classes on SEO and when I start to talk about Panda, I ask if they remember a time when it seemed like every search they did turned up shallow, worthless results that seemed to talk about what they wanted, but didn’t actually provide any answers. And you know what? They all remember, and they all agree that SERPs have improved significantly since then.

The Panda update was an upsetting, stressful time for SEOs and business owners alike. It was far from perfect; a lot of perfectly good content got knocked out with the bad, and a lot of innocent (i.e. non-black-hat) websites were affected. But it ultimately did make a lot of SERPs better, returning more trustworthy information that is more relevant to the query.

Take a look at the SERP for “How to Get Rid of Fleas” today. It still has a ton of results from sites like eHow and Instructables, which are sites that we might typically associate with having been hit by Panda. The difference is that now, those pages actually contain information on how to get rid of fleas. Additionally, there are results from highly reputable sources like the ASPCA, adding a measure of trust.

Panda was intended to make sure that when people Google something they can actually find it. On that measure, I’d say it succeeded more than it failed.

Bad panda

“But Ruth,” I hear you say. “You should know as well as anybody that innocent businesses were affected by Panda. People lost a lot of business.”

bad panda

I know, and I kind of blame Google for that. They told us that the best way to rank was to have content on every page. No matter how many times they told us “create content for users, not search engines,” by also telling us to have content on all the pages, they were effectively saying “create content for search engines.” Small businesses often don’t have the resources to create the kind of consistent, deep, relevant content that Google really wants. I can see why creating a bunch of keyword-rich but otherwise meaningless content might have seemed like the next best thing. I can only imagine how frustrating and scary it was for businesses to have their pages wiped from the SERPs in Panda’s wake, and I KNOW how frustrating it was for SEOs to try to help those once-burned, twice-shy businesses get back into Google’s good graces.

How Google makes money

Google makes money because Google has gigantic market share. They can charge advertisers more because they have the biggest pool of potential ad impressions and clicks to sell. This means Google has a complete interest in ensuring that when people search for things, they find exactly what they’re looking for. That’s it. Google does not care whether or not they foster small or local business growth in the U.S. and abroad. They only care about serving up the most relevant results they can to as many people as they can, so everyone keeps using Google.

Like I said, Panda wasn’t perfect, but it did make a big difference in SERP relevance to a lot of queries. The other side of Google’s gigantic market share, however, is that many businesses need some kind of presence on Google to succeed. We owe it to our clients – nay, we owe it to the Internet itself – to help them actually create relevant resources for users who search on their keywords. In addition to pleasing Google, you may convince some of those people to buy something.

It also means that we should make sure our clients invest in diverse sources of traffic. If a site has more than 50% of its traffic coming from Google, that leaves you pretty vulnerable to changes in Google’s algorithm.

Finally, it’s more important than ever to help businesses of all sizes – even those who can’t afford SEO – market themselves online, the right way. I’m so excited that SEOmoz is working with GetListed now. I’m hoping that with increased access to resources to market themselves online, small and local businesses can start knocking content farms out of the SERPs. I’m also hoping that future updates like Panda – designed to keep quality in the SERPs – will be less dangerous to small and local businesses,because they’ll know more about what to do and what not to do.

I’m also hoping we can go back to thinking “D’AWWWWWW” instead of “D’OH!” when we see a cuddly guy like this one:

cute panda

Top 1 SEO Tips for 2013

If we’ve learned anything in 2012, it’s that Google isn’t letting up on low-value tactics. We’ve had the Penguin update13 Panda updates (so many that we needed a new naming scheme), and a crackdown on low-qualityExact Match Domains (EMDs), to name just a few. While I can’t tell you Google’s next move, I can tell you one thing with absolute certainty – there’s more to come. So, how can you protect what you’ve built in 2013?

I was going to write a long list of suggestions, but I realized that they almost all boiled down to just one idea. I’m not going to toy with you – my top tip for 2013 SEO is this:

1. DIVERSIFY

If at any point in 2012 you asked “What’s the best [X] for SEO?” (link-building tactic, tag, directory, etc.), you’re already in trouble. Any single-tactic approach is short-term at best. Real companies, real link profiles, and real marketing are rich with variety.

So, what does that mean, practically? I’m going to cheat a bit and split my one tip into five kinds of diversity that I think are critical to your SEO success in the coming years.

1A. Diversify Anchor Text

Let’s start with an easy one. We’ve all known for a while that overly aggressive inbound link anchor text was pushing the envelope, and the Penguin Update definitely reinforced that message. If every link to your site reads “buy best Viagra cheap Viagra today!”, it might as well read “spam spam spammity spam,” especially if it’s in a sentence like:

If you’re looking for the best price on the new iPad and iPad cases, thenbuy best Viagra cheap Viagra today! and get a free bag of Acai berries.

It’s not natural, and you know it. What’s the best way to make your anchor text seem “natural?” Stop obsessing over it. Yes, anchor text is a signal, but any solid link profile is going to naturally use relevant text and appear in the context of relevant text. If you want to tweak the text on some of your high-authority links, go for it, but I wouldn’t break out the spreadsheets in 2013.

1B. Diversify Your Links

Are guest posts the one true answer to all of life’s questions or are they a scourge on our fragile earth? To read the SEO blogosphere in 2012, it’s hard to tell. Any link-building tactic can be low quality, if you abuse it. The problem is that someone reads a tip about how guest posts make good links and then they run off and publish the same slapped-together junk on 15,000 sites. Then they wonder why their rankings dropped.

Nothing screams manual link-building like a profile that’s built with only one tactic, especially if that tactic is too easy. At best, you’re eventually going to be doomed to diminishing returns. So, take a hard look at where your links came from in 2012 and consider trying something new next year. Diversify your profile, and you’ll diversify your risk.

1C. Diversify Traffic Sources

There’s an 800-lb. Gorilla in the room, and we’re all writing more SEO blog posts to avoid talking about it. Most of us are far too dependent on Google for traffic. What would you do if something changed overnight? I know some of you will object  – “But ALL my tactics are white-hat and I follow the rules!” Assuming that you understood the rules 100% accurately and really followed them to the letter, what if they changed?

The more I follow the Algorithm, the more I realize that the changing search UI and feature landscape may be even more important than the core algorithm itself. What happens if your competitor suddenly gets site-links, or you’re #8 on a SERP that drops to only 7 results, or everyone gets video snippets and you have no videos, or your niche shifts to paid inclusion and you can’t afford to pay? Even if you’ve followed the rules, your traffic could drop on a moment’s notice.

You need to think beyond Google. I know it’s tough, and it’s going to take time and money, but if you’re dependent on Google for your livelihood, then your livelihood is at serious risk.

1D. Diversify Your Marketing

There’s been a very positive trend this year toward thinking about marketing much more broadly – not as a tactic to trick people into liking you, but as the natural extension of building a better mousetrap. I think this is at the heart of RCS (not to put words in Wil’s mouth) – if you do something amazing and you believe in it, everything you do is marketing. If you build crap and you know it’s crap, then marketing is sleight of hand that you hope to pull on the unsuspecting. You might score twenty bucks by stealing my wallet, but you’re not going to gain a customer for life.

Stop taking shortcuts and make a real resolution in 2013 to think hard about what you do and why it has value. If you understand your value proposition, content and marketing naturally flow out of that. Talk to people outside of the SEO and marketing teams. Find out what your company does that’s unique, exciting, and resonates with customers.

1E. Diversify Your Point Of View

I recently had the pleasure to finally see Michael Dorausch (a chiropractor and well-known figure in the local SEO community) speak. Dr. Mike arrived in Tampa for BlueGlassX and built his presentation from the ground up, using photography to tell stories about the neighborhood and local history. It’s hard to explain in a few sentences, but what amazed me was just how many ideas for unique and original content he was able to find in less than 48 hours, just by having a fresh perspective and passion for the subject. I’d like to say I was inspired by the presentation, but to be totally honest, I think the emotion was embarrassment. I was embarrassed that he was able to generate so many ideas so quickly, just by coming at the problem with the right attitude.

In 2013, if you tell me your industry is “boring,” be warned – I’m going to smack you. If you’re bored by what you do, how do you think your prospects and customers will feel? Step out – have someone give you a tour of your office like you’ve never been there. Visit your home city like you’re a tourist coming there for the first time. Get five regular people to walk through your website and try to buy something (if you don’t have five normal friends, use a service like UserTesting.com). The New Year is the perfect time for a fresh perspective.

Source: http://www.seomoz.org/blog/top-1-seo-tips-for-2013