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My geeky tattoo – the original Google PageRank equation

I’ve posted it on Twitter, but I thought it deserved a post all of its own!

I have 3 tattoos, a Celtic dragon on my left arm, a large pinup on my right shoulder, but I decided I wanted a new one, something that showed my love of my profession, and my extremely geeky side.

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Is there too much content on the web??

This post is pretty much a meandering thought rather than a firm conclusion.

With the shift of late in our industry to look at content marketing, the idea of creating something cool, that will be shared or linked to, or a guest blog post to gain a backlink, it’s started me wondering whether we have too much content on the web and whether the best way to market for our clients is to create yet more of it.

I would say that 1 in 100 sites is actually good, and in that 1 site, probably 1 in 10 articles is actually worth reading. Probably 1 in 10,000 sites is truly exceptional and has truly exceptional content (and no, I don’t consider my search marketing related rants to be one of them)

We have multiple sites giving us the same content, writing essentially the same article over and over and over. We dress it up in new ways, but it comes down to the same familiar themes and the same familiar conclusions.

Good examples of this are the:

  • SEO Is Dead
  • Social is the new search
  • shares and the new links

etc etc etc, blah blah blah yawn yawn yawn.

So, when there is so much similar content on the web, similar infographics, similar articles, similar conclusions, similar websites and if only 1% of articles are actually worth reading, you have to start wondering whether it is truly the quality of your content that drives it’s popularity, or essentially the public relations job done by the site to set themselves up as the authority, the site that is worth reading to the exclusion of all the others writing the same articles.

Is your SEO is dead article better than the 176,000 articles that came before it and asked the same question and gave the same answer? (based upon a Google exact match search for the term “SEO is dead”

So what gives a site this edge, makes it the one to read, even if they’re later breaking news than other sites etc…

I’ll say this, off the top of my head, it’s unlikely to be the quality of the written content.

For our industry, I would put the following as reasons:

  1. The site’s personality
    A site that becomes a personality in itself is likely to be read as a matter of course.
  2. The author’s personality and social equity
    Are any of the “SEO rockstars” (hideous term) associated with the site, if so, this is going to help the content spread.
  3. The community behind the site
    Does the site have an active community that  slavishly shares and links to everything written on the site?

The “best” sites in our industry of course, have all 3.

Is the quality of the written content going to help a shopping site?

Of course I have sites that I like, we all do, and we see something and think “Hey, that looks cool” such as Hipmunk or Modcloth and we talk about it in our industry as good examples, but when it comes down to it, unless you’re looking for a particularly bespoke or rare item, the main driver of most online shoppers is price and convenience, not a well tended blog!

With so many price search sites out there my main drivers to visit a website would be:

  1. Is it the cheapest?
  2. Are there any vouchers available that will make it cheaper?
  3. Can I go through quidco and get a percentage of my cash back making it even cheaper?
  4. Does the site look legit? Or does it look like a crappy affiliate site.
  5. How quickly can it be delivered without huge delivery prices?
  6. How easily can I return it if it’s shit?

I might go and look at items on other “prettier” sites when deciding what I want to purchase and read your carefully curated reviews, or view your product videos, but when it comes to the actual purchase process, my thinking is particularly linear and is purely price driven and I don’t particularly care if a site has nice videos showing the item. If they’re not the cheapest with the best customer service record, they’re not getting my custom!

We’re told over and over in our industry (and I’ve said it before as well) that “Content is King”, but that’s only partly true, you can have the best content in the world, but if nobody’s reading it, or even reading it viewing your videos etc, but then not buying from your site then I hate to say it, but your content is failing.

Look perhaps less at writing yet another blog entry of how satchels are in this year, or creating yet more video and look at converting the traffic you’re bringing in. Look to optimise your conversion process, unless you’re selling bespoke luxury items, work to keep your prices as low as possible.

Quality content is important, but in a world where everyone is spewing out “quality” content,  perhaps it’s time to concentrate your efforts elsewhere. Good brand, good customer service, low prices, good community loving your site, and you pretty much can’t go wrong.

#SMWF – Cultivating Visibility & Google+ for Business: How Google’s Social Network Changes Everything

Looking forward to this, however as someone who keeps an eye on Google, I’m very skeptical about Google+ but lets see what’s said!

Details say:

  • Understand how “visibility” translates to the buying cycle and what it comprises.
  • Shake off social networking fatigue: Google+ will give your business prospects tremendous impetus
  • Build a robust profile that grows your business
  • Create useful content that grabs attention and draws reactions that build loyalty
  • Fit Google+ into a larger strategy of amplifying the human digital channel
  • Build a content strategy: Deliver value to audiences and win more customers

but lets see! Continue reading

90% of quality links are paid links…full stop

I’ve been thinking which is always a dangerous things to do and I’ve come to an earth shattering conclusion….

90% of quality incoming links are paid links.

Let me explain. Back in the olden days when Google was starting out and it first started looking at the linkscape, I would say that 95% of the links coming to any site were completely natural which was why Google’s algo worked so well. People did things for the love of doing them, created content for the love of it. Someone came across it, thought “hey, that’s cool” and linked to it. What a great idea and what a lovely innocent time.

Fast forward to 2011 and what I’ve realised is that the linkscape that affects people’s rankings now is 90% bought. I’m not talking in the somewhat callous “Here is £300 for a link on your mozrank 8 website homepage” although obviously that can be a very effective way of link building for some but if you consider the amount of time and money that goes into proper outreach and link building. Continue reading

Incoming links from spammy websites can harm your rankings. #seo

There’s a lot of talk on the internet that you are judged by the company you keep, the concept of being involved in a bad neighbourhood would harm your rankings, may even get you banned from Google. There’s talk of roving gangs of marauding black hat SEO’s threatening to Googlebowl your site by linking to it from thousands or millions of bad neighbourhoods. So the question is, is this a truth or a myth, can other people harm your website simply by linking to it? Continue reading

Using dynamic keywords in Google Adwords landing pages to increase clickthrough, quality score and reduce CPC.

Now, before I start this post, let me make it perfectly clear. I am not a PPC expert, I am through and through an Organic SEO but occasionally I end up setting up the odd PPC campaign or two and I think this is probably one of the coolest things you can do with adwords so I thought I’d share.

It’s possible to create dynamic Google adverts containing your keywords, this is fairly common knowledge but let’s go over it just so we all know we’re on the same page.

The syntax for Google AdWords Dynamic Keyword Insertion is {keyword: }

You can also use the following capitalisation on the work ‘keyword’ to get different effects:

  • keyword – no capitalisation
  • Keyword – First word is capitalised
  • KeyWord – Every Word Is Capitalised
  • KEYword – EVERY letter in first word is capitalised
  • KEYWord – LIKE Above But With Each Word Capitalised

Make sure you put a generic “catch all” phrase after the : so make sure it shows something if your keyword string is too long for example {keyword:Jim Is Awesome}.

Now, here’s the very clever part and what separates the PPC men from the boys or the PPC Women from the girls.

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Having a #sitemap and submitting it to #Google improves your #rankings

I received a tweet this morning from @neha_pandkar from a link to a blog telling me how to submit a sitemap to Google and learn about SEO, I’ve never heard of this person and looking at his twitter feed, he’s sent the same tweet to multiple people so I’m imagining it’s automated.

The blog in question has made it onto my list of world’s worst SEO blogs, a short article on how to log into Google webmaster tools (YAWN) and submit a sitemap surrounded by lots of advertising but it’s this wonderful opportunity to look at another in my myths and legends series. Google sitemaps come up a lot so does having a Google sitemap and submitting it to Google do anything to increase your rankings.

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Your Organic #Google Rankings are influenced by how much you spend on #PPC

If I got paid every time someone asks me this question. Oh wait…I do, but let’s talk about it anyway. Here’s how it goes.

People think:

  • Google wants people to spend more on PPC, and so depress people who spend in the organic rankings so they spend more
  • Google like to reward their high paying PPC customers so give them an artificial boost in the organic rankings
Well, what do we think people, truth or myth?? Continue reading

Buying paid links can harm your #rankings

Ah, the age old debate of whether to pay for links or not. It’s an interesting debate, according to Google, you shouldn’t pay for links in order to artificially manipulate the serps or your page’s PageRank. This produces the idea that you will be penalised if you do it and dropped out of Google, or some sort of penalty applied if you do this. So what do people think, is this a myth or is it truth. Can buying links harm your rankings? Continue reading

#Metatags are vital to your ranking

Anybody who’s been in the SEO industry for any period of time knows all about meta tags. Back in the early days, they were helpful for the search engines when the spiders and algorithms weren’t as advanced, to work out what a page was about. Search engines figured that if a site used a term in it’s description or keywords tag, then that was what the page was about. There’s no way that people would be dishonest and stuff keywords in there….was there???

And yes, that’s exactly what happened, so that’s why these days, it’s a big stinking myth, or should I say it’s outdated and the search engines have moved on. Obviously there are piles and piles of meta tags which will add value to a page beyond affecting your rankings so I’m not poo pooing meta tags completely. Continue reading