Google Local Reviews

So this is how Google is trying to get more people familiar with their local business reviews product, and compete with Yelp; at popular events for the San Francisco Hipsters you might see a team hired by Google trying to convince people to try out the product. They actually expect you to review a couple of local businesses right there on one of the laptops. Just to make you familiar with the product. And what do you get for all the data you just entered and the time you spent, right.. a T-shirt.

 

 Google local reviews, trade a tshirt in exchange for your time and local knowledge

Google local reviews, trade a t-shirt in exchange for your time and local knowledge, write some reviews on local businesses and learn how the system works

Penguin Updates, Bring IT ON

With a lot of chatter on Twitter, it's probably safe to say that we are on track to see a large update hitting the search results just in time for the annual SMX Advanced in Seattle (from the chatter, it's most likely going to be a Penguin update). Like clockwork, Google gives the SEO's something to talk about, and since this is the advanced version of the SEO/SEM conference, it's a big update. Apart from all the discussions on the version number, it's incredible to see how SEO's stumble over each other to write "the news" what Matt Cutts have said online, and what you could expect from the next update.

Matt Cutts fro Google Tweets about Penguin 2.0

 

SEO's across the world are loosing their heads, and take the words of Matt Cutts all as a mantra. They shiver in fear on how the wrath of The Google might come down on their site, causing all kinds of trouble. But as my buddy Ryan ranted already:

We need to stop analyzing every word @mattcutts says like it’s some lost scripture and start paying attention to the meaning of what he says....

...

Remember when Matt said that Page Speed was a “all else being equal we’ll return the faster site” type of factor? That fits perfectly with the tree and dynamic weights I just talked about.

Instead of looking at the big picture, the meaning, and the reasoning behind what Matt says, we get too caught up on the literal definitions. It’s the equivalent of thinking David and Goliath is a story about how there are giants in the world rather than a story about how man’s use of technology helps him overcome challenges and sets him apart from beasts. We keep taking the wrong message because we’re too literal.

 

But I think some website owners should be afraid of what's coming down the pipeline, because if your site back-link profile looks like this, it might still works at the moment, but for how long...?


Does this look like a Penguin back link profile?

 

The funny thing is, the linking this site has done, still works like crazy. Check the sites visibility in search using the tool from Search Metrics. As you can see, the X-axes are not corresponding on the same timeframe, however, you can clearly see the search visibility of this site increased with the large jump in back-links in January of this year.

searchvisibility-spam

The next Penguin update will be larger than the previous ones. Next Penguin update will be a larger one than just a data refresh

Next Penguin update will be a larger one than just a data refresh

 

So, if you are already getting a ton of link removal requests, expect your inbox to show a flooding of new link removal requests rather sooner than later! Will you comply with the request, or have the requestor take more aggressive steps, like legal threads and stuff. I've heard of some very aggressive take down requests, even with authoritative domains. So far, I've received only one take down request, but have not taken the link down, since it was purely editorial. If the webmaster has screwed up their own link profile by being way to aggressive, that would be their problem. So I stand by Kim here, No I Will NOT respond to your disavow link paranoia. Bug off! 

So bring it on.. I'm ready for another Penguin update!

Black & White Penguin with a red bow tie

 

Planning a Content Marketing with In-Page Analytics?

With the launch of a new city in the Neighborhood projectLos AngelesAirbnb just launched the largest number of city Neighborhoods so far, 61. I really enjoyed day dreaming with the great pictures of Neighborhoods like MalibuSanta MonicaVenice or Hollywood. Maybe one day we will have the chance to move and live in Los Angeles, which has always been a secret dream for me. But then again, San Francisco is also not too shabby! I love walking around in the Richmond District, and get a sense of the Asian, Russian mixture of the Neighborhood and make great street pictures.

Another dream home town for me has been New York. Maybe a little bid too much out of our league, as living in a Neighborhood like TribecaSoHo or West Village with 3 kids is just very difficult. Let alone we would ever be able to afford a Townhouse at the Upper West Side! Brooklyn seems to become the new hot spot in New York, especially as the New York Times just published an article on how Hispters are taking over Neighborhoods like Williamsburg, or how they call it Will.I.Amsburg. But enough for the dreams I might have when winning the lottery, what I thought would be interesting to talk about what to search for or to look at for you as a marketeer to plan a content calendar for the pages you have on your site. To conduct this research, I'm using the following tool:

  • Google Analytics; with the in-page analytics reporting

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How To Use In-Page Analytics To Direct Your Content Marketing

In page analytics are an often overlooked tool for conducting user research, and a great way to get new topics to write more on. And the best thing is, your users already told you those topics are the ones they are interested in! From the Google help document (underline and red mine)

In-Page Analytics is available under the Content section on the Standard Reporting tab. It lets you make a visual assessment of how users interact with your web pages

So looking at which Neighborhoods  in New York we would need to write more about, I pulled up the In-Page analytics on the New York Neighborhood page, and used the Color bubbles to showcase popular Neighborhoods based on what the users have clicked on.

Neighborhood heatmap

Where the colors give the scale of popularity relative to each other. This means, the warmer the color, the more clicks the link got in the time period I checked (data was for the month of April).

What stands out, is that there is one Neighborhood in particular popular, and the only one which gets a red color: Upper East Side. Some Neighborhoods didn't even got a color, so it's safe to say, these are the least well known, or not so popular neighborhoods in New York; these are:

Honestly, I never heard of these either, except for the name civic center, which we have here Civic Center in San Francisco as well.

Popular New York Neighborhoods Stacked Up

So pulling all the New York Neighborhoods in a spreadsheet, and making a bar chart of the results, it shows how all the Neighborhoods stack up on popularity:

Popular New York City Neighborhoods stacked up

 

Now it's only a matter of creating a massage map per Neighborhood and research the topics before the editor can start writing.

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You can access the report in Google Analytics in two ways:

  • In Standard Reporting > Content, click In-Page Analytics.
    This option opens the report on the page you identified in your profile settings.
  • In the Pages report (Standard Reporting > Content > Site Content > Pages), when you drill in to a specific page, click the In-Page tab.
    This option opens the report for that page.

Airbnb Blog Running on WordPress, Genesis & Websynthesis

With Posterous closing, a race started a couple of weeks ago to move the Airbnb blogs from Posterous to WordPress. Lucky me, I have a number of years experience with WordPress, and more lucky me, I know people who even have more experience with WordPress and WordPress hosting. The Airbnb blogs are now running on the following stack:

teach them young So yesterday evening, I was busy checking all the migrations with my little man with me. Teach them young they say..

Just in time for our major Trust announcement this morning. Now, all we need to do, is create a new child theme, so that we can style the blogs completely according to Airbnb standards... So much opportunity to expand right now, having full control! Love it!

Other blog we migrated is the Nerds at Airbnb! Worth it to check out if you are into coding

#TornadoWeek Hashtag Pushing

Check out this creative way of getting people to engage with your brand on Twitter.
The Weather channel is having their Tornado week.
And now you can make the interns suffer from high winds.
The only thing you would need to do, is tweet with the hashtag #tornadoweek in your tweet
I can't wait for Shark week... But then again, that would entail the interns of Animal Channel
Check out the site on the Weather channel. Can we call this: Tornado Week Intern Blow Out
Tornado Week Intern Blow Out
From the site:
Our Weather Channel interns got so excited about Tornado Week they wanted to recreate a Twitter powered Tornado in our office - so we did, and sat them right in the middle of it! Now you are in control of the winds. Every public mention of#TornadoWeek on Twitter raises the scale and boosts the winds. You can even Tweet at the interns using the @TornadoWeekhandle. Hit 1,000,000 mentions and we will turn up the wind for a full blown EF-5 tornado inside the Weather Channel offices!

Always Be Linking, Especially with Students

Always be LinkingOne thing I'm trying to learn fast, as this is a big black spot in my SEO skillset; Link Building. First rule of Link Building: ABL

Always Be Linking ABL

Tweet this quote:

Take up every opportunity to gain a true endorsement in the form of a link. And what better opportunity to get a new backlink than when a group of MBA students from Berkeley get a tour in your office, and you just happen to have your DSLR, with an awesome lens on it with you! Snap a couple of grou pictures and start chatting...

Me: "So, did you like the tour..?"

Group lead: "We sure did, we are a bunch of MBA students from the Haas Business School in Berkeley"

Me: "Is that right..?"

Group lead: "Hey, any chance we can get a hold of those pictures you just took of us?"

Me: "Yeah, sure where would you post it"

Group: "We have a Facebook page..."

Me: "Don't you have some sort of journal on the Berkeley.edu website"

Group lead: "Sure, we can add it to our newsletter, which is published online"

Me: Bingo..!! "Great, I will send you the file, would you mind giving me a credit link in it"

Group lead: "Sure, no problem man..!"

Me: "Thank you, and I hope you guys had fun here in the office..."

So, here you can download a large version of the picture. Now I hope they will follow through...

Instagram SEO, This is How You Boost SEO Traffic Through Instagram

Say what Instagram SEO?, Yes you can use Instagram to boost your SEO traffic. However, not in the traditional way of boosting your SEO rankings or visibility, but in a much smarter way; boost the search volume of your #1 rankings! Let me explain;

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 I'm Topsy Turvy

Two years ago, I spoke at a conference called EVO, the evolution of women in social media. I got the opportunity to help a bunch of successful bloggers refining their SEO strategy. The workshop I did, ended up being 3.5 hours, just 30 minutes over the planned time. It was a great session, as all the attendees were sucking up the information we as SEO's live on a daily basis.

Here is where I met Ashlee from I'm Topsy Turvy. Ashlee has been blogging for a 6 years now, and decorating cakes for over 7 years. Guess what she is blogging about, right, cake tutorials. And not easy, simple cakes! No, these are works of art! Check out the following cakes I spotted on her website:

Over the course of the last two years, I interacted with Ashlee a couple of times on Twitter, we met again on different conferences, and I interviewed her to speak about the success she had seen on her blog. Over the last two years, the traffic to her site has exploded. I wish I could take some credit for it with the SEO workshop, but fair to say is that Ashlee creates truly exceptional content, and makes magnificent cakes for people to celebrate birthdays, weddings or anniversaries.

Where I hope I have played a role in her success, is creating a certain mindset on how to market this exceptional content, and put it to work towards her business. If we talk about a long term strategy that works for SEO using content like cake tutorials, you would need to think about how you are able to get your content in front of the right people, so that they will link to it, place citations in other media, and use you as an example for successful ideas. (see this post!)

As SEO's we often only focus on getting more, pages in the index, and rank higher with these pages to capture the existing traffic. But what if you would be able to stimulate more people to search for a certain phrase. What if you know you already rank #1 on that phrase? Than you don't need to worry anymore about your rankings, you can just reap the benefits from the increase in traffic, as more people search for your #1 keyword phrase.

Pot Of Gold Cake Tutorial

Imagine my surprise when I opened my Instagram stream last Sunday, and the evidence of genius was staring me right in the face. Her I saw a picture of one of Ashlee's cakes innocently shared on her Instagram stream. And not some ordinary cake, it was a Pot of Gold Cake.

Using Instagram as an SEO traffic booster

Let me explain why this is genius:

  • Ashlee wrote a tutorial on how to make a Pot of Gold Cake. She published the tutorial on February 27th. Weeks before St. Patricks day is actually happening. This means the post has enough time to start to rank, and be the first one for people to find if they are searching for inspiration on what cake to make for St. Patricks day. 
  • Apart from using the normal social media channels to market this tutorial, Ashlee also uploaded pictures of the cake onto Instagram, where she made sure these have her logo watermark in the right corner.
  • But here comes the kicker: Ashlee also added the title of her tutorial as text on the picture being shared on Instagram. As Instagram does not allow you to add a link in the description, this is a great way to get people's attention. And what do you think people will search when they would like to know how to make a Pot of Gold cake...? Right...

If you know you rank No1 for a search phrase, why not stimulate the interest, and boost the volume of searches!
If you know you rank No1 for a search phrase, why not stimulate the interest, and boost the volume of searches!
Well done Ashlee, you can count on me to use this as an example on how to use Instagram as your marketing tool to boost your SEO traffic!

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What Happened to Interflora SEO Posts

And just like that, Interflora is back in the search engines. What would it take for a mom-and-pop site to come back so quickly after being penalized? But I just wonder, where has Martin McDonald post on Interflora SEO penalty gone?

Interflora search results. No Martin McDonald anymore..? Where has this post gone? Really weird, as with all the number of links pointing to Martin's post, you would expect it to rank as high as last week still. Especially as a number of articles in the top of this search result are linking to the site from Martin.

Martin Flowers post

 

EXIF Data the Next Step in Images & Local SEO?

On a couple of my personal websites I do some testing what works or what doesn't work for SEO. If you read a couple of the Google Search Ranking Patents (mostly through the great write ups by Bill Slawski at SEO by the Sea), and experience how Google is pursuing more structured data, I tend to start thinking and looking for new ways to optimize my content so that it will rank better.

Image SEO

So, in the past, I've had some good results on my personal websites with ranking images and drive a reasonable amount of traffic. To rank images and drive some traffic, I would recommend you need to, at least, check your boxes on the following best practices;

  1. Include descriptive keywords in your filename
  2. Use a descriptive Alt Text on the image, something which best describes the scene in the image
  3. Text and headlines around the image

Additional factors which might come into play are;

  • Size of the image
  • Number of directories in the URL path

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If these last two really make a difference, I have not tested yet, but I assume short URL paths will help in higher rankings, and large images can help when people are searching for high quality images.

Image SEO domination through the One Box If you play this correctly, you could dominate the page with all four images, even ranking these above the official manufacturing website for the product through that one box integration in the SERP! See the screenshot of my 4 images of the Dell Latitude Wireless Switch.

New Image Search Layout

So apparently the new search lay out for images does have an impact on traffic to the site where the images is from. No Sh*t, that's what my gut feeling was saying to me as well as soon as when I saw the new Layout!

It has been a month and some folks are posting how the new image search design impacted their traffic from Google Image Search.

Gregory Karpinsky posted an image of the traffic to his 99% image based site in a Google+ Community thread showing an 80% plus decrease in traffic but his other engagement metrics are all up.

Why would anybody interested in the image still visit the website it was originally posted on, when you got all the information right there at the Google search result?

Why would anybody still click through to the site of an image in new Google Image search layout?

Well, those that do click on the link to the website, must be really interested in the product other than just copy the image to steal use! And with engagement metrics up, as reported by the article on SERoundtable, you have a chance here to get ultra targeted traffic which converts.

Mixing Local SEO with Images

Having done SEO for almost a decade, gives you a very strong feeling where things could go. One aspect of Image SEO, is that the determining factor for an image to rank high, is to a large extend influenced by how much information of the image you can give to the search engines. This should come in either structured data or meta data.

Luckily with the advances in digital photography, we are able to store much more information of a picture into the file of that image. Now days you can add different types of tags into the EXIF data of an image. (EXIF stands for Exchangeable Image File Data).

A couple of months ago, while researching for my hobby photography, I stumbled on a great post explaining the Exif data your camera automatically stores in the image file of your picture. Only, the one interesting tag not discussed in that post, can be found on the Wikipedia page about Exif; the Geolocation tag!

The Exif format has standard tags for location information. As of 2012 a few cameras and a growing number of mobile phones have a built-in GPS receiver that stores the location information in the Exif header when a picture is taken...The process of adding geographic information to a photograph is known as Geotagging

And look here if you research Geotagging (emphasize mine):

A geotagged photograph is a photograph which is associated with a geographical location by geotagging. Usually this is done by assigning at least a latitude and longitude to the image, and optionally altitude, compass bearing and other fields may also be included.

In theory, every part of a picture can be tied to a geographic location, but in the most typical application, only the position of the photographer is associated with the entire digital image. This has implications for search and retrieval. For example, photos of a mountain summit can be taken from different positions miles apart. To find all images of a particular summit in an image database, all photos taken within a reasonable distance must be considered.

WOAHA, it has become common knowledge that Mobile & Local are two major focus points for Google?

Prediction: You should focus on including more meta data in your images for Image SEO, which will include local data in the EXIF data!

So, based on this, I decided to do a little testing, while I'm practicing my hobby. I bought myself a Canon GPS Receiver for easy recording of Long-Lat data automatically stored into the image when I take it.

GPS receiver for easy updating long-lat data in EXIF

And with some promising results so far... Check out my pictures of the USS Hornet Aircraft Carrier Museum I took in January already ranking pretty well..!!

USS Hornet carrier pictures ranking in SERP

So far, I have no proof of the Long-Lat data in the EXIF pictures helping pictures to rank. At this moment it's just a hunch, but how easy it is with an automatic GPS receiver to add more meta tags to your pictures and be ready for the future of Image SEO with a taste of Local!

What's Next

New types of camera's can actually add even more information into the Exif data of every image. The Canon 5D MIII can add copyright data straight into the Exif information of your photo's. Guess what I've been testing with...? Right, adding the URL to my photo website

Adding copyright information into the EXIF data

More tips on how to look at SEO for future success can also be found in my write up on SEO in 2013 here.

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For simple and accurate recording of time and location information, Canon's compact GPS Receiver GP-E2 is the perfect complement to the EOS System. The GP-E2 records location information such as longitude, latitude, elevation, direction and Universal Coordinated Time (UTC) as EXIF data, while also serving as an electronic compass on camera or off.
Brand: Canon
Manufacturer: Canon
Model: GP-E2 GPS Receiver
$242.95 New

Newly designed 22.3 Megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor, 14-bit A/D conversion, wide range ISO setting 100-25600 (L:50, H1: 51200, H2: 102400) for shooting from bright to dim light and next generation DIGIC 5+ Image Processor for enhanced noise reduction and exceptional processing speed.
Brand: Canon
Manufacturer: Canon
Model: EOS 5D Mark III
$3149.00 New

Will You Integrate Google+ Sign-In?

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Google+ Sign-In functionality mimics Facebook connects, but calls Facebook sharing Social SpamWow, with Google+ Signin launching today, and the news that Google wants to launch a music subscription, Google just walked onto a new battlefield: competing with Spotify & Pandora. Here is some of the official announcement, with the emphasize mine:

Whether you’re building an app for Android, iOS or the web, users can now sign in to your app with Google, and bring along their Google+ info for an upgraded experience. It’s simple, it’s secure, and it prohibits social spam. And we’re just getting started.

From the last sentence it is clear, more is coming down the Google+ pipeline to capture more signals what users do on the web, and where they spend their time. With the FTC freeing the way for Google (official statement from FTC), I bet a large number of integrations is now ready to be launched onto the public for the big G to capture even more data and use it! It will become harder for any company to build their search presence with more Google Vertical products crowding the SERP's.

With the bundling of Google Sign-In with Google Play Services for Android Apps, the lock in is complete for a large part of the smart phone OS market. Almost all the building blocks are in place for Google's Evil plan on world domination.

And calling selective sharing with your circles a better way to share on social networks is directly pointed at Facebook, with the term social spam. Luckily there are a few people who do pick this up, and question these practices.

Sometimes you want to share something with the world (like a high score), but other times you want to keep things to yourself (like fitness goals). With Google+ Sign-In and circles you decide who to share with, if at all. In addition: Google+ doesn’t let apps spray “frictionless” updates all over the stream, so app activity will only appear when it’s relevant (like when you’re actually looking for it).

You almost start to root for Microsoft with their Scroogled campaign to level the playing field.

The Fight Against Link Spam

For years now, Google has been fighting the war against manipulative links. Paid links, Paid Advertorials, (i-)relevant Infographics, you name it. Any link which has not been given editorial, and is only there with the intention to give the linked-to page a boost in the search rankings, should be avoided.

Just recently, I received my first link take down request for a link I posted completely editorial, but was exact match anchor text. Possibly the brand got in trouble for the heavy usage of the exact match, and tried to clean it all up now.

With the SEO drama in the UK surrounding Interflora and their penalty, it is clear to me Google still hasn't figured manipulative links out yet. Especially as the left hand of the company doesn't know what the right hand is doing... Just read through more of the info on this case here and here and here. Sometimes the guidelines are just for the common man!

What is Google Going After

With the Google+ Sign-In launch, Google is obviously attacking Facebook in one more field. From experience at work, I can see how important the Facebook connect function is for any web developer. You get instant access to people's profile, and can showcase social proof for your products using people's network. With a direct integration of Google Play in the search results, Google can capture the drive by traffic immediately as people search for certain music. And the integration at the launch with Shazam & TuneIn. Services like Spotify & Pandora are under direct attack now.

But there is more Google is after. With Links being manipulated for higher search rankings, social could be a great new signal for search quality and rankings. Very smart SEO's have already pointed out the launch of Google+ Sign-In is one step closer to Agent Rank, or we should start calling it Author Rank.

(Agent Rank is actually a search engine for real estate agents. The site AgentRank.com does not longer rank high for their own term, just because Google has used the term in their patent applications, which triggered all kind of SEO blog posts using the term agent rank)

The social signal could be a blessing in disguise for Google Search Algorithm. disguised as increased competition for  existing social websites and music services there might be less scrutiny from consumers on the data capturing by every Google product.

We Live in a Google World

More and more, we live in a Google world, where there is less room for small, vertical oriented initiatives. Habits are hard to break, and with no government interest in regulating dominant positions in one industry being abused to enter new verticals, Google has no reason to change its way. You better get on it, adapt or die, and take advantage of the new world!

The question is, will you adopt the new sign-in functionality for your site, or is this going to be a long way for Google, where they will have to start enforcing mandatory usage of the Google+ Sign-In? What do you think..?

 

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Google+ aims to make sharing on the web more like sharing in real life. Check out Circles, Events and Hangouts, just a few of the things we've been working on.
Brand: Google
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