Saturday, 5 October 2013

Penguin 5, With The Penguin 2.1 Spam-Filtering Algorithm, Is Now Live

The fifth confirmed release of Google’s “Penguin” spam fighting algorithm is live. That makes it Penguin 5 by our count. But since this Penguin update is using a slightly improved version of Google’s “Penguin 2″ second-generation technology, Google itself is calling it “Penguin 2.1.” Don’t worry. We’ll explain the numbering nonsense below, as well as what this all means for publishers.

New Version Of Penguin Live Today

The head of Google’s web spam team, Matt Cutts, shared the news on Twitter, saying the latest release would impact about 1 percent of all searches:

The link that Cutts points at, by the way, explains what Penguin was when it was first launched. It doesn’t cover anything new or changed with the latest release.

Previous Updates

Here are all the confirmed releases of Penguin to date:
Penguin 1 on April 24, 2012 (impacting around 3.1% of queries)
Penguin 2 on May 26, 2012 (impacting less than 0.1%)
Penguin 3 on October 5, 2012 (impacting around 0.3% of queries)
Penguin 4 (AKA Penguin 2.0) on May 22, 2013 (impacting 2.3% of queries)
Penguin 5 (AKA Penguin 2.1) on Oct. 4, 2013 (impacting around 1% of queries)
Why Penguin 2.1 AND Penguin 5?

If us talking about Penguin 5 in reference to something Google is calling Penguin 2.1 hurts your head, believe us, it hurts ours, too. But you can pin that blame back on Google. Here’s why.
When Google started releasing its “Panda” algorithm designed to fight low-quality content, it called the first one simply “Panda.” So when the second came out, people referred to that as “Panda 2.” When the third came out, people called that Panda 3 — causing Google to say that the third release, because it was relatively minor, really only should be called Panda 2.1 — the “point” being used to indicate how much a minor change it was.
Google eventually — and belatedly — indicated that a Panda 3 release happened, causing the numbering to move into Panda 3.0, Panda 3.1 and so on until there had been so many “minor” updates that we having to resort to going further out in decimal places to things like Panda 3.92.
That caused us here at Search Engine Land to decide it would be easier all around if we just numbered any confirmed update sequentially, in order of when they came. No matter how “big” or “small” an update might be, we’d just give it the next number on the list: Penguin 1, Penguin 2, Penguin 3 and so on.

Thanks For The Headache, Google

That worked out fine until Penguin 4, because Google typically didn’t give these updates numbers itself. It just said there was an update, and left it to us or others to attach a number to it.
But when Penguin 4 arrived, Google really wanted to stress that it was using what it deemed to be a major, next-generation change in how Penguin works. So, Google called it Penguin 2, despite all the references to a Penguin 2 already being out there, despite the fact it hadn’t really numbered many of these various updates before.
Today’s update, as can be seen above, has been dubbed Penguin 2.1 — so supposedly, it’s a relatively minor change to the previous Penguin filter that was being used. However, if it’s impacting around 1 percent of queries as Google says, that means it is more significant than what Google might have considered to be similar “minor” updates of Penguin 1.1 and Penguin 1.2.

What Is Penguin Again? And How Do I Deal With It?

For those new to the whole “Penguin” concept, Penguin is a part of Google’s overall search algorithm that periodically looks for sites that are deemed to be spamming Google’s search results but somehow still ranking well. In particular, it goes after sites that may have purchased paid links.
If you were hit by Penguin, you’ll likely know if you see a marked drop in traffic that begins today or tomorrow. To recover, you’ll need to do things like disavow bad links or manually have those removed. Filing a reconsideration request doesn’t help, because Penguin is an automated process. Until it sees that what it considers to be bad has been removed, you don’t recover.
If you were previously hit by Penguin and have taken actions hopefully meant to fix that, today and tomorrow are the days to watch. If you see an improvement in traffic, that’s a sign that you’ve escaped Penguin.
Here are previous articles with more on Penguin recovery and how it and other filters work as part of the ranking system

What About Hummingbird?

If you’re wondering about how Penguin fits into that new Google Hummingbird algorithm  you may have heard about, think of Penguin as a part of Hummingbird, not as a replacement for it.
Hummingbird is like Google’s entire ranking engine, whereas Penguin is like a small part of that engine, a filter that is removed and periodically replaced with what Google considers to be a better filter to help keep out bad stuff.
To understand more about that relationship and Hummingbird in general, see our post below:

Source of this article is : -

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

SEO Advice & Marketing Tips for the Music Industry

Music is one of the most popular forms of entertainment and one of the most traded digital assets on the planet. Ever since Napster's debut in 1999 musicians, record labels and the RIAA have all singled out file sharing as the overwhelming source for loss of revenue in record sales. I have always wondered why they get to point all of these crazy fingers without highlighting how absolutely awful they are at marketing their products on the Internet – not to mention how little they seem to care about the revenue they lose to their own horribleness.


A massive volume of searches related to music are for song lyrics. For you kids, back in the old days, records, cassette tapes and CD’s came with lyrics to each song included on the album’s liner notes. So, when you finally scraped together $10-$20 to buy an album, you also got some great artwork and the lyrics to every song. You could confidently sing along to your favorites while in the shower, in your car, or just to annoy your coworkers.
After the explosion of MP3 files, web users turned to the Internet to find lyrics. However, today it is still rare for an artist’s official website to contain any lyrics to any of their own songs. As perplexing as that might sound to the savvy folks reading this, it gets much worse.
example of a lyrics search on Google
Fig. 1 - example of a search for lyrics on Google.
A web user searching for lyrics will find them on one of many websites. Since these websites are not official, they gain revenue and profit from the plethora of advertising with which they surround the lyrics. These ads can often be misleading and take users to websites purporting to give away the song for free, perpetuating the very problem the record industry claims is killing them.
a lyrics website with a banner advertising free music downloads
Fig. 2 - a lyrics website displays an advertisement for free music downloads above an artist's lyrics
To highlight this issue I looked at one of my current favorite bands, The Black Keys. The first thing I did was picked out their top three most recognized songs and looked up their exact-match search volume with Google Adwords Keyword tool. To get a better idea of the search volume I looked at three variations of a likely search to find the lyrics for each song: Howling for You, Lonely Boy and Tighten Up. What I found was that, according to Google's tool, each month these variations get 31,960 exact searches.
That's 11,460 more people than the capacity of FC Dallas Stadium in Frisco, Texas, where The Black Keys will be headlining a concert in April. For just three songs and nine search phrases, that comes out to 383,520 searches per year (likely declining the older the song gets), or 1/3 of a million chances to engage fans with concert dates, merchandise and other music.
exact match search data on lyrics searches for songs by the black keys.
Fig. 3 - exact match searches for the lyrics of "lonely boy", "tighten up" and "howlin for you"

Music Videos and Music Streaming

I remember reading a news article once that stated just how much an artist had to pay to create a music video and then get it slotted in prime viewing time on MTV. This was, of course, before MTV turned teenagers into pregnant-whining-Snooki impersonators. Music videos allow artist to engage music lovers with a visually appealing representation of their music, which helps spread the word and win record sales, both digital and physical. The videos also help get music fans to part with their cash (and routines) and go out to concerts.
Music labels and artists are terrible at marketing with their videos on the Internet. The DMCA states that web streams, like web radio, are an “interactive service,” and therefore they cannot play music upon a listener’s demand. Think about that. If you went to Shoutcast, picked a station, and requested a song, you would have to wait one hour for it to play. The DMCA also states that you can only play the same song from an album after an hour gap – and no more than three songs from the same artist or box set in a row. This is a chief complaint among internet radio users. These rules came directly from record labels' lobbying efforts concerned that Internet users would simply record the album from an Internet radio station and never buy it.
If you just rolled your eyes, then you are one of the millions of people who go to YouTube and listen to a song by an artist, only to be shown the entire catalog of that artist's works when the video is done playing. You may have even seen official playlists – created by a music label, sometimes! – containing nothing but videos of one artist or album. You can listen to as many songs as you want, on demand, in a row. As long as the label doesn't complain to YouTube, these stay up.
It's the record labels’ way of giving us free music.
using users can download youtube videos and extract mp3 files for free
Fig. 4 - a screen capture of downloading videos and music for free from YouTube
The most astute web users know they can usually record a music video or find it in their temp files. But it doesn't take a lot of computer know-how to get an MP3, or even the entire HD version of your favorite song, for free from YouTube. Services like and allow access to all of the versions of a video converted on YouTube. Typically that means 240p, 360p and 480p FLV, 480p, 720p, 1080p HD MP4, and 360p, 480p and 720p WebM – and also extracting a standard quality MP3 audio file from the video.
So, to put this in perspective, recording artists and record labels attack online streaming radio stations where a listener is interested in a broad category of music like rock, dub step or hip-hop, but allow and encourage the free downloading of their creative works via YouTube/Vevo where the fan has specific intent on just one artist and/or song.
songs on shoutcast radio stations and pandora are not able to be downloaded.
Fig. 5 - shoutcast radio stations and pandora encourage music buying and don't allow music to be downloaded.
Oh, just wait, record labels get even worse. Just like with lyrics, recording artists are not taking full advantage of the power of their music videos. Most artists, just like The Black Keys, are content to upload their videos to YouTube/Vevo and a few other major websites, letting their music entice people to share it around and these sites promote it. When a web user performs a search for the video, then, they land on YouTube or Vevo – not on the artist’s website. Again, this decreases opportunities to engage fans, who are seeking your content; with tour, merchandise, and music information.
a search for the music video to the song "lonely boy" shows universal video search, not the artist's website.
Fig. 6 - universal video search appearing at p1 and leaving out the artist's website.
An artist or label, like The Black Keys, might have a videos page on their website, or even a separate page for each video with correct title tag, search engine friendly URL structure, and some content. However, as you can see in the SERPs image above, The Black Keys’ own website doesn't show up in top rankings for a search for their music video “Lonely Boy.” That’s because a query with ‘video’ (singular only) seems to pull Google’s Universal Video results in at position #1 in a large majority of searches.
The Black Keys website doesn't have a video sitemap or use any markup like Facebook Open Graph or to help tell engines and social websites that this is a video page. The result is that, when their site finally shows up in SERPs for a song, it shows up with the main videos page and not the specific page for that song.
Finally, we have the issue of encouraging and utilizing user generated content (UGC) to promote your musical brand. The Black Keys, along with artists like Tech N9ne and Blink 182, do a great job of allowing their fans to create videos using their music. However, we have yet to see UGC utilized in music video production on a large scale. There are multiple types of music videos created by fans to help promote an artist’s music including anime music videos, game music videos, fan animation videos, lyric videos, cover loop videos, sing along videos, etc. Find communities and encourage your fans to create their own versions of your music videos, like this one – a close-up of The Black Keys ‘Lonely Boy’ playing on a vinyl record player.

Your Own Website

The last thing that musicians and labels do that completely drives me insane is mishandling and under-utilizing their own websites. Aside from the issues above – a lack of content that fans want, directing users to other websites, and doing a terrible job of search optimizing their own content – there are several other often repeated problems.
The first is the “song preview.” Back to my Black Keys example, the band published their video on MTV, Vimeo and YouTube (kudos for not just using YouTube). The same video appears embedded from YouTube on their website. It’s full length, however, if you land on their Discography page, you can only listen to a short sample of the song. Really? I am not making this up, go look for yourself.
Even more perplexing is how hard it is to purchase a song or album after sampling it. I can listen, then find the navigation link to the store, then navigate to music, then I can … OK, I can't buy the song. Thanks for the teaser. Even more confusing, Tour pages typically have a link straight to the “buy tickets” page.
Musician websites most often overuse Flash, Quicktime, Silverlight or other proprietary plugins to display content. This limits the ability for users on iPhones, or browsers without plugins installed, to view the content. While this can keep some users from enjoying content, there are other ways that once on a musicians website users can get distracted. The most prominent being the over usage of social media pushing. I get it, you want to engage with users in social media. If I really like you I might follow you on Twitter when I see the follow button, Like you on Facebook, + you on Google+ or hug you on, but when your users are on your website - THEY ARE ALREADY ENGAGING WITH YOU. Your website should engage back.
Finally – you were waiting for finally, I know – artist's websites, including The Black Keys, violate several other SEO best practices like good, flat internal linking structures, publishing sitemaps, and providing descriptive alt and image title tags on all images.
an example of how alt tags are used on a musicians website
Fig. 7 - an example of how alt tags are being used on the artist "the black keys" website.
Bands, solo artists and record labels – the Internet is what you make of it, and you make it wonderful with your music, but terrible with your SEO and marketing practices. Before you keep blaming mythical huge losses on internet sharing, please fix your own online marketing efforts. You stand to make billions.

The Free Marketing Tips


  • Put them on your own website.
  • You can try putting them on your Facebook page.
  • Surround them with sales info for tours, songs, albums and merchandise.

Music Videos and Music Streaming

  • Embrace all video platforms, not just one or two.
  • Promote your music through streaming web radio stations.
  • Encourage and utilize user generated music videos, unleash the creativity of your fans.
  • Place videos on your website, using a new page for each song.
  • Create a video sitemap.

Your Website

  • Stop using song previews on sales pages when your song is free to listen to on other websites.
  • Provide ability to purchase or links to purchase location for songs and albums.
  • Stop overusing Flash, Silverlight and other plugin content display software. Instead make a visually stunning site that all browsers / web users can see and interface with that has text based links and text content.
  • Publish a sitemap.xml file.
  • Create a flat internal linking structure with anchor text.
  • Use correct Title tags on your pages.
  • Use descriptive alt and title tags on your images.
  • Don't over push your social networks.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Search quality highlights: 40 changes for February

This month we have many improvements to celebrate. With 40 changes reported, that marks a new record for our monthly series on search quality. Most of the updates rolled out earlier this month, and a handful are actually rolling out today and tomorrow. We continue to improve many of our systems, including related searches, sitelinks, autocomplete, UI elements, indexing, synonyms, SafeSearch and more. Each individual change is subtle and important, and over time they add up to a radically improved search engine.

Here’s the list for February:

  • More coverage for related searches. [launch codename “Fuzhou”] This launch brings in a new data source to help generate the “Searches related to” section, increasing coverage significantly so the feature will appear for more queries. This section contains search queries that can help you refine what you’re searching for.
  • Tweak to categorizer for expanded sitelinks. [launch codename “Snippy”, project codename “Megasitelinks”] This improvement adjusts a signal we use to try and identify duplicate snippets. We were applying a categorizer that wasn’t performing well for our expanded sitelinks, so we’ve stopped applying the categorizer in those cases. The result is more relevant sitelinks.
  • Less duplication in expanded sitelinks. [launch codename “thanksgiving”, project codename “Megasitelinks”] We’ve adjusted signals to reduce duplication in the snippets for expanded sitelinks. Now we generate relevant snippets based more on the page content and less on the query.
  • More consistent thumbnail sizes on results page. We’ve adjusted the thumbnail size for most image content appearing on the results page, providing a more consistent experience across result types, and also across mobile and tablet. The new sizes apply to rich snippet results for recipes and applications, movie posters, shopping results, book results, news results and more.
  • More locally relevant predictions in YouTube. [project codename “Suggest”] We’ve improved the ranking for predictions in YouTube to provide more locally relevant queries. For example, for the query [lady gaga in ] performed on the US version of YouTube, we might predict [lady gaga in times square], but for the same search performed on the Indian version of YouTube, we might predict [lady gaga in India].
  • More accurate detection of official pages. [launch codename “WRE”] We’ve made an adjustment to how we detect official pages to make more accurate identifications. The result is that many pages that were previously misidentified as official will no longer be.
  • Refreshed per-URL country information. [Launch codename “longdew”, project codename “country-id data refresh”] We updated the country associations for URLs to use more recent data.
  • Expand the size of our images index in Universal Search. [launch codename “terra”, project codename “Images Universal”] We launched a change to expand the corpus of results for which we show images in Universal Search. This is especially helpful to give more relevant images on a larger set of searches.
  • Minor tuning of autocomplete policy algorithms. [project codename “Suggest”] We have a narrow set of policies for autocomplete for offensive and inappropriate terms. This improvement continues to refine the algorithms we use to implement these policies.
  • “Site:” query update [launch codename “Semicolon”, project codename “Dice”] This change improves the ranking for queries using the “site:” operator by increasing the diversity of results.
  • Improved detection for SafeSearch in Image Search. [launch codename "Michandro", project codename “SafeSearch”] This change improves our signals for detecting adult content in Image Search, aligning the signals more closely with the signals we use for our other search results.
  • Interval based history tracking for indexing. [project codename “Intervals”] This improvement changes the signals we use in document tracking algorithms. 
  • Improvements to foreign language synonyms. [launch codename “floating context synonyms”, project codename “Synonyms”] This change applies an improvement we previously launched for English to all other languages. The net impact is that you’ll more often find relevant pages that include synonyms for your query terms.
  • Disabling two old fresh query classifiers. [launch codename “Mango”, project codename “Freshness”] As search evolves and new signals and classifiers are applied to rank search results, sometimes old algorithms get outdated. This improvement disables two old classifiers related to query freshness.
  • More organized search results for Google Korea. [launch codename “smoothieking”, project codename “Sokoban4”] This significant improvement to search in Korea better organizes the search results into sections for news, blogs and homepages.
  • Fresher images. [launch codename “tumeric”] We’ve adjusted our signals for surfacing fresh images. Now we can more often surface fresh images when they appear on the web.
  • Update to the Google bar. [project codename “Kennedy”] We continue to iterate in our efforts to deliver a beautifully simple experience across Google products, and as part of that this month we made further adjustments to the Google bar. The biggest change is that we’ve replaced the drop-down Google menu in the November redesign with a consistent and expanded set of links running across the top of the page.
  • Adding three new languages to classifier related to error pages. [launch codename "PNI", project codename "Soft404"] We have signals designed to detect crypto 404 pages (also known as “soft 404s”), pages that return valid text to a browser but the text only contain error messages, such as “Page not found.” It’s rare that a user will be looking for such a page, so it’s important we be able to detect them. This change extends a particular classifier to Portuguese, Dutch and Italian.
  • Improvements to travel-related searches. [launch codename “nesehorn”] We’ve made improvements to triggering for a variety of flight-related search queries. These changes improve the user experience for our Flight Search feature with users getting more accurate flight results.
  • Data refresh for related searches signal. [launch codename “Chicago”, project codename “Related Search”] One of the many signals we look at to generate the “Searches related to” section is the queries users type in succession. If users very often search for [apple] right after [banana], that’s a sign the two might be related. This update refreshes the model we use to generate these refinements, leading to more relevant queries to try.
  • International launch of shopping rich snippets. [project codename “rich snippets”] Shopping rich snippets help you more quickly identify which sites are likely to have the most relevant product for your needs, highlighting product prices, availability, ratings and review counts. This month we expanded shopping rich snippets globally (they were previously only available in the US, Japan and Germany).
  • Improvements to Korean spelling. This launch improves spelling corrections when the user performs a Korean query in the wrong keyboard mode (also known as an "IME", or input method editor). Specifically, this change helps users who mistakenly enter Hangul queries in Latin mode or vice-versa.
  • Improvements to freshness. [launch codename “iotfreshweb”, project codename “Freshness”] We’ve applied new signals which help us surface fresh content in our results even more quickly than before.
  • Web History in 20 new countries. With Web History, you can browse and search over your search history and webpages you've visited. You will also get personalized search results that are more relevant to you, based on what you’ve searched for and which sites you’ve visited in the past. In order to deliver more relevant and personalized search results, we’ve launched Web History in Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines, Morocco, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Estonia, Kuwait, Iraq, Sri Lanka, Tunisia, Nigeria, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Bosnia and Herzegowina, Azerbaijan, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Republic of Moldova, and Ghana. Web History is turned on only for people who have a Google Account and previously enabled Web History.
  • Improved snippets for video channels. Some search results are links to channels with many different videos, whether on, Hulu or YouTube. We’ve had a feature for a while now that displays snippets for these results including direct links to the videos in the channel, and this improvement increases quality and expands coverage of these rich “decorated” snippets. We’ve also made some improvements to our backends used to generate the snippets.
  • Improvements to ranking for local search results. [launch codename “Venice”] This improvement improves the triggering of Local Universal results by relying more on the ranking of our main search results as a signal. 
  • Improvements to English spell correction. [launch codename “Kamehameha”] This change improves spelling correction quality in English, especially for rare queries, by making one of our scoring functions more accurate.
  • Improvements to coverage of News Universal. [launch codename “final destination”] We’ve fixed a bug that caused News Universal results not to appear in cases when our testing indicates they’d be very useful.
  • Consolidation of signals for spiking topics. [launch codename “news deserving score”, project codename “Freshness”] We use a number of signals to detect when a new topic is spiking in popularity. This change consolidates some of the signals so we can rely on signals we can compute in realtime, rather than signals that need to be processed offline. This eliminates redundancy in our systems and helps to ensure we can continue to detect spiking topics as quickly as possible.
  • Better triggering for Turkish weather search feature. [launch codename “hava”] We’ve tuned the signals we use to decide when to present Turkish users with the weather search feature. The result is that we’re able to provide our users with the weather forecast right on the results page with more frequency and accuracy.
  • Visual refresh to account settings page. We completed a visual refresh of the account settings page, making the page more consistent with the rest of our constantly evolving design.
  • Panda update. This launch refreshes data in the Panda system, making it more accurate and more sensitive to recent changes on the web.
  • Link evaluation. We often use characteristics of links to help us figure out the topic of a linked page. We have changed the way in which we evaluate links; in particular, we are turning off a method of link analysis that we used for several years. We often rearchitect or turn off parts of our scoring in order to keep our system maintainable, clean and understandable.
  • SafeSearch update. We have updated how we deal with adult content, making it more accurate and robust. Now, irrelevant adult content is less likely to show up for many queries.
  • Spam update. In the process of investigating some potential spam, we found and fixed some weaknesses in our spam protections.
  • Improved local results. We launched a new system to find results from a user’s city more reliably. Now we’re better able to detect when both queries and documents are local to the user. 

Friday, 24 February 2012

How to Optimize a Company YouTube Channel

Many brands are finally realising the power of video as a traffic and sales generator, producing video content that both advertises their products/services and informs their customers. YouTube is a natural home for this video content, as it’s not only the 2nd largest search engine in many countries (after Google) but also free and easy to use.
The downside of YouTube’s massive reach is that there are 60 hours of new video uploaded to YouTube every minute, so it’s very easy to get lost in the noise. In order to ensure that your content is amongst the 4 billion videos streamed each day, companies should do everything they can to optimize their corporate presence on the platform. Here are some of the first steps to consider…

Video Content

When producing content for YouTube, you may find (depending on the demographic and viewing device) that most people will prefer to watch short form video content, so aim for videos to be between 3-5 minutes long. If you have a video that is 10+ minutes long, consider splitting it into multiple segments and give each segment a unique title and brief introduction.
If you have a large archive of video content, do not upload it all at once. Instead, drip feed YouTube with a couple of videos each day. This frequency of uploading has been found to really grow channels quickly.
Within any made for YouTube content, Ayima recommends having the presenter/narrator prompt the viewer to Subscribe to the channel, Like the video or Leave a Comment. If you can start to encourage the audience to interact with the YouTube Channel more, your brand will naturally build strong quality score signals.


Even if your company has many brands and products, Ayima recommends uploading all of the video content into a single branded YouTube channel. YouTube channels are like domain names in Google’s web ranking algorithms, consolidating domains/channels to a single location boosts authority and rankings across the board. If you already have multiple channels, it may be worth migrating the videos into a single destination.
Make sure that every video has a unique title, that describes the video and includes the keywords you would use if searching for the video.
e.g. “ACME Widgets Video” could become “How to use ACME widgets” or “ACME Widget in-depth review”.
Don’t include your brand name in the title of each video as a branding exercise – if the video isn’t specifically about your company (e.g. History, Recruitment, News etc), having the company name in the title is merely diluting the relevancy of your video for related searches.
When tagging up a video on YouTube, try to keep the number of tags in the 5-10 terms range. Exclude stop words such as “the” and make sure that you really focus on words that give context to what the video is about. Examples of good tags include:
- Place names
- Peoples names
- Brand, product or model names
Tagging helps YouTube form the Related Videos suggestions, so if you tag videos correctly you can find that your brand’s videos now show up at the end of other popular videos in your niche. It’s worth researching what tags similar popular videos have used – as with the title – avoid dilution of relevancy by only using tags that are exact matches.
A lot of the top YouTube channel owners have built their large audience base by treating YouTube as a social network, it’s not just about having great content. Interact with your company’s YouTube audience as you would a Facebook fan or Twitter follower, user engagement should dramatically improve.

Ranking Videos on YouTube / within Google

YouTube videos rank very well within Google’s universal, aka “blended”, search results – often pushing down organic listings that have significant authority and many inbound links. For that reason alone, hosting your videos on the YouTube domain which has such a high authority within Google, has a clear advantage. But like other content, if you want to increase the chances of a video appearing within the organic search results, you need to look at building links to the video within YouTube just as you would a key page on your corporate site. One way of doing this is to conduct a blogger outreach program where you contact relevant blogs and offer them the video to embed on their website. Within the YouTube “Embed” code (linked to under each video) you can also append a link to the root of your channel or to the video itself.
When a video is embedded on a page – the content of that page provides Google with further context of the type of searches that the video should rank for. So embed the videos on your main site where possible.
With the relevancy of the video taken into account, the following factors will help to increase the rankings of each video within YouTube:
- Number of channel subscribers
- Frequency of new video uploads to the Channel
- Ratio of thumbs up / thumbs down for each video
- Video engagement (ratio of thumbs up/down and comments)
Once the channel is set-up and optimized content is starting to drip in, your company should use other social networks to promote the channel and push people to each new video. This means promotion of the channel to your newsletter, previous customers, active clients and followers/fans on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.

Five key actions to take away from this…

1. Optimize video titles as you would with webpage titles
2. Increase the uploading frequency of fresh new content (but don’t upload all at once)
3. Embed videos on relevant websites and reach out to bloggers in your space
4. Leverage existing social networks to grow your YouTube Subscriber count
5. Treat YouTube Subscribers as you would Facebook Fans
You can of course buy thumbs up on YouTube in a similar way to buying links, to manipulate YouTube’s ranking factors. It’s a very risky practice unless you know what you are doing and to start with, you’re much better off concentrating on producing more video content and growing the channel organically.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Is PageRank Important?

Just Enough Knowledge to be Dangerous

One of the bigger problems with learning in the field of SEO is that there are a lot of people who have a nugget of information. And they spread it far and wide without the proper context needed to evaluate the potential risks and rewards of any given strategy. So new SEOs end up thinking topic x is the most important, then topic y, then topic z. And then someone debunks one of those. Many false facts are taken as truths when the people with a nugget of information (that they found from some source) spread it as fact.

Accurate Answers Need Context

As the structure of the web changes and search engine relevancy algorithms change then so must the field of SEO. This means that the right answer to questions can change frequently, and information from many years ago may not be correct. Does PageRank matter? When I first got in SEO it was crucially important, but over the years other pieces of the relevancy algorithms (like domain age, domain name, domain trust, domain extension, link anchor text, searcher location, search query chains, word relationships, search personalization, other user data, result re-ranking based on local inter-connectivity, input from 10,000+ remote quality raters, and even a wide array of penalties & filters) have been layered over the top of the core relevancy algorithm.

If that sounds like a lot, it is because it is!

Yes, PageRank is important to driving indexing, but for rankings it is nowhere near as important as it once was. SEO has become a much more refined art. In an October 2009 interview, Google's Amit Singal stated:

No one should feel, if I dismantle the current search system, someone will get upset. That’s the wrong environment. When I came, I dismantled [Google cofounders] Larry and Sergey’s whole ranking system. That was the whole idea. I just said, That’s how I think it should be done, and Sergey said, Great!

Great SEO Service is Interactive

Search keeps innovating - as it must. Each layer of innovation creates new challenges and new opportunities.

Not only does SEO strategy change over time, but it also varies from site to site. A large corporate site has a different set of strengths and weaknesses than a small local business website. The best SEO advice must incorporate all of the following
  • where you are
  • where you want to be
  • the resources you have to bridge the gap between the above 2 (domain names, brand, social relations, public relations, capital, etc.)
  • what the competition is doing
  • your strengths and weaknesses relative to your market

That is why having an interactive SEO Community is so important. It allows us to look for competitive strengths and weaknesses, and offer useful tips that fit your market, your website, and your business.

Even Search Engineers Don't Know All the Search Algorithms

The algorithms are so complex that sometimes even leading search engineers working for Google are uncertain of what is going on. Search engineers can't know every bit of code because Google has made over 450 algorithm changes in a single year.

When I first wrote about a new algorithmic anomaly that I (and others) saw, I got flamed with some pretty nasty words on public SEO sites...a few of which are highlighted below:

SEO Company.

The above people were:

  • confident
  • rude
  • wrong

And that is part of the reason I stopped sharing as much research publicly. Sharing publicly meant...

  • spending long hours of research and writing (for free)
  • creating more competition for myself (from the people who listen to my tips and advice)
  • watching my brand get dragged through the mud by people who didn't have the experience or capacity needed to understand and evaluate what I was writing about (but who had enough time to hang out in a free forum and blast me).

Whereas if we share that sort of information in our exclusive member forums we...

  • help our customers
  • get to share information and learn from each other's experiences
  • don't get blasted by the trolls hanging out on the public forums

Google's Matt Cutts Confirmed I Was Right

In early 2008 Google's Matt Cutts (one of the top 4 search engineers working at Google) wrote about the above issue that he did not know existed (even AFTER he was alerted to it).

Matt Cutts on Position 6 Issue.

But take notice that Matt would not confirm the issue until he claimed it had been corrected. So if you wanted to research that issue to better learn the relevancy algorithms it was already gone.

SEO professionals either captured the opportunity early or missed it. And, if they waited for the official word from Google, they missed it.

Algorithmic anomalies & new penalties are often written off by the industry & then months or years later the truth is revealed.

Back to PageRank

So it important? Yes, primarily for

  • determining the original source of content when duplicates of a page exist
  • selecting the initial set of results (before re-ranking them based on other factors)
  • establishing the crawl priority and crawl depth of a site

But when determining which site ranks better than the next, link diversity is typically far more important than raw PageRank. And even though PageRank is supposed to be query independent, Google warps their view of the web graph where necessary to improve relevancy, like when localizing search results:

Q: Anything you’ve focused on more recently than freshness?

A: Localization. We were not local enough in multiple countries, especially in countries where there are multiple languages or in countries whose language is the same as the majority country.

So in Austria, where they speak German, they were getting many more German results because the German Web is bigger, the German linkage is bigger. Or in the U.K., they were getting American results, or in India or New Zealand. So we built a team around it and we have made great strides in localization. And we have had a lot of success internationally.

The above quote shows how they look at far more than PageRank and links when trying to determine relevancy.

3 Common SEO Approaches

There are 3 basic ways to approach search engine optimization

  • a mechanical strategy, where you try to outsmart the search engines and stay ahead of their relevancy algorithms
  • a marketing-based approach, where you try to meet ranking criteria by creating the types of content that other people value and making sure you push market it aggressively
  • a hybrid approach, where you take the easy mechanical wins and study general algorithmic shifts...but are primarily driving your decisions based on fundamental marketing principals

Comparing the 3 Strategies

For most people the first approach is simply too complex, risky, and uncertain to be worth the effort. Not only do the sites get burned to the ground, but it happens over and over again, so it is quite hard to build momentum and a real business that keeps growing. In fact, most of the top "black hat" SEOs have "white hat" sites that help provide stable income in case anything happens to their riskier sites. Some people are great at coming up with clever hacks, but most people would be better off focusing on building their business using more traditional means.

If search engineers have access to the source code and still don't know everything then how can people outside the company know everything? They can't. Which is why we take a hybrid approach to SEO.

The approach we teach is the hybrid approach - a marketing-based strategy with some easy mechanical wins mixed in. Our customers take some of these easy wins to help differentiate their strategy from uninformed competitors, and then use marketing principals to build off of early success.

The Paradox of SEO

In using a marketing based approach you build up many signals of trust and many rankings as a side effect of doing traditional marketing. If people are talking about you and like your products then you are probably going to get some free high-quality links. And this leads us to the paradox of SEO: "the less reliant your site is on Google the more Google will want to rely on your site."

If you want good information to find out what is working and what is not, you can use our site searchto find answers to most common SEO questions, and know you are getting answers from a trust-worthy source. The information we give away is of higher value than what most people sell.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

10 Elements of a Perfectly Optimized Page

One area that search engines have made a number of significant advancements in recent years is in how they evaluate content on a website. So what does a perfectly optimized page look like in 2012? Let’s look at 10 elements.

Bearnaise Sauce Optimized Page

1. Title tags are still important, but it’s not a good idea to over-optimize them.

2. Descriptions still don’t appear to add much ranking value, but can help encourage clicks.

3. Header tags still need to be relevant.

4. URL still ideally mentions the keywords.

5. Content is now about semantically relevant supporting keywords, not multiple mentions of the keywords. The example chosen is a recipe, because in order to make bĂ©arnaise sauce there are specific ingredients that are 100 percent relevant to the eventual outcome. One way of checking what keywords Google might consider as relevant is to do a ‘~keyword’ (or tilde) search. Other ways, let’s be honest, involve nothing more than common sense and knowing your subject.

6. Video and other ‘rich’ content can be useful on a page to increase engagement levels, reduce bounce rates and also to appear alongside results as illustrated.


7. Internal links need to follow the "reasonable surfer" patent. It makes sense in the "perfectly optimized page" example above to link to peppercorn sauce as an alternative to béarnaise.

8. Facebook/Twitter/other login comments are a way of sharing the content on other platforms. The direct SEO benefit may be debatable, but it never hurts to get your content in front of a large amount of people. With Google Search Plus Your World, it could be that adding a Google+ login is more important than anything else.

9. User reviews add regular content to the page, which can also be coded to include microformatting instructions and add extra elements to your listings in search engine result pages (SERPs).

10. Newsfeeds only share content that already exists elsewhere, but they contribute to an overall impression of the page changing on a regular basis.

It’s worth noting that the “perfectly optimized page” above won’t be perfect for all verticals, or for all brands – not everyone has the ability to add customer reviews to their product pages (e.g., insurance comparison sites).

Although there's no one-size-fits-all solution, hopefully the above list will give you some guidance on how to perfect your on-page SEO.