social signals and seo

Google, Identities, And Social Signals

I was doing my morning reading and came across this short article in Search Engine Land:

http://searchengineland.com/googles-matt-cutts-facebook-twitter-pages-are-treated-like-any-other-web-page-on-the-internet-182370

I am of course interested in the details of search engine related news, but the first sentence of the sixth paragraph was a beauty:

However, Matt does add that he does see Google crawling, indexing and understanding more about identities on the web in the long term.

Yup, I also think that Google might be interested in identities more and more as time goes on! A little bit of an understatement.

I choose to read “identities” as “entities” – people, businesses, places, things.

Nothing terribly surprising here, but the other side of the article is that Google is saying that the signals from Twitter and Facebook aren’t used in the ranking algo. So – that leaves a bit of area for interpretation – social media is important for nearly and optimization campaign, ignore it at your own peril, but Google does not have access to the trusted data set of each respective company.

What else could they be using from these large communities to help their own ends? Co-occurrence? Speed/size of meme/story spreading?

a bunch of books

Reading Challenge 2014

I came across a good post on Reddit that got me thinking about what some of my goals are for 2014. I’ve already got some fitness goals (first triathlon) as well as personal goals (done with an office job by August). But, being a fairly avid reader when time allows, I thought this was a good idea:

  • The goal is to read as many books as you can written by authors from different US states.

  • An author’s state is the state in which he was born; Hemingway lived in Florida and Idaho, but he was born in Illinois.

Here are the achievement levels, based on number of states “visited” in 2014:

  • Turn Off the Television: 1-5 states visited
  • Homebody: 6-10 states visited
  • Budget Traveler: 11-15 states visited
  • Frequent Flier: 16-20 states visited
  • Pathfinder: 21-25 states visited
  • Lewis and Clark: 26 or more states visited

In a best-case outcome you would read 50 books, roughly one per week. If you don’t think that even 26 is an achievable number, remember that’s just one book every 2 weeks. And consider the following partial list of novelists and their home states:

  1. Ernest Hemingway – Illinois
  2. Tom Perrotta – New Jersey
  3. Mark Twain – Missouri
  4. F. Scott Fitzgerald – Minnesota
  5. John Dunning – New York
  6. Dan Jenkins – Texas
  7. Robert B. Parker – Massachusetts
  8. Marisha Pessl – Michigan
  9. Carl Hiaasen – Florida
  10. Stephen King – Maine
  11. Jim Butcher – Missouri
  12. John Steinbeck – California
  13. Dean Koontz – Pennsylvania
  14. Dashiell Hammett – Maryland
  15. John Grisham – Arkansas
  16. Sue Grafton – Kentucky
  17. Laura Moriarty – Hawaii
  18. James Thurber – Ohio
  19. Ray Blackston – South Carolina
  20. S.E. Hinton – Oklahoma
  21. Flannery O’Connor – Georgia

Keep in mind that each state only counts once; Mark Twain and Jim Butcher are both from Missouri, but if you read the entire Dresden series and Tom Sawyer it only counts as one state visited (even if you detoured into Kansas in between). But this also shows the flexibility of this challenge: fans of the classics and fans of Sci-Fi/Fantasy both have options in Missouri.

I doubt I’ll find the time to get myself up to 26 or more, but I’m going to aim for 11-15 – and I’m going to include short stories. Being part of a reading club helps, and although I don’t always end up falling in love with new readings, I’ve found it helpful to branch out into different authors and subject matters. You never know where it will end up affecting your life!

Read the full article on the challenge here: http://somersetbooks.blogspot.com/2014/01/the-50-states-reading-challenge.html

Interesting state of affairs

As I was researching some local results for SEO services in the upstate area, I came across a wide range of services and quality. It was a little scary to think of a business owner wading into this, although my instinct is that most people would go with a service recommended by an associate or business partner.

For some of the smaller areas in upstate NY I came across SEO “firms” on the first page of results that were offering package directory submissions for hundreds of dollars per month – not a bad gig if you can land it, but certainly not a way to make your client rank! I’m fairly sure that some of these firms are just sites that no longer do much work – anyone still submitting massive directory blasts for a client will have some real issues – and fast.

Anyways, this made me think of how to educate clients and business owners. This is always a double edged sword – you can make someone dangerous with knowledge, but the lack of understanding can be just as bad. All things being equal I would rather my clients understand the basics and the current landscape – after all, it’s a function of marketing and they have a vested interest in being on top of what is going on in that segment of their industry (and in general).

As far as SEO and other forms of online optimization go, I usually see Moz referred to as a good place to start. I haven’t looked over their beginner’s guide in a couple of years, but I suppose that it isn’t the worst place to begin. I have this feeling that someone (but, who?!?) could put together a decent guide for business owners as a guide to online visibility. I use that word, visibility, since it isn’t always search engine visibility – if you can find quality traffic from a forum, social media, or other outlet, then great – go for it!

Something that would encapsulate perhaps the top 10-ish ways to gain visibility – onsite and offsite SEO being 2 of those. Off the top of my head I would think that several other topics would be:

  • Email collection / targeting (build a list)
  • Semantic markup (schema.org)
  • Local directories
  • National directories
  • Content generation

That’s the short list off the top of my head – from there it’s a matter of coming up with what might be the most important. I think I’ll end up taking the list of what matters the most to my clients and write it up into a short PDF for use as a freebie incentive on my services website. Couldn’t hurt, and it would be so much better for them than coming across one of these relic SEO firms that will submit their site to search engine Hades…

duplicate content stamp

Duplicate Content Is Not Spam

I’m glad I came across this article in Search Engine Land today – I’ve seen tons of forum posts, articles, and heated debates about whether or not duplicate content will negatively affect your site or rankings.

The actual value (25 to 30 percent) seemed high to me, but is not really surprising when you take into account summaries or curation (what the next part of this article is!), product descriptions, and general distribution of information.

Here is the relevant part of the article on duplicate content:

Matt [Cutts] said that somewhere between 25% to 30% of the content on the web is duplicative. Of all the web pages and content across the internet, over one-quarter of it is repetitive or duplicative.

But Cutts says you don’t have to worry about it. Google doesn’t treat duplicate content as spam. It is true that Google only wants to show one of those pages in their search results, which may feel like a penalty if your content is not chosen — but it is not.

That is pretty unambiguous – and makes a lot of sense when you think about it. Why would Google be penalizing the distribution of information? However, that is not to say that blatant copying is ignored:

Matt Cutts did say Google does reserve the right to penalize a site that is excessively duplicating content, in a manipulative manner. But overall, duplicate content is normal and not spam.

From my point of view, this isn’t groundbreaking, but it is good to see it clearly laid out. Many people fret about their information appearing in many sources – but if you have information to share then that’s exactly what you want to be doing. Keep in mind this does NOT refer to having duplicate content on your own site.

Video On Duplicate Content

If you’d like to hear it from the horse’s mouth – here’s a video of Matt talking about the issue:

Overuse Of Schema Markup

There is an interesting question that I have seen asked in several locations without a clear answer – what is considered overuse of Schema.org markup? For example, would a local business owner be in trouble with search engines if their NAP was marked up in the footer of every page of their site?

 Initial Reaction

My initial reaction is that this is ridiculous. It’s common, and sensible, for business owners to have their contact andschema markup for smaller businesses location information on their pages.

So, at the very least you wouldn’t want to endanger converting actual customers to appease search gods – right?

What To Do? Continue reading