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September 30 2010

Do You Think You Understand Rich Snippets in Google?

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As you may know, Rich Snippets in Google are a way to serve enhanced data in the “snippet” portion for a site’s organic listing in the SERPs. With just basic HTML knowledge, you can add enhanced data to your organic listings, such as event dates, reviews and customer ratings. This is a great way to entice the user to click on the link to your site and not have to necessarily rely on the automated text-based snippet that Google may pull from the description meta tag, page content or from DMOZ.

What are the real SEO benefits of the Rich Snippets? User experience is one thing, but what are the direct ranking benefits of incorporating them if a regular description served up in the SERPs will suffice? Google is able to interpret the information much better when a site is utilizing the Rich Snippet’s markup language (microformats and RDFas). Microformats and RDFAs are instructions in the code of a webpage to describe a specific type of information (reviews, products, events or a person).

Known as “semantic markup”, this technology tags different parts of the page with code that “explains” to the computer what the data is referring to. A search engine may be able to “see” the instructions for making chocolate brownies on a page, but the semantic markup will be able to explain to the search engine what the data is referring to, and the relationship between different parts of the data.    

Here is an example of a site using code to generate a Rich Snippet in Google:

Rich Snippet

While there are several types of microformats, Google currently only supports 6 major ones. Those are:

  1. hcard — for marking up business card or profile information
  2. hReview — for dealing with individual user reviews
  3. hReview-aggregate — basically a summary of hReviews
  4. hProduct — for marking up products, prices, and all things e-commerce
  5. hCalendar — pretty self explanatory, dates and appointments
  6. hRecipe — also pretty explanatory. Recipes and ingredients
September 1 2010

Optimizing for “Longer Tail” Keywords is More Important than Ever

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A well structured website with as many uniquely targeted pages as possible will often give websites more reach in the search engines. This is even more important given the fact that, a) Google will now start serving up more results from a website for a particular query and b) Google’s recent “Mayday” update will reward pages that have optimized for “longer tail keyphrases” with better rankings. So, with that being said, how do we ensure that these deeper level pages are crawled, indexed and will rank well?

Matt Cutts of Google recently stated in an interview, “… the number of pages that we crawl is roughly proportional to your PageRank”. If this is the case, then cultivating good links to your site so the PageRank flows to as many pages as possible is imperative so Google and other search engines may find these deeper level pages. Once the spiders get there, they need to see that these buried, internal level pages are targeting keyphrases that are much more exacting or “longer tail” than that of the keywords targeted on the higher level pages.

This is very important information for anyone considering Search Engine Optimization and should be taken seriously to get the best results for your site as a whole. The more you think about keyword targeting for the deeper pages on your site, the more of that valuable search engine real estate you will acquire.

August 31 2010

Top 10 SEO Mistakes

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Many junior SEOs or web developers may think they know SEO, but the truth is they actually don’t. Here are 10 rookie SEO mistakes that seem to be quite frequent:

  1. Inaccurate Keyword Targeting: This can be a big slip-up for most people that are new to SEO. They forget to do the proper research or any at all!
  2. Duplicate Content: Comes in many forms (other domains owned by website with exact content, lack of canonicalization, URL parameter changes etc.).
  3. Poor Title Tags: Title tags are the most important of the meta tags (they are weighted highly by the search engines). They are either too long, too short, duplicated or are missing completely.
  4. Navigation isn’t Crawlable: JavaScript or Flash based navigation is problematic to search engines.
  5. Robots.txt File. Simple text file placed at the root of the domain, it tells the search engine spiders which parts of the site to index and which to skip. Sometimes incorrectly implemented or omitted completely.
  6. URL Structure. Generally speaking, a good URL consists of as few parameters as possible, along with good keyword elements.
  7. Lazy Link Building: Too few backlinks from “hub” or authority sites and too many outbound links to low quality or irrelevant websites.
  8. Internal Site Map: Important for two reasons; for the spiders to find pages they wouldn’t be able to get to otherwise and for user experience.
  9. Fresh Content. This is often overlooked. New content added to a site will get the spiders to return and index more often (it’s good for user experience too!).
  10. Footer Navigation: Gives the spider another place to get to the important pages on the site and, again, is good for user experience.

 

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