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November 9 2009

Farewell, Keywords

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It has always been the general consensus that the keywords meta tag was no longer recognized by any of the major search engines (Google, Yahoo! and Bing). We now know that to be partially true as Google announced last month that it completely ignores this meta tag and Yahoo! now claims that they haven’t been recognizing keywords for a good while either. Bing, it is claimed, has never recognized the keywords meta tag. What are the SEO ramifications of this?

It is the general belief that the keywords meta tag was devalued by the search engines some time ago as many webmasters used it to “stuff” them with as many keywords as possible in an attempt to rank for as many terms (relevant or not) as possible. The search engines quickly got wise to this and started to eliminate factoring it into their algorithms. From a user experience point of view, keywords are a non-factor, as 99% of Internet users have no idea of what a meta tag, let alone a keyword, is since you can only view them as part of the source code. From an SEO point of view, it is probably one less thing that you have to optimize for; titles and descriptions are now more important than ever.

However, an interesting article in Search Engine Land appeared on October 14th stating that although a Yahoo representative at SMX East stated that Yahoo also ignores the tag, an experiment was performed (placing the random letters   “xcvteuflsowkldlslkslklsk” in the keywords tag) which completely contradicted this. The random letters were placed in the keywords tag of Search Engine Land’s website homepage to see if “xcvteuflsowkldlslkslklsk” would be returned as a search result and it was.

In any event, even though the keywords tag is almost entirely dead, it would still benefit webmasters to utilize it, even for the primary keyphrase for the page, as some search engines still use it and Google and Bing may change their minds and use it as part of their algorithms in the future, even if they don’t announce it.

October 12 2009

Named Anchors in Google Snippets

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On September 25, Google announced a new feature on their official blog that allows users to “jump” to specific sections of a webpage directly from the “snippet” underneath the link in the search engine results pages. These “named anchors” work differently from the Google site links in that they allow for people to get to the part of the page that contains the actual information they want based on their search queries.

“Named Anchors” in search results snippet:
namedanchors    

We can see from the example in the above screenshot, taken from Google’s experimental platform “Caffeine”, the named anchors helps the user get an even more relevant search experience in that the user can now skip the excess information on a page and get right to what they want.

In essence, the use of “named anchors” in the snippets will assist the user to find the specific information they are looking for much faster and encourage webmasters to create well constructed pages with proper sections with good sub-headers. If a webmaster focuses on utilizing keywords in H tags (any words wrapped in an “H Tag” is given more weight in search engines”) and making the page divided in a logical manner, they have the opportunity to improve inbound traffic as any snippet with a named anchor will more than likely inspire more people to go to their page.

September 9 2009

Geo Targeting Your Website

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According to Wikipedia.org, Geo Targeting is, “the method of determining the geolocation (the physical location) of a website visitor and delivering different content to that visitor based on his or her location, such as country, region/state, city, metro code/zip code, organization, Internet Protocol (IP) address, ISP or other criteria”.                                    

While it is not imperative that all websites focus attention on geo targeting, local businesses can benefit greatly, especially if your marketing budgets for more traditional marketing are limited. Simple methods such as adding the contact information for the business to the homepage content and meta data can increase your chances of showing up in local search directories or in the local results on Google.

Other good SEO techniques include adding county and city names to the page to narrow down the keyword targeting for the page.   For more internationally minded geo targeting, webmasters need to keep in mind the different terminology used in other countries. In the UK, web surfers will use different terminology than their contemporaries in Africa.

  • What does Google look for?
  • Your address and keywords listed on your site
  • Your address and keywords listed on other sites
  • Your address and keywords listed in local directories
  • Reviews of your business
  • Domain Name

Submitting to Local Search  
At the very least, local businesses should start out by submitting to the oldest and most trusted of the directories (Yahoo! and DMOZ). After that, they should go for the large traditional business directories as they tend to rank well for many local terms. This increases reach in the search engines and positions the business as a local and trusted entity within its community.

Local Directories for Small Businesses to Consider:
Yahoo local — Very Important
Yelp.com
Yellowpages.com
Brownbook.com
Merchantcircle.com — ranks well
Citysearch.com
Superpages.com
Insiderpages.com — ranks well

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