Articles in the Tips & Tools Category

Get simple, actionable information you can use to gain insight into SEO, content production, competitor data and more with our SEO Tips & Tools blog posts. Learn how to use a variety of tools and browser plugins to see your website how the search engines see it, and find opportunities to enhance your content, link portfolio and SEO.

January 15 2013

Introduction to Google’s Data Highlighter Tool

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In the past we have covered the value of utilizing rich snippets which present search engine users with more detailed information about what is contained on the page before they click through to it. If you are unfamiliar with what rich snippets are, or the possible benefits from using them, take a look at two of our blog posts that cover the subject:

Now that you are familiar with rich snippets, it’s important to keep up to date with resources and tools that can make you or your web team more efficient. It is in this interest that Google has released the Data Highlighter Tool. This tool allows you to tag the data fields on your website using a mouse and does not require any coding. Currently, only event data is able to be marked up using the Data Highlighter, but Google says that more data types will be supported soon!

Event data that can be marked up includes:

  • Name — The event name.
  • Date — The date, date and time, or date range of the event.
  • Location — The venue name and address of the event.
  • Image — An image describing the event.
  • Official URL — The URL to the official website of the event.
  • Category — The category of the event.
  • Performer — A performer in the event.
  • Ticket offer — A description of the price information and the price of admission.

Additionally, it is important to note that the data highlighter can only be used on pages that have been recently crawled by their spider Googlebot. One easy way to see if the page has been crawled is to check to see if Google has a recent cached version of the page. This can be accomplished by:

  • Copying the specific URL of the page you want to check
  • Typing cache: and then pasting the URL after the colon

For example –     cache:www.example.com/page-1

If Google has a recently crawled and cached version of the page, the page will load with a box near the top that looks similar to the following screen grab:

This tool will be expanded by Google in the near future to support more types of structured data, but if you are more eager to learn about it now, visit the Google’s Data Highlighter page here: http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=2692911&topic=2692946&ctx=topic  

Do you see this as being an easier or more efficient way to mark up the structured data of your website? A more detailed post on how to use Google’s Data Highlighter will follow this one, so check back with our SEO blog to learn more.

January 11 2013

How to Find out who is Linking to Your Website

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It is a well known fact by most of those who own or operate a website that having links to your website on other companies or people’s websites is beneficial for a few reasons:

  • They can provide relevant traffic to your website, if for example a news article is written about your company.
  • They can provide great PR; the more visibility that your company can achieve the better.
  • They can benefit you in regard to Search Engine Optimization, as long as they are high quality.

But many people wonder, “How do I find out who is linking to my website?” Google provides a tool to see when your website has been linked to, what websites are linking to yours, and what pages on your website people linking to.

All of this data and more can be found in your Google Webmaster Tools account. If you are unsure if you have an account, check with your webmaster or IT team in order to verify that you have access. If you do not, it is very simple to set up. Have your webmaster or IT professional visit this link to the help article from Google about how to verify your website with Google’s Webmaster Tools.

Now let’s go over how to find out who is linking to your website. Once you have verified your website with Webmaster Tools, visit www.google.com/webmasters/tools/ to log in to your account dashboard. If you are managing multiple sites, they will all be listed in your home dashboard once you log in.

Next, select the website that you wish to collect your data from and you will see a more detailed dashboard than the previous one. This dashboard is specific to the website that you have just selected.

The next step is to click the option that reads “Traffic” on the top left side navigation of the page. This option will be the third possible choice below “Messages.” A drop down menu will appear that gives you the following 3 options:

  1. Search Queries
  2. Links to Your Site
  3. Internal Links

*Note: They will not be numbered in your webmaster tools account.

Select “Links to Your site” and you will see 4 separate sections of data.

  1. The first is “Total Links” which will be located near the top of the page. This includes the current total number of links that Google has found on other websites that point to yours. Not all links to your site may be listed; however this is the most accurate source available.
  2. The second is “Who Links the Most.” This data includes the list of domains that contain links to your website. It is also sorted in order from domains that contain the most links to your website, to domains that contain the least number of links to your website.
  3. The third is “Your Most Linked Content.” This section displays the specific pages on your website that have the most inbound links pointed toward them.
  4. Finally, the last section is “How Your Data is linked.” This section displays the anchor text found within the inbound links to your website. Put plainly, anchor text is the visible text that a person can see when clicking on a link. For example the proverbial “click here” text.

Lastly, the data for numbers 2, 3, and 4 above can be downloaded to a .CSV or Google Docs file. This is done by clicking the “More »” link beneath any of the sections then selecting “Download this Table” near the top of the page.

You also have the option to:

  • “Download More Sample Links” which will download the data from Google about specific pages on other websites that contain links to your website, and will not sort them in any specific order.

Or

  • “Download Latest Links” which will download the data from Google about what links have been recently found that point to your website along with the date that Google discovered the link.

Now, take this data and make use of it. What pages on your website have been more popular than others? Is everyone only linking to your homepage, and not specific internal pages? Are there websites linking to yours that would make a good partnership?

February 10 2012

SEO 101: Internal Link Structure

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One of the fundamentals for constructing a website with SEO in mind is ensuring that all of the pages for the site are accessible to both the site’s visitors and the search engines in as concise a path as possible. Internal link structure is an important factor in determining a site’s performance in the search engine results pages. The faster a search spider can access all of your pages mitigates server latency and will make sure your most important pages are served in search results. Also, by linking explicitly to all of your top level, category and service level pages, you are alerting the search engines to their relative importance on the site.

Firstly, focusing on your “click depth”, will largely guarantee that all important webpages can be accessed within as few clicks as possible, mitigating issues such as site visitor “bounce rates” (single page visits) and search spider crawlability issues. However, in this day and age of advanced web design technology for coding navigation on a site, many websites are still programming internal links with “un-friendly” coding language, such as complex JavaScript and Flash or just using images.

While Google and Bing say that they are much better at crawling links that aren’t text based, it is still prudent SEO strategy to code links to your website’s main navigational section with plain text, formatted with CSS (Cascading Style Sheets). CSS is essentially a language used to improve the look of a webpage, including the look and feel of a web document and the links that reside on it. While using JavaScript or Flash technology may be aesthetically pleasing, it is not the most efficient way to help the spiders access the important parts of your site. JavaScript has some really nice features, such as the “onMouseOver” command which denotes that something will happen when the mouse passes over the active text in a link. However, this same effect can also be achieved in CSS with the “a:hover” CSS property.

If using less SEO friendly coding elements is something you just can not avoid (because of CMS constraints or the website architecture is not conducive to coding manipulation), web developers can always make certain that their site’s pages are also accessible via the internal, html sitemap page, the external XML Sitemap pages and footer navigation.

If you want to analyze the internal links on your site, Google Webmaster Tools has a section that will let you view how it sees these links and how many other links from your site are pointing to them. From the Webmaster Tools dashboard go to: Your site on the web>>Internal links. This will list the pages on your site (listed underneath the “Target Pages” column”), along with the associated count of links Google has found to be pointing to them:

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