Tag Archives: SEOmoz

Google Myths and True Ranking Factors

20 Jul

Google Myths and True Ranking Factors

 

Author: Cyrus Shepard

Did you know that if you include Google Adsense on your website, you are likely to rank higher?

We’ve heard this rumor before from prominent SEOs. It makes sense. Google stands to make more revenue by promoting websites that display its ads. Exciting? Yes.

But completely not true.

Well meaning folks spread a lot of Google myths that can harm your SEO efforts.  Sometimes they come from your boss or even an Internet hack trying to make a quick buck.

Earlier this month SEOmoz released the 2011 version of its Search Engine Ranking Factors. This year’s survey contained a number of new insights, but also debunked a number of Google myths that have persisted far too long.

Myth #1 – Using Google Services Improves Your Rankings

Many webmasters believe that installing Google Analytics on their site improves indexing or that displaying Adsense will help them as described above. While it’s true that the insights provided by Google Analytics helps are invaluable, the service itself has absolutely no impact on rankings.

In the case of Adsense, the correlation data actually shows a negative correlation between Adsense slots and rankings. This makes sense, given the recent Panda update and Google’s emphasis on high quality content.  The data implies that the more Adsense on your page, the less likely you are to rank.

This isn’t to suggest that you shouldn’t display ads at all. Best practices are to ensure your original content to ad ratio is high, and to place your original content prominently above the fold.

Note: Google Analytics is a super useful service and I recommend every website owner should create a Google Webmaster account.

Myth #2 – Keep Your Link Juice Internal

It’s the pet peeve of online marketers. Another website mentions your brand – heck, they even write an entire article about how great you are – but they fail to include a single link to your site.

This anti-social behavior stems from the false belief that you should preserve link juice within your own site to improve your rankings. It also springs from the absurd rational that you don’t want visitors to leave your website – ever.

Contrary to this thinking, the Ranking Factors correlation data actually shows the opposite relationship. There exists a positive correlation between the number of external links on a page and higher rankings.

  • For years top SEOs have share anecdotal evidence that linking out to quality, relevant sites improves their rankings
  • Linking out fosters goodwill among webmasters and visitors alike, which can lead to an increase in backlinks and other positive ranking signals
  • External links can help Google to better understand the content on your page

Myth #3 – Nofollowed Links are Worthless

Yes, followed links still rule, but one of the most surprising results from this year’s Ranking Factors was the negative correlation between the percent of followed linking pages and ranking ability.

What this means is the higher percentage your link profile is in followed links, the less likely you are to rank. It’s not a big correlation, but it exists. For example, if 100% of the links pointing to your site are followed, the correlation data predicts a lower ranking for your site than a website with a link profile of only 80% followed links.

Surprised? It stands to reason that the natural, healthy link profiles Google favors contain a range of nofollowed links and citations. We’ve believed for years that nofollowed links from high authority domains like Wikipedia, although they don’t pass PageRank, act as ranking signals.

This also makes sense considering the strong correlation data surrounding link diversity. One of the strongest indicators of ranking ability is the number of linking root domains. This means the greater diversity and breadth of your link profile, the more likely you are to rank higher. A broad, diverse link profile undoubtedly contains a number of nofollowed links. This is also an actionable metric that you can use to improve your SEO.

Good SEO is hard. Use science and best practices to ensure SEO myths don’t get in your way.

As SEO Strategist for SEOmoz, Cyrus Shepard helps guide content strategies, link building, customer education, information architecture and feature development for the fast growing SEO software company. His diverse experience includes innovative SEO, paid search marketing, web design and a strong background in customer-focused services. Follow Cyrus on Twitter @cyrusshepard

 

The Role of On-Page SEO Content: Relevance, Not Rankings

16 Jun

The Role of On-Page SEO Content: Relevance, Not Rankings

Author:  Eric Enge

People love to talk about the ways that search engines determine their rankings. I always advise our clients to stay away from trying to find “the edge of the algorithm” or any practices that are manipulative because of the risk these tactics carry, but the search engines continue to have many limitations on what they can do, and how they interpret what they see.

Therefore it is prudent for publishers to understand the landscape, and do the right things to make the job of the search engines easier. The SEOmoz ranking factors survey includes a great pie chart showing an estimation of the weighting of the various ranking factors:

seomoz-ranking-factors.jpg

However, this picture was reshaped back on February 23 with Google’s Panda update. With this update Google added the notions of user engagement and content quality firmly into the mix. This led me to more recently propose a different view of SEO ranking signals:

seo-ranking-factors-2011.jpg

As you can see in this model, I guessed that the broad category of social engagement and content quality now represents a large 20 percent piece of the Google rankings pie. As I defined it, this piece includes a variety of user engagement signals, such as the way people interact with your site, some form of evaluating the content itself, how your metrics compare to competition on a per search query basis, and more.

I should also note that less is currently understood about the way that Bing is using similar signals, so this discussion is oriented around Google, but Bing is likely doing similar things.

Let’s Go One Step Further

When I speak with people about on page SEO, I often refer to it as being required to gain “entrance into the competition”:

entrance-into-the-competition.jpg

What I mean by this is that you can’t compete for ranking on a specific keyphrase unless your web page provides signals that suggest to the search engine that the page is a good match for the user query. For example, if your page is about Tupperware (for example, look at this page), there is little chance that you can get that page to rank for the term “used cars.” It just isn’t relevant.

Of course, a few years back there was the notion of Google (or link) bombing, where SEOs ran some experiments to make irrelevant pages rank for various search queries solely through implementing lots of links to a web page using a target keyphrase. Search engines have mostly solved this problem.

So far this is all pretty straightforward, but the notion I’m putting out there today is that from an SEO perspective that on page content is not a ranking factor. It is solely about helping establish what search queries your page might be relevant to.

Here’s what an adjusted ranking factors chart might look like if you take this into consideration:

seo-ranking-factors-2011-adjusted.jpg

This may be a subtle mental shift but I think it is am important one. If you work with clients, or within an organization, with people who have a limited understanding of SEO, you can often find yourself in discussions where they are unwilling to make adjustments to on page content, because they don’t see why they should make those changes. They may not realize that the result of that is that those pages end up having no possibility of ranking for a particular term.

There is also the flip side of overemphasis. I have encountered countless people who think that SEO begins and ends with on page SEO.

“I’ve optimized the site itself, so I’m done, right,” they ask.

Well, no, you aren’t. It simply buys you a ticket to the competition (it makes you “relevant” to the query).

This is an essential step to success. You don’t get to play without it, but there is far more work to be done before you can declare victory. This is the link building, and engagement optimization which make up a full 96 percent of the rankings picture in my adapted chart.

One side note: the only way on-page optimization can enter into the rankings chart is if you engage in keyword stuffing of any kind. This is still something that you can encounter on the web, and I believe that any sort of abusive practices can become a negative ranking factor, but for purposes of my chart, I have chosen to start with the assumption that this type of practice isn’t a consideration.

Summary

I use this mental model when I think about SEO work, and it helps me get to a really clear picture on how I spend my time. It also helps me get others focused on where time is spent, and how the major components of the SEO world fit together.

You can’t participate without addressing on-page SEO (after all you won’t be relevant), but you can’t win without addressing the promotion and user engagement pieces of the puzzle either.

As always, bear in mind that your publishing strategy should begin and end with understanding what unique value you can bring to visitors to your site and how best to provide that value to them. This is the first and most critical element of SEO.

Being mindful of the limitations of search engines and making their job easier is another necessary step in the process. To that end, provide clear keyword based signals as to what your pages are about. Make sure you are in the competition as your first step, and then set out to win it with an effective marketing strategy for your site.

For the original article go to: http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2065492/The-Role-of-On-Page-SEO-Content-Relevance-Not-Rankings


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