In the first part of this entry I dealt with performance, Google Places, Rich Snippets, cloaking and page consolidation. Now follows the second part of ‘SEO Agenda 2011’ with more strategies for Google optimization beyond the standard approaches.
By the way: I have heard that one or more colleagues consider these strategies to be already part of daily business. I hope so too – at least at SEO agencies entrusted with high quality sites. But be honest now – what do readers of this blog think? I look forward to your comments!
6. Content freshness
Please don’t be confused – I don’t mean optimization for Google News. Although this is a rewarding topic (above all for Searchmetrics clients who have all the tools at hand with the Suite’s News module) – but here I’m referring to the ‘natural’ index. And there are many good reasons to keep a site’s content up to date.
- Updating content can/will trigger re-indexing, something you can also encourage with a tweet.
- More and more we’re seeing a preference for current content over older content in results. I can’t prove this with figures (yet), but we’re working on it…
- In an SEO-free reality, webpages would receive new links with new or changed content. Therefore in SEO-reality, it is a good idea to accompany link building with the structuring or updating of content.
A funny example of the preference for up-to-date sites: for the search term ‘pollen count’ – something that is surely not sending any ‘query deserves freshness’ signals for the moment – the first results page is nevertheless dominated by almost daily-updated sites.
Tip #6: Check whether the search results for my keywords are dominated by current content – and then continually publish or at least update additional entries.
7. Image optimization
It’s quite possible that some of you will say that this topic is, as the British would put it, ‘old hat’. But I would argue that in an image heavy topic area, website operators obviously prefer to rely more on supposedly chic image gallery functions than sensible SEO optimization. Or how else can we explain images (see right) from sometimes completely non-fashion-related pages (psd-tutorials.de, free-mobile-wallpapers.com) appearing in the OneBox for the fashion designer label ‘Burberry’. And if you search for ‘designer fashion’, the search engine cannot even find enough images for a OneBox – even though the trend and fashion pages have large-format pretty pictures ready for this purpose. The burberry.com site alone has 8,000 images in the index – but even the strongest regional site (UK) does not have these optimized enough to be shown in the results. We can see all of this using the Searchmetrics Suite Universal Search module:
Only one thing comes to mind when seeing this and that is – damn! All this and the beginner steps for image optimization are not even that hard. Images should preferably be large, built with clean HTML near text and include filenames, ALT tags etc. to display your content textually. But yeah, this is a little ‘old hat’ 😉
Tip #7: Query the image index with site command and check whether these images are also possibly displayed in the OneBox for related search terms. Anyone wanting to know more about this has a terrific go-to guy in Martin Mißfeld.
8. Shop optimization
Does someone entering ‘washing machine’ in a search field want to buy one right away? Or are they more like to be a customer when they enter a product name like ‘Bauknecht super eco 67’? At the moment Google will choose the shop in doubtful cases and will start from a shopping point of view even with very general nouns. Take ‘garden pond’ as an example – surely in this case more searchers are looking for care and maintenance tips than cheap offers…
So – anyone with something to sell on the internet who hasn’t yet busied themselves with Google Product Search should catch up immediately. This is especially true for websites in the local retail sector. These fall into the double trend of ‘local & shopping’ – and, after a short review (see the entry from last week), they have a lot to catch up on.
Tip #8: If you haven’t managed it yet, sign up to Google Merchant Center immediately and start using the possibilities there to communicate products via data feeds.
9. Structuring a site with HTML5
To explain what HTML5 is, let’s start with a link to Wikipedia. And I quote (translated from the German): “HTML5 is a text-based markup language for the structuring and semantic markup of content such as text, images and hyperlinks in documents. It should take over from HTML4.” So –
- HTML is suited for the structuring and markup of content
- and ‘should’ take over from HTML4.
HTML5 also means that you can make moving things on a site without using Adobe Flash and – here it comes for us SEOs – page elements like navigation, side bars, footers and content will be visible. This is certainly one of the reasons why Google loves HTML5 so much – it’s important for the robot to know whether a text or navigation link belongs to the actual content or the footer. And anyone who isn’t operating a link exchange using footers at the moment has an interest in cleanly sharing even these with Google. HTML5 will help with this.
“But the language is still in development”, complains the Technical Director, pointing out how much work is needed to integrate an as-yet unfinished standard in a site – with the danger that you might have to change something again later. To them we answer in a calm voice that the specifications for HTML5 are already quite advanced and hardly likely to be completely overturned. Even YouTube has been testing HTML 5 for video delivery for a year now. Plus, Google built the HTML5Rocks site. The name of this site alone should be reason enough for every professional website operator to be giving it their full attention.
Tip #9: Check if, how and when at least the section elements of HTML5 can be integrated into your code. Plus, a little reading material for the transition period.
10. Developing a ‘brand’ using social media.
I’ve been putting off the tenth and, for the time being, last strategy tip, now for a while. Why? Because I don’t really know at all, what you can/must/might/should say about it. Perhaps one thing – with ‘brands’ in SEO we don’t always mean big brands like Dell, Apple and Siemens. Even your smaller site can be a brand too and, in fact, it IS a brand. The question is only what you make of it. Brands are things that people talk about – logically then a website that you talk about is a brand. Is this making sense? In SEO terms it could be expressed like this: Google checks Twitter and Facebook as well for links and names of websites and records them. And since December 2010, we know that the Social Graph has been included in Google rankings.
So be careful – at the moment prosperity and adversity lie very close to each other in social media. Whoever forgets everything else in the enthusiasm for link building in news services, forums and blogs will certainly be quick to lose their rankings as Google pays attention to balance. This is why this point is so important, to get a balance and full overview of all backlinks.
Back to social media – here we have a small, spontaneous list of reasons why a Twitter account and Facebook page often make a lot of sense:
- Quick indexing of new entries thanks to Twitter.
- Social Graph (that is links and pure references) from Facebook and Twitter contribute to a site’s brand recognition.
- Raising the average visit duration and reducing the bounce rate.
- And even, very basically: more links and more users…
Tip #10: How to bring SEO and social media professionally and purposefully under one roof, explained by Jen Lopez at SEOmoz.
So, that was the Agenda 2011. We will go into a few of these topics more intensively in the next weeks. I look forward to other topic ideas and – in any case – all of your comments. Anyone wanting to take another look at the first part in this mini-series will find more on the topics:
- Website Performance
- Google Places Optimization
- Rich Snippets/Microformats
- Avoiding cloaking
- Consolidating indexed pages
P.S.: Who’s writing this stuff? My name is Eric Kubitz and I am one of the co-founders of CONTENTmanufaktur GmbH Anyone trying to reach me can do so via e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) or on Twitter. ‘Til next time!