Chasing Google SEO: Mobile requirements Updated

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There was a recent update announcement to the Google algorithm and will go live in April and it has to do with being Mobile friendly. Let’s be fair, we were all expecting it to happen as Google has been kinda slow to implement and recognize the value in mobile web traffic. Best of all all, this update has  no secret name or handle for this new update, and you can view it here. The point of this update or revision is concerned with making your site responsive to mobile devices.

How your serve up content to mobile customers is the key to this revised algorithm. Looking at the prerequisites, it doesn’t seem to be much. But it will be a huge jump for those who have traditionally created only desktop type websites for their products and services.

This revised algorithm does not change what is already implemented in Google Hummingbird but builds upon it. So you will have points deducted once it recrawls your site to see if you are mobile friendly.

How Google Tweaks its Algorithms

The general public thinks that Google only tweaks the algorithm on a quarterly basis but in reality, only major changes are updated that way. Every month, the Google team takes a piece of code and takes it apart to better reflect its goal. Sometimes it works and other times it is very turbulent.

You can view the turbulence chart here at MozCast which is calculated on a monthly basis. For this, search engine results (SERPs) are monitored for changes and that’s how the chart comes about.

To be on top of the list, there are a few factors in which you are awarded page rank points. The rest is fair game. The mobile friendly requirement however seems to be more critical, as it will change the page rank of your site if found to be mobile un-responsive.

Responsive Web Design

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Google is going out to woo mobile users. Web traffic for mobile site have increased dramatically over the years and the challenge is to pare down the desktop friendly site so it becomes usable without being a data bandwidth hog. These days, an average website landing page is definitely more than 1MB, this can be even up to 10MB at times and more for those with high graphic demands. Having a RWD site means the server CMS will scale down the data usage to meet mobile standards.

Responsive Web Design is more UX based, but Google has injected it’s own regulations to ensure your site is crawlable. To know if they think your site meets their approval, Google has its own crawlable test, which you can take here.

Mobile SEO Explained

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One of the most pertinent issues are addressed in the new SEO update. The lesser ones, that concernslayout and single page dynamic content is not addressed. Part of the problem is that Google’s own engine isn’t that complex and much of what it does relies on content identification, URLs and linking. There are Schema requirements too, and this sort of optimization requires you to fire up your text editor and to add and tinker with code within the Theme of a CMS.

Much of Google’s new requirement fall into the following criteria:-

  • Speed of loading
  • Dynamic Serving of Pages
  • Keep Resources Crawlable by avoiding robot.txt usage
  • Deep Linking for App-only Accessible Content

Like it or not, if you don’t have any HTML knowledge, you better let someone else do it for you. A CSS sheet, with HTML code is a massive page of text which only the geek in us can decipher. Knowing where to enter the schema friendly code takes some knowledge and please don’t do it unless you know what you are doing. Simple mistakes like using an opening <center> and not closing it with a </center> tag can throw up rendering errors for your theme or page.

This makes things difficult as bug hunting can take hours or days depending on how you approach the problem.

Ranking and the new Mobile SEO

Design wise, Google offers no clues. Should your mobile site conform with page layout requirements like in a desktop websites? I have no idea but this is probably a gray area that Google has not been addressing.

Content has to be crawled. This means that for every link you put up that links to some kind of content, it has to be mobile friendly or else you will get booted off the rankings. Faulty links will be penalized so you have to pay attention to how your site responds to mobile users.

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Should I be Chasing the Page Rank or just make it Mobile SEO friendly?

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When you look at the turbulent state of Google’s Algorithm each time they tweak it, found on Mozcast, you’d realize that the finer points of Page ranks is often fought with a team of full time army of people which many of your have no access to. Every month, Google engineers will implement new tweaks and in the process affect your placing on SERPs. As long as you follow the fundamental requirements, your only other hope is to have a unique branding of content, socially active on social media and refined your site with RWD.

You must not forget that since Hummingbird came into play, the new algorithm is tuned to look out for content that is shared and provide useful information for its users. RWD is there to help your site when Google detects its searches made through a mobile browser and will offer to serve up only RWD sites first.

Google’s main aim is to allow Google Voice Search to do the searching for you in mobile, and as long as you have very thin written content, that in itself will affect your ranking. So if your content consist of mainly graphics, images or video, the only hope for you to reach the top SERP rankings is boost it through social sharing and usage.

No website will completely meet the requirements of Google’s Hummingbird and constant algorithm changes, what you lack, you can make up for it in other areas and chasing the elusive prime spot on SERPS for your product or service category can be better achieved with the use of Google ads. Cheaper too if that is what you are after.

Content 101: Why having a Strategy Matters

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The idea behind having your content is two fold. One is to get on top of a SERP, the second really for social media. Both count towards your eventual goal of reaching the top 10 but let’s not also forget that content plays a huge part of it all. Whenever you do a search, UGC from different sources (country IPs) also help to boost your visibility. Whenever you do a search for a product or service, reviews from consumers and users will show up results that is linked to your brand. This is why having a solid content strategy matters.

Back in the days where social media was nothing more than online communities (it still is btw) you posted stuff you did, stuff you want to do and shared some pictures online. It was like, Buzznet, and my profile is still active there too. Social media like Foursquares, Tripadvisor, Linkedin, Facebook and G+ are intrinsically linked to content found on Tumblr, Blogger and self hosted WordPress sites.

Facebook and G+ changed it all in recent years as your social profile also became your brand and what you associated with. So if you happen to run a business or work for one, they would have their own presence online outside of the traditional website. The game changer was that your businesses could  qualify as an online entity thus was born the need for social media content. This entity should be alive, as determined by Google Algorithms, and updated to show it is alive.

Online Brochureware versus Content Development

Still relevant in today’s online world are online brochures to show you have a company presence for people to drop by and browse your services/products. If you are lucky, they might even send you email. But any long forgotten and undated revision to your website will only show that your strategy isn’t about content but more of a online brochure, with that your SERP gets gunned down by Google for being too plain and unhelpful. Brochure ware sites are Zombie entities, not entirely living or dead so this gets bumped down the search chain over time. Using keywords within your brochure site  isn’t going to help you rise to the top of a SERP but at least you’re somewhere in the top 100, or maybe top 1000. Oh…maybe that wasn’t your intention to begin with?

Why Site Planning Matters

There are plenty of places to host your own online brochure. That one page calling card which you call a website has many advantages, like maybe your email and fax number for contact. However if you want to be found outright in a SERP, you need to invest.

First, you don’t have to do this. Your business is going great and you won’t miss those emails screaming for orders from the darkest corner of Africa. However if you want to sharpen your online presence, you need to take note of a few following details.

1. Migrating to a CMS System

When do you graduate from a website to one that is content friendly? This is time you finally decide to use a CMS or Content Management System. If you have no content, heck you can even do that on a free WordPress account. Free hosting too. It’s done so let it sit! But if you have regular updates (meaning weekly or monthly as opposed to once in a year revisions) then that needs to be managed. There are three popular CMS platforms for self management, WordPress, Joomla and Drupal. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages.  Having a web designer isn’t the ultimate solution. Designers work on design and are totally clueless when it comes to your content needs.

2. Web Designers are Not Content Developers

This is another thing that people have to understand, web designers are not content developers and have little or no regard to what makes your business work. They do not come out with content on the fly or make that work with social media. Designers create sites which suit the content you have or the content strategy you have in mind. They worry about how the system will perform and how the content will look. The also have to think about the back-end system based on your content requirements.

3. Web Designers are not SEO Consultants

Here is another problem people face, if you want to have an SEO friendly site, you don’t hire a designer to do that, this is not their role. 5 years ago, SEO was real easy. You could use Black Hat techniques to fool search engines to display your site ontop of a SERP. There were web tools and even downloadable programs which can do this. Those same tricks aren’t going to work now as the whole SERP business has gotten a lot more complicated. This is where the SEO consultants come in. Today, SEO consultants have to transition to content consultants as their role to find the easiest way to the top of the SERP has gotten so much harder. Most of them are snake oil salesmen. And you know why? They cannot guarantee a metric in which to prove any success. Pageviews or web traffic can be generated without having to hire a consultant, you can pay Google to put your name on top. Web traffic can also be gained by putting up banners on partner sites. SEO consultants can lend a hand to boosting your SERP rank but they cannot guarantee a return on your investment. So go figure.

4. Content is Dynamic

Content has to be shared via multiple platforms that we all know as social media. People want to know what works and how to do things. Even B2B sites need content that showcases their services or products in the best light. This is why so much effort has been given to Google’s Hummingbird update. There is no point of having content that is locked into a particular platform. That platform has to help disseminate your content to a wide audience. This is why YouTube works so well. It is share friendly. You can post videos you made to both G+ and Facebook. However if you post video to Facebook, that content gets locked into that platform and it can’t be shared outside of the FB community.

Google’s algorithm is being tweaked all the time. Every month, they do something to adjust it and this can be viewed on Mozcast, a site that monitors the SERP turbulence created by these minor changes. These changes affect how your content is placed in a SERP and if you are chasing a SERP rank, you probably need to have full time staff monitoring such changes that affect your site ranking.

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5. Know your limits on Budget

From the onset, having a CMS isn’t going to be easy as you need someone to manage it. Then there are other cost factors for each strategic decision. For example, shooting a video and putting it up online might seem relatively easy but you have to ask yourself who is going to do this if you’re not video savvy. The same can be said about graphics for your site. If you want a highly customized graphic, then you need a web designer who knows how to manipulate images in Photoshop or create one digitally in illustrator. Do not expect that to come from one person. Everyone has a different role as what your want sometimes lies outside your intended budget. Let’s not forget the budget for SEO consultants and content developers if you don’t have the time to develop them yourself. All this adds up as part of your ongoing budget.

6. A Dead Site is a COMATOSE Site

There are plenty of comatose sites on the Internet. Businesses who concentrate mainly on existing customers do not update their own company websites when they have new products. This becomes very exasperating for customers when they hear of something new and can’t find any resource on it. Just coz you paid for the hosting and put up a static front page isn’t helping you or your customers in any way. Today, people are information driven. They need information to make credible decisions. Having a static site that sits there minding its own business is a waste of money.

One way of avoiding this is to cross post content from Tumblr, Instagram and even Pinterest to your own website. Social Media management systems like Hootsuite, Buffer and IFTTT.

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IFTTT.com is probably one of the most creative uses of web action fucntiions where you can trigger cross posting of content to various other media channels. The only downside is that it doesn’t support either Pinterest or G+ for the time being but Facebook profile, pages and groups are supported.

Online isn’t cheaper than Print

One of the age old paradigms is that having a website is going to be cheaper than printing a brochure as it was suppose to disrupt the traditional way of doing things. Not anymore. It cost more to get your brand recognize and even more for you to make money from it.

You should instead take websites and social media as complementary channels for your marketing strategy and not rely on it solely to bring home the bacon.

Online has gotten to be as expensive if not more than what it takes to print a brochure. One of the reasons is that technology has made it more complicated to reach out to new customers as everyone else is clamoring for that same piece of the pie. Your voice gets drowned out if you don’t shout loud enough in the marketplace and this is where you need to strategize your priorities. Big brands with millions of dollars in advertising budgets never have to worry because they have what it takes to create their own online presence whereas for the SMB, your budget is limited. Competing with the big names isn’t your priority but find your niche is. This is where you have to formulate strategy to get things going for yourself.

Content marketing is all about attracting eyeballs and you need to spend time, effort and money to make it all work.

Expedia Gets taken down by Hummingbird!

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I am shocked that the Wallstreet Journal has published a report that Expedia.com could have been the target of Negative SEO. This is pure rubbish. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out why Expedia’s SEO ranking fell off a cliff on Google searches. Just tick off what you don’t see on the home page and you’ll know how poorly designed the site is.

Epic Page Optimization Failure

The landing page itself is not SEO friendly. No Site Map, just pure sales links. No quality inbound or outbound links. The Page SEO is fucked. Just look at the damn page and tell me that there is useful content in there somewhere which will be of use to users? Nothing!

To make matters worst, Google Hummingbird zeroes in on content optimization and penalizes pure sales sites. I have said in an earlier post that Hummingbird is designed to take down pure sales sites and Expedia is one that was designed in the 90s with no SEO sense.

Sales, sales and more sales. That’s all the home page is screaming. No wonder they got taken down a few notches.

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Massive Content Failure

There is no content. Ok, I found a some content buried in the “Things to Do” topic but trust me, that’s not content. It is pure sales talk. The tone that it is written in is a third person, describing what you can do. It could have been written by a man with a gun held to his head. Who knows?

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Useful Content is not about giving the facts, it’s about experiences, especially in this case where travel is concerned. They could have at least featured something written by a customer or blogger. But they didn’t. Content to Expedia is a waste of time so here’s another few notches taken down for that.

Total Social Media Failure

sharingHere is something else I noticed. The lack of Social Media engagement. Sure, you have a Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook and G+ button that LEADS to your sales pitches. There is no content there except that it screams Promotions! Sales and Marketing pitches. Again no content to share with fellow users. 

Social Media accounts are used to generate more sales. So here you give  Google credit for taking it down a few more notches.

Failure to Engage Users

Just look at the “Things to do” topic and you’ll also see that there is no user comments or inputs. That is pretty fucked up. The site has no qualms about asking you to put down your money but makes no attempt in getting any feedback on the promotions they have. Here Google pummels Expedia down with a right hook and sinker. The result? You get to be on the THIRD page of the search baby!

Negative SEO is over hyped

Before Hummingbird, Google will send out warning emails to site users who have very poor inbound links. That’s to stop people from exploiting a loophole in the algorithm where they suspect a site has been paying other sites just to put a link to them to boost their rankings.

In a Negative SEO scenario, a competing or rival business can put up poor links to your site to take your SEO ranking down. To me, this is totally irrational and far-fetched as the competition is better off using Black Hat techniques to BOOST their own ranking over yours in keyword SEO during the Penguin and Panda era. Unless your rival in business has got an axe to grind with you, they are better off using their money to increase their rankings than to take you down.

Negative SEO in Expedia’s could have been attributed to poor sales sites designed by incompetent Expedia staff to boost their own web traffic. No content type sites are purely to blame and for that, Expedia’s got plenty of them.

Was Negative SEO to blame for Expedia’s Failure?

Several blogs mentioned that there were some old sites set up by Expedia’s many divisions to boost their rankings and this could have resulted in a Negative SEO hit. This is plausible but these pundits fail to realize that Google’s new Hummingbird algorithm is designed to take down content unfriendly sites.

This is by far the most telling result of Expedia’s failure in its SEO optimization. So what should be done to improve rankings?

Get more travel related content by tying up with travel bloggers and content providers

Each should be written in a first person narrative that provides useful travel information instead of the usual brochureware associated with it. For the money you make off booking, having a travel blog to help your travelers isn’t all that difficult. It cost Expedia loose change just to get original content. Why it hasn’t been done? Well maybe their team doesn’t know how important content is in the Hummingbird age.

Optimize the Home Page to provide Travel Content

Everywhere in the world, national tourist offices will offer you quality content on selected destinations. By integrating the content with travel information, you get to boost your SEO rankings. Bear in mind that national and government-funded tour offices do not offer sales pitches. They offer you seasonal or festive content and all you need to do is work with them to promote a destination.

Revisit Home Page Optimization 

Create quality inbound links. Tie up with travel content entities such as travel magazines and websites to create quality inbound links. Branding is important to Expedia and it should tie up with content providers and pay for these content to be featured on their site. Nothing is free in this world. Once you have content, you will have  comments, and social sharing. These engagements will definitely boost your SEO ranking.

The Cheapest Alternative for Not giving a Fuck

Expedia as a multi billion dollar business entity that can afford to pay for a top level listing on ANY Google search result. This is what Google wants Expedia to realize. You don’t become a multi-billion dollar company and hope that the poor excuse for a website gets top level listing for free.

Expedia can set aside a multi million dollar budget just to advertise alone, and still see positive results without even bothering with content optimization. If Expedia doesn’t give a fuck about content, then advertising for click-thru search results is the best way to go.

Battle of the Titans

Lastly, it is unfortunate that Expedia has become Google’s target. I see this purely as a battle for business by two industry titans. Google owns the search engine space, Expedia owns the travel booking space. Google is discreetly telling Expedia that it wants its fair share of the pie by making it known that Google searches can and will affect Expedia’s stock price. If Expedia can afford to take this hit, well, good for them. If doesn’t, then its time to recognize which turf you are on.

Index your site with a Site Map

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How do Google Search works? Does it come by to my site? How do I make my site friendly enough for Google Search to drop by?

Before you get any idea of a giant robot that powers your searches, let me make it clear that the days of the mainframe and mini computer is truly dead. I should know coz I use to work for a market intelligence company that spies on what people buy to keep their IT department rolling in the hay.

Google is relatively cheap to run. It makes use of server racks (made up of lots of PCs wired together). It comes nowhere near the cost of running a mainframe or supercomputer. Google houses these ‘search’ computers in shipping containers.

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The only thing they have to worry about is the cooling. So if anyone offered the necessary fiber optic cables to carry data anywhere in the world from Greenland, Google will relocate to Nuuk. Cold is good. Dry and hot is not. Dry and hot weather give rise to static, something they can ill afford if Google minions were to come in and out without cleaning themselves with anti-static spray.

How Does the Search Engine Thingy Work?

Just like the old days, they need to come by to index your site. Awesome. Now for some reason or other, Google’s search engine does not need an invitation, at least not in the traditional sense. It checks for links that people post or link to and they will drop by unannounced. There are ways to prevent this of course. One way is to stop them dead with a password authenticator when they drop by the front door. As long as they can’t get in. They won’t spider your site for information.

Making your Site Search Friendly!

Now, I am assuming that you have a site all up and running and you want to make sure that you have a site that is totally working….and I mean this in the strictest sense. Here is something you should know about site indexing.

If you are a commercial website (i.e. a site that advertises what your company does to bring home the bacon) you need to be thorough on how the site index works.

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Make a Site Map of your Whole Site and put it on the Landing Page

This is especially important for sites that are structurally complicated. You may have sections that lead to subsections of a website or pages that are link to external Microsites. Making a Site Map basically allows the search engine to index all those pages from the Home page instead of having to click and jump through hoops to find all your content.

Don’t create sign up Links on any Content Page that needs to be found

Email harvesting. . You are bound to encounter these sites that ask you to register to get access are in fact stopping Search engines from documenting and indexing the hidden content. Google Search isn’t going to bother with this since it is to them a locked door.

As long as the information lies within a blind page, Google can’t get to it. Don’t think for one moment that Google will sign up, wait for an email confirmation and click the link within the email to find out what is behind that closed door.

If you want to harvest emails, invite them to connect with your site using Facebook, G+ or any of the social media networks of your choice. People are not keen to offer up their email if the content isn’t all that great to begin with. Much of the time these hidden PDF “how to publications” are not much help. If the content is any good, they will connect with your fan page eventually. Sell them junk and you won’t find them coming back.

Site owners must think of ’emails’ as a form of currency on the Internet. People will not give it freely thanks to the spam that is often associated with it. Instead, politely ask them to connect with you via a preferred social network and use that link to reach out not only to them but their network.

Remember to include Quality outbound Links within your content for an added boost

What is a quality outbound link? Well it’s one without the sales pitch. Google has determined that any site that has too many outbound links to generate sales should be paying for a listing so you don’t get the royal content treatment here. A good outbound link should be one to more content and not to more retail websites which either sell you porn or a used TV.

Create Original and Quality Content for your Site

Making your site Search Engine friendly is easy and doesn’t need the help of a rocket scientist. Many commercial websites are in fact…brochure-ware. If you think this is going to cut it, think again. It is so 90s. There is no reason why you can’t even add a FAQ page just for content sake. Forget the keyword spiel. You need content and you better get cracking.

Think of ways to help customers by offering tips and reviews. I have found sites that sell Absinthe that does this and it rocks. Empower people with knowledge and they will thank you for it.

 

 

SEO & CMS Equation

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Whats the difference between a Website and a CMS platform? I need an online presence and will it affect my chances of getting a page rank with a CMS?

Not really, no. Websites were terms used in the 1990s for people who wanted online brochures. People needed a way to advertise their presence without having to send out printed company information. This hasn’t changed but how you get a page rank has. Before Google, there were search engines like Yahoo, Netscape, Altavista and Webcrawler. These engines sent out ‘bots’ to index your website and there was a time you needed to do this manually by submitting your domain name to the search engine. Some still do, like Microsoft Bing, you can submit an invite to the resident SEO bot to spider your site and find relevant information. When Google came along with their fancy algorithm, it changed the search landscape. The criteria had to be met before you could be ranked. It started out as all search engines did, badly. Like aged cheese from a farm, it got better over the years and finally people came to trust a search engine to go through their entire site.

Continue reading

What are Content Spinners?

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Love’ em or hate them, content spinners are the boon and bane of the online world. But for those of us who can’t write a paragraph to save our own lives, content spinners become manna from heaven. You load up a stolen page of content, put it through a content spinner and out comes freshly pressed copy, or so you think.

Copyscape Escape

When you steal an entire written page and have that mashed up to look like it was new, there are bound to be problems. First, let’s not delude ourselves that a program with some grammar coding will do the trick.

Content spinners  replaces certain keywords with a Thesaurus equivalent. When you start using spoken verbs and nouns to describe something unique, a machine will fail to understand what you mean and just offer you what it thinks would be an appropriate replacement.  This is how it backfires and you don’t have to go far to test this logic.

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The bottom are spun content and you can see how it goes wrong. The term “demanding” has been replaced with “more requesting” with Spinbot while Best Free Spinner uses the term “additional requiring”. Funny isn’t it? I think a five year old could point out that mistake from a mile. Then again, this could be where award winning comedy writers find their stuff.

Paid Content Spinners

Never trust a computer to output borrowed or stolen content. That said some conniving souls think that it can be done on the cheap. You can avail yourself to the many services that are on offer these days. It’s like dealing with the mafia, you want someone beaten up, it will cost you this much, if you want him permanently tipped over, it will cost you that much, and so on.

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Content Spinning by the Content Mafia?

There are content mafias who use real people to do the job. The hitmen of choice? Writers from third world countries whose second or first language is English. These content mafias farm out ‘assignments’  to writers in places such as the Philippines and India—where they regurgitate the misappropriated content like a bulimic and send that back to you. You get what you paid for and if you’re not happy with the spun content, you can’t have your money back.

Engaging your Audience

Content comes in many forms but are divided into two distinctions. One is that they don’t have a dime of sense while the other is about sharing knowledge or any form of savior faire.

How does Google’s new Hummingbird SEO pick up on content? The secret here is that the new algorithm recognizes how people speak. When you write as you speak, the clarity is in how you structure the words to mean something. Though it is too early to tell if Hummingbird can pick up localized ‘slang’ or ‘creole’, it is safe to say that it can pick up content spun by Spinbots for their ungainly use of grammar.

Content is suppose to engage your audience and not entertain them with some thesaurus inspired double speak. Content spinner that promises you NEW and ORIGINAL content are  lying like born-again politicians.

Even if you did invest into a Content Spinner, you haven’t hit a home run without first cleaning up the mess it created. Worst still is when English isn’t your first language. You won’t have a clue what those spun articles could mean.

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search result for organically grown dildos?

Where can I find Free Content?

Facts will always be facts, you can’t steal facts from another person but how you express it to an audience matters. Hiring a writer to write from a fact sheet is probably the easiest way to developing your own content. Places like Freelancer.com and Guru.com are hives for such talent. If you can’t afford it, then maybe you could ante up on those Google adwords campaigns. That will work for sure. No content required either.

Ok stop groveling.  If you thought I had misled you into thinking that you had to pay for all sorts of content, well don’t because here’s the clue. Go get yourself a journalist/blogger account with PR Newswire.

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Part of the ranking consideration with Google’s SEO in the past (and the foreseeable future  too) is to see how may people carry the same information hosted on different domains. So PR Newswire basically disseminates the press releases and news to journalist and bloggers to write about. The more you bloggers write about these items, the more credible it sounds and up goes the Google Page Ranking.

PR Newswire  offers services to bloggers but at this point, it is just press released. Look for the relevant content from the listed post to find your story. When I was an editor for a magazine, I use to go through all the press releases and if I found something interesting, I would call them up for a more intimate story. Press releases are often very dull, boring and to the point. It can put fishes to sleep if they could read.

To develop original content, just start asking some questions and get some personal quotes from the relevant sources, it will make your content shine. However you still need to have a content strategy in place before you get all comfy.

SEO with Hummingbird

It has been a long wait but the time has come. Google’s SEO criteria has finally caught up with the times.

In Panda and Penguin, both represented by seemingly black and white animals, the algorithm was simple. There was no real room for understanding the content that was on offer. It was either black or white as seen by the Google search engine. With Hummingbird, Google searches starts to see things in color. I hated the Panda and Penguin SEO. It was buggy and open to exploitation by sites trying to sell you malware with a smidgen of spam. When Google transitioned its search algorithms to Hummingbird, I was jubilant. Finally, the searching gets more intelligent with content searches.

I remember Panda and Penguin well. These dumbed down algorithm were the dark ages of content development. Everywhere you went, people used word play—a technique where you used the right keywords for Google to pick up, one could push a website up the ranks. Both Panda and Penguin were based on these old algorithm were at best, Neanderthal— only the keywords mattered. It was like you spoke in grunts and a successful search would deliver the results like magic.

 When Google turned 15 on Sept 26, 2013. It quietly introduced a new algorithm. Now before you jump the gun, you need to understand that the old is still in there and the new indexing will take a few weeks to months to kick in as data collected by the engine will be understood using the new algorithm. There are billions of web pages to take notice of before it starts making sense. Those who do not meet the new requirements will slowly see their page rank sink. And you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know why.

Google takes a Swipe at Commercial Freeloaders

Advertising is what sells. If you happen to have a leeway where people can get a listing for free, why not plug that up? This is the why Hummingbird was put into place. Advertisers and retail websites have long used clever tricks in SEO word indexing to avoid paying for a spot on Google for better page rankings. By changing the policy behind this apparent dumb downed approach of earlier SEO algorithms, Hummingbird has been optimized to recognize the context of your content as opposed to just some key words. Black Hat SEO techniques  used ‘bots’ to post to comments and link that back to their site to trick Google into thinking it was a more happening site than playboy dot com. Since the keyword string has been exploited commercially, Google turned it off. Yep. It no longer works.

Pure retail websites, commercial and business sites will no longer enjoy that sort of page ranking benefit they have in the past with Black Hat Techniques. So if someone keyed in “how to buy a used car”, then you will get real content that addresses your question instead of pointing you to a bunch of used car web sites. To get right to the top, you’d have to pay Google to deliver that result.

Google will prefer to serve up meaningful content to address your woes like…. how do you repair the kitchen sink? What do you feed an Owl? Can I trade my recalcitrant kid on eBay? That sort of stuff.

From Polysemy to Semantic Technology

How do you rank associated terms to content? Easy. By making the technology smarter. Hummingbird recognizes Polysemy (which means a singular term can be use to mean different things) and improves on the Panda and Penguin SEO model to associate more meaningful terms to useful content. In short, Semantic technology is the next phase of development and a notch higher than Information Technology (IT) principles.

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IT is all about storing and processing bits of data while Semantic Technology tries to make sense of it all in the context of human communications. It analyses more words in a sentence for communicative purpose. Hopefully it can also associate a male politician as a prostitute one day. That will be fun. It is this sort of double entendre that the new Google algorithm has to master eventually.

Voice Searches on Mobile

Hummingbird is a byproduct of mobile searches. It came about in 2011 when both Google and Apple decided to wage war to conquer the needs of mobile searching. Siri was born out of that and for that alone, Apple has already prepared itself to enter the search engine business with voice searching. Google was of course threatened and had to respond in kind.

Google and Apple both started offering voice recognition using Semantic Technology. For Siri and Google Now, both these systems had to understand a spoken questions to get answers as opposed to typing keywords to search the web. In the past, it was a one way street. both delivered results by detecting the keywords relevant to your question. Google has gone one step further by matching the context of your question to a relevant content that answers your question before serving this up to you. By recognizing human speech, it can also deliver results based on humanized content sans the sales talk.

Search Timeline 1997 - 2013

2013 marks the era for intelligent search optimization

For What the Future Holds I gotta Wear Shades

Hummingbird will be around for a long time and sites requiring a leg up will have to pay more attention to Content Optimization.

The birth of content optimization is nothing new. It has been discussed and demanded by content creators who spend countless hours horning their knowledge and sharing it with the world only to have it stolen and attributed to someone else who had a knack for exploiting keyword searches. All too often we click onto SPAM during our online searches and this has to stop. Online marketeers who have plagiarized websites for content will have no option but to change directions and move towards creating meaningful content. The future is finally bright enough for content developers to wear shades.

Keyword database has been turned off but will searching with keywords still work?

Google will need between three to six months to ease the new algorithm in. Your search ranking won’t be affected immediately but in time it will. There are millions upon millions of web pages and website that needs to be index, some of which won’t be getting the same high rankings after Google turned off the Keyword database.

Time is what is what Google needs for the new avian SEO to get cracking, those affected will be pure commercial websites that offer bookings, retail and any form of e-commerce. There was a time when all it took to rise to the top of the page ranking was a piece of software that inserted keywords into your page.

Content Optimization with Knowledge Graph

Creating content use to be another term for scrapping RSS news feeds off other sites or putting the stolen content through a Content Spinner to get something that sounded new. With more attention put through to Google Knowledge Graph, we have to relate that content to make up a whole picture and link it to the content originator.

Knowledge Graph is the Future

How do you link a random selection of words into something comprehensible? Well, one effective way is to make it understand what those words through a linking process. For example, if someone searched for a Ferrari F40, Google will piece together the information about the last car that Enzo designed and not link it to Lola Ferrari, the aging porn star with incredible headlights.

Names and terms gets associated with a dossier of information as opposed to data. It is sort of like what the NSA does when they decide to open a file on you. They would have your history, achievements, pet peeves and what you are doing now.

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Knowledge Graph is already live as you can see. Search for something notable and Google will be at your command to dig up as much as it can and even gives you the option to be updated on Google Now cards. As soon as Google digs up new content, you will be notified. Neat.

Content optimization will play a crucial role in the future of SEO. No more tricking Google with Black Hat strategies or hiring writers who just write a nonsensical bunch of keywords to help boost traffic. It is time you ante up on those online cost and it’s not software that you need but  people who can developed real content.