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You might have missed the new bookmarking app by Google called Google Stars because it came down just as fast as it went up.

Google Stars (originally spotted by Google watcher Florian Kiersch (who leaked the extension to the rest of us) is the Chrome-centric reinvention of the usual bookmarking we are used to and is said to offer far more features than what we are currently using. You could add notes, share files and folders as well as have filters for auto-categorising by images, web pages and videos. It’s intended to help users save, share and categorize web content.
When the extension is installed, Chrome automatically ‘magically’ collects a history of topics you might be interested in (from previous searches and we assume it will track your future activity) and adds your current bookmarks automatically by date (but you’ll be able to rearrange these).
Before the extension was pulled from the Google web store, search engine optimisation experts like Moz and Ruby Search Solutions had time to look at the interface and observe how this may affect how Google may use their bookmarking extension to further adapt your searches.
It’s easy to see how the underlying process to determine, track and populate your favourites or bookmarks will contribute to Google’s ever increasing objective to know more about you as an individual and use that data to relay information and useful suggestions about what to see, do, eat, experience etc.
Google could therefore base the results of your search on your current frequented sites and bookmarks. Currently, bookmarking is a one-way street. We make a list of our favourite sites and the list sits there until we manually decide which of those sites we would like to use or visit again. But with Google Stars, the search engine can extract info and combine it with your general search and sort the results based on user-defined bookmarked sites, images and videos.

Does this mean that webmasters are going to start paying asking people to bookmark their sites? Or another branch of internet advertising called BookMarketing (you heard it here first folks) will emerge into the vernacular of online marketers?
Hopefully not.

What we can take away from all of this, is the over-used phrase...“content is king”. Produce quality, relevant and engaging content that people will want to bookmark and keep you or your site at the top of their favourites list.

Just How Big Is Apple?

Unless if you've been living on a deserted island somewhere for the past 30 years, you've probably heard of a company called Apple. Heck, even if you did live by yourself on a deserted island for most of your life, you probably still would have heard of Apple (or at least seen their cloud overhead). [ Author : absolutelytrue ]

3 Successful SEO Tips For Off Page Optimization Techniques

Getting the optimization of your website’s content (On Page Optimization) is only half the battle. Off Page Optimization is also equally important for your website to rank higher in search results.

1) Link Building:  The most important part of Off Page Optimization is Link Building. You should try to get as many backlinks as possible from other websites. The number and quality of backlinks is crucial for your PageRank to increase and ultimately to rank higher in search results. PageRank is directly proportional to the no. of unique pages that are linking to your site. If you have high no. of backlinks from the websites with good PageRank, you will have a high PageRank. So, spend some time in getting those backlinks.

Here are some tips to get backlinks:
- Guest Blogging on sites related to your blog niche.
- Press Releases
- Forum Posting related to your blog niche.
- Article Submission to sites like Ezine, Hubpages, etc.
- Blog Commenting on ‘DoFollow’ Sites
- Image Sharing on sites like photobucket, flickr, etc.
- Video Sharing on sites likes YouTube, Vimeo, etc.
- RSS Feed Creation & Submission
- Directory Submission such as Dmoz.org, Technorati.com, etc.
Use of Social Media: Share and promote your content on all the major social media sites such as Facebook, twitter, Linkedin, Digg, StumbleUpon, Reddit, Tumblr, Google Plus and Pinterest. All these sites can bring a huge amount of traffic to your site and also helps in link building.

2) Anchor Text:  Now another important factor in Off Page Optimization is Anchor Text. Anchor Text is the text to form a Hyperlink. If you are not choosing the right anchor text, then all of your efforts of getting backlinks will not be much useful.
For example, If I want to link to this page – http://www.youngblah.com/what-is-page-rank/ and the main keyword is Pagerank.
I can use “Click Here(Anchor Text) to know more about PageRank.

But ‘Click Here’ doesn’t tell Google Bots what the link is pointing to. So, use the link on the keyword.
Right Method(Example), “Click here to know more about PageRank(Anchor Text)”.
So, you should try to get backlinks from other websites using the right Anchor Text to make your site more relevant in Google search results.

3) Best Practices:
- Quality and Natural Links matters.
- Avoid Paid Backlinks.
- Avoid Link Exchange.
- Try to get Backlinks from High Authority Sites or from sites with at least PR 1 or above.
- Try to get Backlinks from sites that are relevant to your content.
- A link in the footer of a website is weighted less by Google than the link appearing on the top or in the main content of the page. [Source: youngblah.com]

How to Identify Search Engine Penalties

If you’ve ever opened your website analytics account and found a significant and surprising drop in search engine referral traffic, you know just how devastating a search engine penalty can be.
But don’t panic!  Not all search engine penalties are permanent, and with a little detective work and remedial action, you should be able to restore your previous rankings and rebuild the flow of organic traffic to your site.
Check these following steps...

Step #1 – Check Google Webmaster Tools

Immediately after noticing a potential search engine penalty, the first thing you should do is check your Google Webmaster Tools account (assuming you have this service set up for your website).  In many cases, when an automatic or manual penalty is issued to your website, it will be accompanied by a corresponding note posted in your Webmaster Tools account, detailing the specific rationale behind the penalty.
Interestingly enough, according to Barry Schwartz, writing for Search Engine Land:
“Google has sent over 700,000 messages to webmasters via Google Webmaster Tools in January and February 2012. That is more than the total number of messages Google sent in 2011 and almost more than what Google has sent since launching Google Webmaster Tools message center.”
While this is certainly a scary prospect for webmasters who fear receiving one of Google’s “Notices of Death,” it is somewhat reassuring to know that you’ll at least be informed if a penalty is assessed to your site.

Step #2 – Check SEO News Sites for Recent Updates

Of course, these notices are often only issued when Google applies a specific, known penalty to a website based on a set of defined criteria.  But what happens when it’s simply changes to the search engine ranking algorithms that have affected your site traffic?
Indeed, there have been plenty of cases where sites received “penalties” that weren’t really penalties at all – they were simply lost rankings due to a reprioritization of the algorithms.  For example, in the case of the Panda 1.0 update, thousands of sites lost rank overnight, resulting in a significant, widespread traffic loss for many industry-leading sites.  Although Panda didn’t technically qualify as a penalty, per se, the results that many webmasters experienced were similar.
To see if an algorithm change is to blame for your diminished search results, check out your favorite SEO news sites for information about potential rollouts.  Often, whenever major changes are made to the search results ranking algorithms, webmasters gather together on sites like Search Engine Roundtable and Digital Point to discuss the impact of the updates.

Step #3 – Determine the Extent of the Penalty

At the same time that you’re combing your Google Webmaster Tools account and your favorite SEO news websites for information about what led to your search engine penalty, take the time to determine the extent of its impact as well.
There are a few things you’ll want to check:
  • Is your site still indexed?  Perhaps the biggest penalty of all is to have your website removed from Google’s index entirely, though this drastic measure is typically only applied in the most serious of cases.  To check whether or not your site is still indexed, enter “site:http://www.yoursite.com” (without the quotes) into Google’s search bar.  If no results appear, it’s possible your site has been deindexed.
  • Have you recently started a new link building campaign?  Often, when you start promoting your site through link building, your rankings can be caught up in what’s known as the “Google Dance.”  In these cases, the search engine is attempting to reevaluate where your site should rank, so it’s not uncommon to see your natural search rankings vary wildly for a few weeks before settling down into their rightful place.
  • How old is your website?  Though Google has never officially confirmed it, there’s a widespread acceptance throughout the SEO community of the presence of a “sand box” filter that issues a dampening effect to the rankings of young sites (typically 2-6 months old).  If your website falls in this age range, it’s not uncommon to see it enter the SERPs and then fall out before it’s deemed trustworthy enough to reenter the results pages.
  • To what extent has your traffic or rankings changed?  Are you seeing a decrease in rankings for all of your target keywords or just a few?  Has your traffic declined significantly or have you only lost volume slightly?  Determining the extent of your search engine penalty will tell you whether you’ve been hit with a site-wide penalty or total ban (in which case all traffic would be affected) or a smaller penalty affecting a single keyword.
One situation that’s often incorrectly regarded as a search engine penalty is the devaluation of some or all of your site’s backlinks, which would typically only affect traffic to a single keyword you’re targeting.  Essentially, what happens is that your site is enjoying unnaturally high rankings as the result of poor quality backlinks.  When the search engines devalue these links – as is the case with the many webmasters who lost rank after Google deindexed several of the most popular blog networks – your rankings plummet, though not as the result of a specifically applied penalty.

Step #4 – Review Your Site Against Search Engine TOS

Now, no matter what the size or scope of your search engine penalty, you’ll want to review your website and your backlinking practices against the Terms of Service (TOS) issued by the search engines.
For reference, the following are the locations of Google, Bing and Yahoo’s TOS statements:
In addition, take a look at Google engineer Amit Singhal’s list 23 questions that highlight the characteristics Google is looking to reward in the SERPs.  Check your site and your promotional practices against these guidelines- as well as against the search engine TOS policies listed above – and highlight any areas you believe may be bringing down your site’s rankings.
As an example, considering the following five questions, as pulled directly from Singhal’s list:
  1. Would you trust the information presented in this article?
  2. Is this article written by an expert or enthusiast who knows the topic well, or is it more shallow in nature?
  3. Does the site have duplicate, overlapping, or redundant articles on the same or similar topics with slightly different keyword variations?
  4. Would you be comfortable giving your credit card information to this site?
  5. Does this article have spelling, stylistic, or factual errors?
Now, take a look at your website in relation to these questions, trying to be as objective as possible.  Can you really say for sure that – based on your site’s external appearance and content quality – you’d be comfortable handing over financial information or labeling your articles as “expert-level content”?  If not, attempt to remedy these flaws by building trust with your user and positioning yourself better as an authority figure within your industry.

Step #5 – Take Corrective Action

If you’ve highlighted any areas of weakness within your site or your chosen link building methods, rectify them as quickly as you’re able to and then follow Google’s rules for requesting areconsideration of your site.  While it may take time to introduce high quality content to your site or to delete low quality backlinks you believe may be harming your natural search results placements, this effort will pay off in the long run, as Google aims to reward sites that provide the best results for their readers.
Keep in mind, though, that what initially looks like a penalty may not – in fact – be a true penalty, and that the corrective action you may need to take in these instances is less about fixing past mistakes and more about improving your own site’s SEO according to current best practices.  The SEO field is becoming more and more competitive each day, so it’s possible that the “penalty” you’re struggling to get over is actually a better educated competitor surpassing you in the rankings.
Do your best to stay on top of the latest SEO news and apply the lessons you learned to your website.  Over time, you should see the results of these efforts rewarded with higher search engine results page rankings and more natural search traffic being directed to your site. [Source: searchenginejournal.com]

How to Create Quality Content for an Running Website

Establishing a comprehensive content strategy for existing pages on your website is a key piece of the search engine optimization (SEO) puzzle, especially considering Google’s ongoing Panda quality updates.

From a strictly on-page optimization perspective, it’s important to make sure that you have content dedicated to the primary and secondary keywords with the highest search volume in your space.

Let’s look at one strategy you can use to both Panda-proof and better optimize your site to grab more of the long tail traffic in your space. Who doesn't like that?

Eliminate Bloat Pages

Before starting to look at where you need content, critically evaluate your site and see if there are unnecessary pages being indexed. Some common examples of this extra fluff that bloats your Google pages indexed are paginated product pages, indexed internal search result pages, and sort options for product pages.

Although solutions for bloat pages are beyond the scope of this post, eliminating these is a must prior to creating a great content strategy. The easiest way find what bloat pages are getting indexed is to run a simple site search (e.g., [site:example.com]) command in Google and explore.

Keyword Research Blueprint for Content Optimization & Content Creation

Keyword research is the blueprint of any content strategy. Although much of the methodology you will use will be determined by the size of your site, here's one good method for small to mid-sized sites.

Keyword Research for Your Strongest Subpages

Assuming that you've fixed any internal duplicate content issues on your site and removed unneeded pages, it is time to beef up existing pages.

Since you're making an investment in content for your site, you want to make sure that pages are well optimized for both relevant and valuable primary keywords. You also want to make sure that you include important variations and synonymous keywords as part of the content strategy for existing pages.

The natural starting point for this kind of research are ranking based keyword tools. Some popular paid tools for this information include SEMRush, SpyFu, and Ahrefs. These tools provide keywords for your site and your competitors, which you can export into a nice spreadsheet. They are great for giving you a good idea of what the valuable keywords for pages across your site are and identifying gaps in your content strategy. You'd be surprised how common it is for pages not to even include the powerful keywords that they rank for in the copy.

Once you vet the data a little bit, you can get a good idea of the powerful keywords that are already bringing traffic to your site. If you have some budget constraints and can’t use a paid tool, you can attempt some of this research using analytics and the Google AdWords Keyword Tool.

One thing you'll find when you do ranking based keyword research is that there are a lot of pages and keywords missing. This means that it’s time to start your exploratory keyword research, which is how you fill in the blanks in your spreadsheet. Although there are many great paid options, Google AdWords Keyword Tool is a nice free solution for this purpose – just make sure to log in to see the full data!

It's a good idea to run at least a couple iterations of your exploratory keyword tool of choice to identify valuable keywords that you don't yet rank for. During this research, not only will you find keywords for existing pages that you may have missed but you will also find whole keyword groups which you'd want brand new pages for.

On a side note, by this point it’s a good idea to break out your keyword list into one primary and a bunch secondary phrases for each page. This can be done using simple highlighting or some other method. Your call.

Keyword Research For Your Thin Deep Pages

Adding content to your deep pages is a funny thing because if you have a large site, there is definitely a cost associated with it. If adding unique content to a large number of pages falls outside your given budget, consider going back to see what additional pages can be done away with in the index.

Depending on the nature of your products and the amount of SKU's you have, SEO based keyword research strategy will vary dramatically. However, let's assume that a given site has a couple hundred or couple thousand SKU's, there are several things to look at for sites of this scope.

First, check that all of the given pages are cached. That may seem like a 'duh!' proposition to some of you, but you'd be surprised how often this is overlooked.

Second, check if there are relevant high value phrases that you can pair with your thin non-ranking pages. It is hard to speak generally on this because so much of this level of keyword research ties into your specific space and how people 'talk' about your kind of products online. One general method that can be used is throwing large swaths of product names into a keyword tool and 'sampling' to see what gets search for and deserves deeper inquiry but this method is not ideal.

Competitor Based Keyword Research

Once you’ve exhausted keyword research for existing pages and exploratory keyword research, it’s time to go gem hunting on your competitors keywords. Use the tools mentioned above for doing this by running keyword reports for all of your competitors and comparing them against your own list and filling it in with keywords that make sense for your site.

Another great thing to look at, if you're not doing PPC already, is what keywords competitors are bidding on that you can consider incorporating into your organic strategy, if you already have not.

Now that you're done with the hard part, you're ready to start actionably using your keyword research for implementing your content strategy and keyword optimization for your pages. In a word, you have your master keyword list for organic search.

Tips for Content Creation

Once your site is cleaned up of all unnecessary pages and you have a plan for the rest of the pages on your site, it’s time to get the pages optimized and the content created. Here are some general pointers:

Keep word count varying from page to page: Try not to have the exact same non-linked word count from page to page. This will make your content look more natural. Make sure that there is a good saturation of synonymous phrases: Google is getting very good at understanding synonymy and they’re working hard to decipher language meaning. Inclusion of secondary phrases is an important part of any keyword strategy. Add value on your pages: See if there is anything that you can add to your pages to make them more interesting. Consider adding widgets to pages or looking at competitors to see how you can improve the value of individual pages or templates on your site. [Source: searchenginewatch.com]

How to Use Facebook Timeline for a Brand

Just when you thought you’d mastered your Facebook marketing strategy, Facebook rolls out one of its biggest changes to date. Now that brands are switching over to Facebook’s new Timelines layout, marketers are scrambling to learn how to leverage Facebook’s newest face. After a bit of research, I found five ways to use Facebook Timelines to promote your brand.

1. Apps for Timeline

Now apps are helping businesses become more visible to the community. When Facebook users add an app, it will appear at the top of their page. All interactions with that app are published to their Timeline. Businesses can create their own apps for their brands to leverage this opportunity for customer interaction and increased visibility.

2. Facebook Actions

Businesses will be happy to see that Facebook is giving users more options for how they interact with brands. Now your Facebook community can go beyond the Like by expressing that they “love,” “want,” or “own” a product. This feature will also help you identify current customers vs. potential ones, based on the expression.

3. The Cover Photo

One of the most noticeable changes in Facebook’s new appearance is the prominent cover photo across the top of pages and profiles. This 840 x 310 pixel, banner-like photo amounts to a lot of free advertising space to promote new products, promotions, events, and anything else creative marketers can think of.

4. More Prominent Posted Photos

Besides the cover photo, photos in general are gaining prominence on Timeline. The new layout allows photos to take up more space than they did on walls, which makes them stand out more on your page. You can take advantage of this feature by sharing photos with your posts to attract more attention to them and to make them more engaging for users.

5. Storytelling

Perhaps the best new feature of Timeline is that it’s set up to tell a story. Since effective communicators tell stories about their brands, products and businesses, this feature fits perfectly into a marketing strategy. Think about your company’s story, and how each of your posts fits into that larger story.

As with any changes in the marketing landscape, those businesses that adapt quickly and learn new ways of leveraging changes into opportunities will come out ahead. Start adapting your Facebook marketing strategy to the new Timeline layout, and let us know about any other ideas you’ve found for using Timeline to its fullest potential. [Source: networksolutions.com]

Preparing for future Google algorithm changes : SEO Aspect

There has been a lot of talk about Google's algorithm changes recently, and it seems most of it has leaned toward the negative. Nobody likes change (especially me with my OCD tendencies), but I think algorithm changes are a positive.

The job of the search engines: There is one main job for search engines, and that is to provide the most relevant content possible for their users. Despite Google's 14 years of advancing its search algorithms, search queries remain anything but perfect. You can still search for shoes and get blenders, and although it will never be perfect, advancements in technology are increasing the odds of your search queries getting more accurate. The more accurate a search engine is versus the competition, the more market share it will attract.
How do you deal with changes? You worry less about what they are changing and worry more about “why” they are changing, and that is to increase search success.

Here are five things you can focus on to help your SEO results improve now and in the future.

1. Don't spam: Search engines have never liked spammers, and neither should you. You are better off not using meta tags than to have them cluttered with keywords. If you use meta tags, keep the keywords under eight and don't list words that aren't even in your content. Also, be careful how many times you are sticking keywords into your content. Search engines are looking for articles with the most relevant content to the search query, not, “Oh, this article has six keywords versus this other that has seven, so it must not be as relevant.”

2. Strategize first, write second: I am a big fan of researching keywords BEFORE any content is written, not after. That way your content has a better chance of being more natural than when keywords are just thrown in there at the end. The better the content, the more likely it will be shared on social media, which also helps your search results. Today, I knew I was going to try to target Google algorithm changes before I wrote even a single word.

3. Social: A great way for search engines to help determine content relevancy and quality is by the amount of sharing divided by the amount of traffic. So it might be cool if an article is tweeted 100 times, but if it takes 10,000 views to get there, a search engine might look at that as a negative over an article getting tweeted 100 times with just 1,000 views. Make sure the title of the article is relevant to the content. If the content is good and helpful, people will tweet it. People LOVE to share — it makes them feel helpful and smart. 

TIPS to improve sharing: People like to click on social media buttons that have numbers more than the old ones that do not, and social media buttons should be at the end of the article in addition to the top. If they read the content, they are at the bottom and you are making them scroll back up to share it. Lastly, don't be a social media button hoarder. You don't need every social media button out there. Clutter hurts sharing.

4. New content: Content becomes less relevant the older it gets in many cases, so search engines are starting to and will be placing more weight on when the content is published. This is why blogs are so great. You can keep writing articles and creating new content even about the same topics and keywords. Plus, search engines know that people would usually rather read an article out that month, compared to an article out five years ago.

5. Be committed to relevancy: If you are going to target a keyword or phrase, make sure that your content is representing it. I am a firm believer that the title, the URL, and the content should be relevant to the keywords you are targeting, not only for search engine rankings, but for making the traffic useful. Search engine traffic is meaningless if no one is buying anything, contributing to revenue in one way or the other.

At the very least, if you stick with these core principles, your SEO can improve when new algorithms are rolled out versus going the opposite way, whether it is Google or any other search engine that is changing its algorithms.

[Source: chicagobusiness.com, By Nick Harrison]

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