Juice Up Your SEO Campaign With Authoritative Directories

When most people think of web directories these days, the first thing that comes to mind is low quality, spammy links that will never bring a single visitor to your site and may actually do more harm than good to your SEO campaign. While this is true for many web directories, there are actually still a lot of great authoritative directories out there that are definitely worth the time and effort to get listed on.

There are niche and special purpose directories that can both improve your rankings in the major search engines and drive a little traffic to your site. The trick is finding these quality directories, and to get you started, I have compiled this list of great directory submission sites and ideas.

1. Niche Directories

A niche directory is designed to feature sites that relate to a specific subject. For example, if I have a travel site, I would look for quality travel specific directories to submit to. Running a quick Google search for “list of travel directory sites” produces a great list of travel directories on DMOZ and Directory Clinic to get started with.  By just following these first two organic results, you already have a list of well over a hundred potential travel directory sites to submit to.

Create a spreadsheet of all the niche directories you find for your specific niche. Next to each directory, note the PageRank using a PageRank tool and whether the directory is free, requires a reciprocal link, or if paid, how much it costs. You might even want to check out the amount of traffic each site gets by using Alexa.

Now look over your options to figure out how to get the most bang for your buck. Your main focus should be on high PageRank directories that offer free submissions, but don’t pass up a really good link on a site with a very minimal one-time fee. Personally, I wouldn’t recommend wasting time submitting to directories with no PageRank because often these directories were flagged by Google.

read more: http://www.seo.com/blog/juice-up-your-seo-campaign-with-authoritative-directories/

Danny Sullivan Presents At SLC|SEM’s February Event

I feel fortunate to work for a company that invests in ongoing training and education for its employees and consider it a huge perk that I have the opportunity to attend SLC|SEM’s monthly events. I was especially looking forward to last night’s presentation by Danny Sullivan on search marketing trends and best practices.

In case you’re unfamiliar, Danny Sullivan is the editor in chief of Marketing Land and Search Engine Land and is also considered by many in the community as “the godfather of search.” Danny was kind enough to take a small break from a ski vacation in Park City with his wife to speak to members of Utah’s digital marketing community at the new Adobe building in Lehi.

The following is a quick recap of some of the key points and takeaways I wanted to share with those that weren’t able to attend last night’s presentation:

A Lot of Things Change, but a Lot of Things Stay the Same

Danny started the evening off by telling us there’s no revolution going on in search. Regardless of the latest algorithm updates, new social media platforms, link devaluations, etc., people still type in a query and get results. Danny added perspective to this thought by reminding us that it’s Google’s job to resolve a query as quickly as possible and our job to make sure that our websites provide the most relevant results for that query: “At the end of the day it’s all about your audience and the user experience.”

Danny called the recent changes, trends and developments in search marketing more of an “evolution, not a revolution.” Danny was careful not to discredit the merits of new opportunities and search survival strategies, but also encouraged us to go back to the basics. As far as where we should be spending our time, Danny pointed to the 65% search market share Google holds in the U.S. and said it’s wise to focus the majority of your efforts where most people go to get their information.

read more: http://www.seo.com/blog/danny-sullivan-presents-at-slcsems-february-event/

3 Simple Gmail Hacks To Keep You Organized

Gmail has become synonymous with email in recent years, and more businesses are using Gmail for their corporate email. In June 2012, Google announced an impressive 425 million active Gmail users across the globe. Whether you use Gmail for your business or personal email, there are several ways to get the most out of your account.

Here are three simple ways to get more out of Gmail on a daily basis:

Use Filters and Labels to Organize Incoming Mail

Gmail LabelsAs a Gmail user for business purposes, I want my incoming mail to be sorted as effectively as possible so I can immediately know where I should start reading. I have my inbox organized so that any email coming from any corporate office I communicate with skips the inbox and gets filed under a “Company” label. At the same time, it goes into a subfolder organized by office. For example, when I receive an email from my contact in the Carolina office, it shows up in both folders. That way, at a glance I can see how many emails are waiting for me, and which offices I need to look at.

Under each subfolder, I created a “Sent” folder, so that with one click I can easily see what correspondence I’ve sent to a specific office.

Taking a few moments to set up filters and labels has saved me hours of searching for sent and received emails. It has also made my day much easier to jump into than if I were just digging into a pile of unsorted emails.

Use Gmail to Manage your Task List

I use my task list on a daily basis to keep track of my most important “to-do’s” for the day. Gmail has been a huge help in keeping me on top of that list.

First, click on the gear icon in the top right corner of your Gmail screen. In the “Settings” menu, make sure that the Keyboard Shortcuts option is enabled.

Next, whenever an email comes in with an action item, press Shift + T to create a task for it. The subject line of the email becomes the task name, with a link underneath to the related email. The task bar stays at the bottom of my Gmail screen, where I can expand or minimize it as need be. My team members know that if they need me to work on something, they include “TASK:” at the beginning of their subject line so I can appropriately tag it.

read more: http://www.seo.com/blog/3-simple-gmail-hacks-to-keep-you-organized/

The State of SEO: The Experts Weigh In – Part I

Search engine optimization is an ever changing industry.

As Google’s algorithm becomes more refined, so does the approach we take to SEO. At SEO.com were hyper aware of what other say about “SEO” and we’ve seen our fair share of “SEO is dead” blog posts. Let it be known that SEO isn’t dead, it’s simply evolving. Now more than ever SEO has become an integrated marketing approach that encompasses public relations, social media and content marketing in addition to traditional SEO tactics. In the first post of this 3 part series (be sure to read part 2 and part 3), I interviewed SEO.com’s brightest and had them comment on the state of SEO, content marketing, Google Authorship and Conversion Optimization.  Here’s what they had to say:

Ash Buckles, President of SEO.com on the State of SEO:

Ash Buckles state of seo

SEO is the culmination of strategy and tactics that prepare and promote your web-based assets (web pages and other content) for the greatest search engine visibility. This includes web pages, PDF documents, images, videos, blog posts, news stories, slide decks, Pinterest boards, product shopping feeds, social media updates, data sets, and every other form of content.

Until a few years ago, search engines displayed primarily web pages or documents and everything else was found elsewhere; think YouTube. Now, they embed videos directly in some of the search engines results pages (SERPs) depending on user intent and available video content.

Understanding the purpose of your content, and available distribution channels, is critical to integrating your marketing efforts. For example: you can produce blog posts to have fresh content for the robots/crawlers or deliver value to your subscribers and engage them by delivering consistent value; which in turn provides fresh content for the search engines to crawl, index, and rank.

Today, Google and Bing data power over 95% of U.S. search queries. This is more than any previous months in search engine history. Between these two data giants, more than 14 billion searches are performed every day. Yahoo is slowly losing market share even after attracting Marissa Mayer away from Google. They’ve partnered with Bing for its organic search data and just signed a non-exclusive deal with Google to display paid ads on some of its properties.

read more: http://www.seo.com/blog/the-state-of-seo-the-experts-weigh-in-part-i/

Tracking Google Searches During The Oscars

Google is revealing how the Oscars impacted search behavior during the awards show Sunday night, and released the data on their Google+ page.

Google Top 5 Most Searched Oscar Nominees

According to Google, the top five searches at the Oscars were Jennifer Lawrence, Daniel Day-Lewis, Anne Hathaway, Life of Pi and Les Misérables.

Google tracked and plotted the real time searches at google.com/oscars.

read more: http://www.seo.com/blog/tracking-google-searches-during-the-oscars/

6 Critical Questions To Ask An SEO Agency Before You Even Think About Signing

Knowing what to look for in an SEO firm is tough business—there are likely several options that must be narrowed down to the one that can provide the solution which best fits your goals, budget, and that you believe will deliver the results you desire.

Asking intelligent and relevant questions can help you determine which agency’s services will best fit your vision for your company’s online marketing strategy.

Here are 6 key questions to ask a prospective SEO agency before you sign that dotted line:

1. What sets you apart from other SEO agencies?

This is an easy way to sort out which agencies provide a unique value to you and which ones don’t. If the company can’t give you a strong answer to this question you’re left to assume that it is because the answer is “absolutely nothing.” You’re much better going with an agency that understands its strengths and is constantly striving to develop them. Any agency that isn’t conscientious enough to manage its own brand reputation shouldn’t be paid thousands of dollars to ruin yours.

2. Can I Speak With A Long-Standing Customer (Or Two)?

The best way to get a real view of what working with the firm is like is to speak to a current client. The most helpful would be a business in a similar competitive sector as you. Any agency worth your time should have a few clients willing to speak as “client references” to their expertise, just as any job applicant would.

read more: http://www.seo.com/blog/6-critical-questions-to-ask-an-seo-agency-before-you-even-think-about-signing/

Navigate the Great Google Sea with Power Searching

Many SEOs have logged an untold amount of time and energy adrift in The Great Google Sea–lost in a wake of mediocre results. Good news, you don’t have to be Garrett McNamara to surf like a boss. Google created power searching tools to help you find exactly what you are looking for in the least amount time; you just have to know how to use them. To that end, Google offers self-paced Power Searching and Advanced Power Searching courses to teach you how to navigate to the treasure of SERPs you seek.

Dr. Dan Russell has a cool job. He is a research scientist at Google. Dr. Russell leads the power searching classes online, hosts the accompanying Google+ Hangouts, and operates a related blog called Search Research. Oh yeah, plus, he is part of the team at Google that controls how search engine optimization works. The experiments carried out by his team are what lead to algorithmic updates, such as Panda and Penguin, which directly affect SEO strategy on a daily basis.

Power Searching Courses

You can take the Power Searching courses at your own pace or you can add yourself to the Search Education Google Groups mailing list to receive updates about upcoming courses and other related opportunities.

If you successfully complete the two course assessments, you will earn an official certificate of completion from Google. In your first Power Searching course, you will participate in six classes that focus on how Google works, the art of keyword choices, word order importance, and how to use some advanced techniques, like search operators.

Each lesson has a 3-10 minute video and followed by a hands-on activity that will give you an opportunity to practice what you have just learned. There is a mid-term after the third class that counts for one-third of your final score, and another assessment after the sixth class that counts for two-thirds of your final score. A score of 70% or better is required to pass the course. Each lesson also has a text version, in case you prefer to read the lessons instead of watching the videos.

In the Advanced Power Searching course, Dr. Russell will take you through a series of challenges that will help you hone your research processes so you can practice and develop your advanced searching skills. Every challenge is rated easy, medium, or hard based on level of difficulty, but each of them are designed to be completed in less than one hour. When you complete these challenges, you will also be able to see how others solved them to give you a better understanding of how to use Google search tactics. You will also explore more search operators, additional Google properties, like Google Scholar, and learn how to refine searches and search strategies.

read more: http://www.seo.com/blog/navigate-the-great-google-sea-with-power-searching/

71 Chrome Extensions for Blogging & SEO

Editor’s note: This post is an oldie, but a goodie. It was originally published March 2010 and it warranted an update. Do you have any favorite Chrome extensions for search engine optimization or blogging? Share in the comments below!

***

I’ve converted, but my first experience with Google Chrome occurred in 2009 and it was not a positive one. It was disappointing and frustrating. However, after fighting with Firefox, which crashed many times daily and demanded updates that slowed browsing and constantly interrupted me, I gave Chrome a second chance.

My biggest concern was the lack of extensions (“plugins” for Firefox users), but after about an hour on the Google Chrome Extensions site, that was no longer a problem. So, I’ve compiled a list of the best Chrome Extensions for SEO and a few other can’t-live-without extensions (in no particular order).

1. SEO for Chrome

chrome-seo

Includes page, backlink, traffic and rank stats, and more.

[download & install now]

2. SEO Site Tools

seo-site-tools

Includes internal and external page data, social media stats, server information and more.

[download & install now]

3. Google Similar Pages beta (by Google)

similar-pages

Shows pages similar to the Web page you’re currently browsing.

read more: http://www.seo.com/blog/71-chrome-extensions-for-blogging-and-seo/

Peter Shankman Takes Utah: Tips For Businesses Building Their Social Brand

Peter Shankman is “that guy” — the guy who has great ideas, shares cool stuff, and maintains a devoted social media following.

Shankman is an entrepreneur, author, speaker, and the founder of Help A Reporter Out (HARO), and came to Salt Lake City last week to speak about how to be “that guy” too, by reinventing the art of networking.

While it’s difficult to pick and choose from this power-hour of advice, I have distilled the night into three ways to build your business or personal brand.

Don’t Self-Promote

“A lot of the stuff that goes online is primarily really bad self promotion,” Shankman said. Why? It’s pointless. So much of what we do on social media is doing something just to do something. Do you really want people to associate your brand with every meal or one-off thought you’ve had? Probably not.

Be mindful of what you share. If there is any doubt, for a second, don’t share it. “That guy” doesn’t waste your time. His posts aren’t mundane, esoteric, offensive, or too frequent.

Shankman advises, “Unless the place you are checking into [on Foursquare] has celebrities, bacon, cupcakes, or is on fire, you do not need to check in there.” His point: Don’t be Roman who is having an okay day and bought a Coke Zero at the gas station and told 800 people who don’t care.

Be a “Finder”

You can avoid self-promotion by being what Shankman called a “Finder.” You become one by having, sharing, and knowing. People love finding things. They love discovering and sharing. Try to be the first. Finders share the next big meme. They share things that people like or need.

Shankman suggested subscribing to breaking news in your town–not national news–and tweeting it out. Share two things you’ve found a day, like this great commercial, and make them count.

read more: http://www.seo.com/blog/peter-shankman-utah-tips-business-social-brand/

5 Ways To Build Your Google Author Rank Right Now

Search engine optimization has always had an aire of mysticism around it, fueled by theories, tests and results.

As an SEO consultant, I read a lot of industry blogs like Search Engine Roundtable, Search Engine Watch and Raven Tools, among others. I also like to keep my ear to the street, so I subscribe to the official Google blog and Bing’s search blog, as well as monitor various industry forums to stay on top of possible changes coming down the pike.

If you’re particularly adept at digging for clues (and a bit of an SEO geek), you can search for patents filed by Google for their search algorithms to see what sort of things they might be taking into consideration in the future.

In fact, one particular patent that Google filed around 2005 called “Agent Rank” may have been confirmed by Google Chairman Eric Schmidt, in an interview with Gregory Ferenstein of Techcrunch:

“Within search results, information tied to verified online profiles will be ranked higher than content without such verification, which will result in most users naturally clicking on the top (verified) results. The true cost of remaining anonymous, then, might be irrelevance.”

Obviously Agent Rank was the precursor to what we now call Author Rank, which is how Google is likely ranking authors of content based on their authority, expertise and influence in their specific industry.

Think about your own knowledge on a particular subject. Would people call you an expert? Let’s say you call yourself a “social media guru”, but have your Twitter account set on auto pilot, and rarely read up on industry trends. If that’s the case, the term “guru” is laughable. The same goes for your content on the web.

read more: http://www.seo.com/blog/5-ways-to-build-your-google-author-rank-right-now/