Anchor Text on Your Site

Anchor text links have been known to have a lot of ‘search engine ranking’ juice.  It is one of the search engine optimization tools that has been around for the past ten years or so and continues to have ranking leverage.

An anchor can be spotted easily in content because it is usually underlined in blue (like in the image below) although some sites and blogs have custom colored links but it will still be underlined and still will be distinct.  When looking at the source code of an anchor text link you will notice an ‘a’ in the code which represents ‘anchor’, for example, ‘Search Engine Optimization’ link on our homepage is the anchor text and the code is <a href=”search-engine-marketing/search-engine-optimization.htm”>SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION</a.

Something to keep in mind about  anchor texts is that Google will only index one of the same anchor texts if there are multiple occurrences. A great example of this is shown in the image below from Moz.

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It is always a best practice to have the link open a new window or a new tab, especially for social media platform links. We want to keep users on the site and not distract them by directing them to another platform. Recently, Bing changed their algorithm to include crawling external links on sites for added credibility. For example, if you own an auto shop and carry various brands of oil, it may be helpful to include links to the types of oil carried to add as useful information for the user. After all, it’s always about the user!

Google Looks at Mobile User Experience

mobile_searchAt the risk of sounding like my grandparents, I can remember the days when I would lug out a huge yellow directory whenever I needed to find a dry cleaner, mechanic, or florist, and flip through page after page of businesses. When I compare that to turning on my laptop, typing in a two or three word search, and getting instant results, it is truly amazing.  I mean, how easy is that? Well, as it turns out, ever since I got my new Samsung Galaxy S5 smart phone, hauling out that big ol’ laptop seems like such a hassle.

Whether you are reading about trends and statistics, or discovering it for yourself, mobile search is clearly where the buyers are when it comes to online marketing. For some time now, industry experts have been talking about how it is absolutely essential to have a website that works on mobile platforms. Not only do you want prospective customers to be able to use your website on a mobile device, you first want them to be able to find you, and Google may not even include your site in mobile search results if it is not mobile-friendly.

According to a recent Search Engine Land article, Google could soon be raising the stakes in mobile search by evaluating mobile user experience as part of its ranking algorithm. This means that having a mobile site that is functional will not be enough – it will need to also be user-friendly. Googlebot, Google’s crawling bot or spider, is capable of looking at your site the way an actual user would see it on their mobile device. When the bot renders the page, Google can see how the fonts look, what size the buttons are, as well as how the page scrolls. Based on what it sees, Google can evaluate how user-friendly the site is for mobile users compared with other mobile sites. Whether or not Google does decide to add this evaluation to their ranking algorithm in the future, remember that making sure your site’s mobile user experience is the best it can be will increase the chances of prospects using your website, and ultimately giving you the sale.

Back in the days of the aforementioned yellow directory, a common marketing strategy seemed to be naming your business to begin with the letter “A” so it would appear at the top of the list. Now, of course, things are a little more complicated.  At Upright, we are helping clients meet mobile marketing challenges with strategies like responsive website design. We work hard to stay out front as online marketing evolves, and we are here to help you get where you need to be. Give us a call to discuss your online marketing goals.

 

Is Case Sensitivity Causing your Duplicate Content?

Written by Jenn Johnson & Keely Ledebur

Would you believe just tapping that shift key to create a capital letter in your URL could be the culprit to your duplicate content issues?

If Google can find your web page using multiple versions of your URL, then you risk Google indexing all the variations (such as www.yourdomain.com/This-Page/ and www.yourdomain.com/this-page/).

Why is that an issue?  Foremost, if both URLs actually display the same page you could be in jeopardy of a duplicate content penalty.  In addition, think of the 2 pages competing against each other.   They will share all incoming links and authority while also skewing your analytics data.  You’ll save a lot of headaches by following a consistent naming convention in the development of all new pages on your site.

Some developers will never sway from the lowercase only rule while others say it’s just important to stay consistent.  Google doesn’t have a preference of case for URLs mentioning that it is not a ranking factor.  So what advice can we give you to reduce the likelihood of your URLs ending up indexed with case sensitive variations?

  1. Test your server.  Windows servers are not typically case sensitive and will display the page however a visitor types in the URL.  Linux servers will display a 404 not found page for the incorrect version of the URL.
  2. Determine a URL naming convention that you’ll use throughout the site.  Remember to be consistent with all your internal links.
  3. If you’re concerned about external links to alternate case versions of your URLs, consider creating 301 redirects to the correct version or using a URL rewrite program.
  4. Use canonicals.  Adding the tag (<link rel=”canonical” href=”http://www.yourdomain.com/test-page/” />) to the header of the page tells Google your preferred URL should multiple variations be found .
  5. Have a conversation with your webmaster and web development team to make certain everyone is on the same page. Communication is important in the S.E.O industry and may eliminate potential problems down the road.

If your rankings are struggling, start with the basics.  Check your URLs to see if case sensitivity may be causing the issue and devise a plan to fix the problem.

What Google Actions Could Affect You

As the biggest name in online search, Google answers more than one billion queries every day. In order to maintain their powerhouse reputation, Google is continuously tweaking their methodology, which allows them to offer the best possible search results for users while presumably keeping webmasters from “gaming the system” to gain better rankings. Website owners and SEO experts are constantly kept on their collective toes, trying to keep up with the on-going developments in order to achieve the highly coveted first page Google ranking. There are two primary ways through which Google impacts the ranking of a website – manual actions and algorithmic updates.

Not another Panda update!

Manual actions include instances in which a website is reviewed by a person on the Google Team and assessed a ranking penalty for using practices that are not in keeping with Google guidelines for SEO. Manual actions may or may not be the result of a specific complaint against the site. According to Matt Cutts, head of Google’s spam team, Google now provides notification for all nearly all manual actions.  If a manual action is taken against a website, the webmaster can request Google reconsideration. With manual actions, the Google team can typically respond a little faster, since they can see what problem led to the action. The impact of algorithmic updates may be harder to pinpoint.

Algorithmic updates occur as the result of changes automatically made to Google’s search algorithms. Google describes their algorithms as relying on more than 200 unique signals. Some of the signals you might anticipate include how frequently the search terms occur on the web page, if the terms are used in the title, and whether synonyms of the search terms are used on the page. Others are not as easy to predict.

The recent series of algorithmic actions known as Panda is getting a lot of attention these days. These updates are aimed at helping users find higher quality websites, while giving webmasters who have worked hard to create a quality site the opportunity to rank better.  Unfortunately sometimes sites are unjustly penalized, either by mistake or through an unintended misstep, causing webmasters a multitude of headaches. With over 30 Google algorithmic changes this year alone, if a webmaster does notice substantially lower rankings, it may be difficult to discern which, if any, update might have caused the drop.

Engaging in ethical SEO strategies such as building quality links and good original content should keep your website from being suspect and vulnerable to scrutiny. If you are concerned about Google actions that may affect your website, there are a few places you can go to for guidance.

  • Looking for information on the best way to keep your site in good standing? Google provides extensive webmaster guidelines to assist developers in creating websites and content that should fare well under scrutiny – whether by person or Panda.
  • Would you like to check your site’s health for potential issues with Google?  Visit Google’s Webmaster Tools page to register your website and get helpful guidance.
  • Wondering just how many Panda slaps there have been? SEO MOZ has a good comprehensive timeline review of Google algorithm change history, including all of the Panda updates.

Keeping up with the constant changes in the world of SEO is complicated and time consuming. Like many other website owners, you may have another full time job, with a host of its own complications that command your attention. Contact the knowledgeable and experienced Upright Team – we are ready to assist you with your SEO program and give you one less thing to worry about.

Upright Attends Cut & Paste Design Competition

The first Cut&Paste digital design competitionwas held in New York City in 2005. It has grown massively since. Today, preliminary rounds are held in each of 12 cities worldwide — with winners competing in the Global Championship in NYC each year.

This past Saturday, I was in attendance for the Los Angeles qualifying round of this now-famous design competition. Held in a small warehouse downtown, graphic designers and 3D animators hunched over their computers as we watched 3 speedy rounds of live graphic designing.

There were 3 teams of designers competing for just 1 spot in the championships. All 3 teams were well-spoken about their visions and calm under pressure.

Friends of Upright, Claudia and Danny joined me for the DJ set, great drinks and fun of watching graphic creations come together.

We were surprised by several twists and turns as the designs developed. With its combination of 3D animation and 2D drawings, the designers’ creative process reminded me (naively) of a special I saw on TV on the making of the Toy Story films.

Visit the winners’ circle page from the 2012 Los Angeles Cut&Paste design competition.

Is the winner’s design your favorite?

 

Shifting Trends: Mobile Apps vs. Mobile-Optimized Websites

Dr. Jakob Nielsen, often called the “father of Web usability,” remains a thought leader today as he continues to research emerging trends. Today we focus on Nielsen’s new findings on mobile usage — do people prefer using mobile apps, or visiting websites from their smartphones?

This report asserts that as of early 2012, the experience of receiving information from a mobile app is superior to visiting a website from a smartphone.

Why? Apps are flat-out easier for everybody now. Designers only need consider a few devices during app development, and all user experiences can be tested easily. The issue of hundreds of Internet browser versions and screen resolutions — making a website appear different on nearly every screen — is irrelevant. Apps are fully branded around your company, they load quickly on phones, are colorful and sound great, and require no scrolling or squinting to read.

For these reasons, today’s user prefers using mobile apps versus surfin’ from their smartphone. However, the trend is switching towards mobile websites as a preferred portal of on-the-go information. I’d recommend that you read Dr. Nielsen’s entire report for the reasons why.

Good News for You?
As mobile apps become more expensive to develop and mobile websites become faster and easier to use, the small business owner will win.

Currently, many popular apps are produced by large corporations with millions of American customers. For these app creators, the hefty pricetag of mobile app development sees an immediate return in downloads and new customers earned. But for the average business owner — with a smaller mobile market or a less consumer-focused product — an app is not beneficial, forcing the business owner to struggle to present website information for smartphone users in a universal, user-friendly format.

I look forward to the day when mobile website experiences can be simplified and sped up. Websites are accessed by all — anytime, and for free. Apps sometimes cost, require search and download time, and must release updated versions to remain useful over time. A company’s own website is still their richest, most dynamic marketing tool and the hope is that mobile technology will streamline so every user experiences a website on their smartphone in the way the web developer intended.

Tuesday Tip: Get A FASTER Website

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Do you dream of a faster website for your business? A fast-loading website:

– Earns better rankings in Google (Announcement from Google)
– Earns better ad placement when using Google Adwords paid advertising
– Improves satisfaction in site visitors (They get the info they need faster!)
– Increases the number of pages one visitor views by 25% (They’re happy, so they stay on your site longer!)
– Increases conversion rates (Happy people email you more often and make online purchases!)

To achieve these benefits, you don’t need the world’s fastest-loading website. You just need to be in the “safe zone”. These tools let you know if your website’s speed is holding you back:

  • Page Speed, an add-on for the Internet browser Firefox that evaluates webpage performance and offers improvement suggestions.
  • YSlow, a free tool from Yahoo! that suggests ways to improve website speed.
  • WebPagetest shows your website’s load performance page by page.
  • Pingbrigade tests your website’s speed as experienced by site users worldwide

If your website performs poorly in these tests, contact a friendly SEO pro at Upright Communications. We can help speed you up! Or, if you’re feeling really tech-savvy and want to improve your website’s speed yourself, read instructions here: Distilled’s Site Speed for Dummies Part 2 – How To Do It.

Multiple Domains? No Problem – We Can Help

One of our most popular blog entries ever discusses concerns while optimizing multiple domains.

Well the truth is, a lot of companies have multiple domains (URLs) to serve different portions of their business.  And this is great!

Upright has 15 years experience in helping clients with multiple business sites.  Yes there are concerns, such as with duplicate content and the handling of redirects.  Integration of multiple domains must be handled delicately.

If you’re looking for an online marketing team that knows how to technically support and creatively integrate multiple business websites…turn to Upright Communications.

We simplify the world wide web.

Online Marketers Say the Darndest Things

For this Friday Funk, the joke’s on us!  As online marketers we sometimes take ourselves too seriously– brand positioning, scalable solutions, social currency– it all loses meaning when the humor sets in.

This hilarious submit-your-own-caption website, “Things Real People Don’t Say About Advertising” is cracking us up today.  Check it out!

Some of Upright employees’ favorite lines from this site:

  • “That viral made me LOL so hard I think I’ll buy the car that was in it.”
  • “It looks like a link but it doesn’t say click here, what do I do?”
  • “I can only refer 5 friends? But the rest will be so upset…”
  • “This website’s music is great– turn it up!”

Bing & Yahoo Alliance: Key Facts

Starting this week, Yahoo search results have a new label: “Powered by Bing.”  What?!  Yahoo and Microsoft’s Bing once were two search engines vying for 2nd in market share, behind all-powerful Google.  Their limited alliance —  centered upon Yahoo’s adoption of Bing’s search technology and advertising display — is a major attempt to offset Google’s dominance in search.  Can you say “no more monopoly”?

Key Dates in Bing /Yahoo Search Merger
thanks to coverage by the New York Times

  • Spring 2008: Microsoft offers a whopping $47.5 billion to buy Yahoo after merger talks lead nowhere.
  • Summer 2008: Microsoft abandons the offer, frustrating Yahoo investors.
  • January 2009: Carol Bartz named CEO of Yahoo, as co-founder Jerry Yang is ousted.
  • July 2009: The two companies announce a partnership in Internet search and advertising intended to create a stronger market with Google. (<– the current deal)
  • August 2010: With few announcements from either party, Yahoo begins displaying Bing-powered search results in the US.
  • December 2010: Yahoo plans to display Bing paid advertising, beginning at this time.

Good Timing for Yahoo?
While the alliance is a big win for Microsoft’s Bing– growing since its June 2009 launch– Yahoo is feeling the current momentum:

  • In July 2010, Google remained the market leader by a wide margin, holding 65.8% of the U.S. search market compared with 66.2% in June.
  • Yahoo picked up those lost points, rising to 17.1% from 16.7% share.
  • Bing held its share at 11%.

Yahoo also stands to retain an incredible 88% of paid ad revenue for searches originating in Yahoo during the first 5 years of this merger.  In layman’s terms, Yahoo is “getting a better search engine” for next-to “free,” until it begins forking over a larger share of ad revenue in 2015.  Finally, Yahoo’s Dow Jones stock trading is down 1% for August 2010, vs. a nearly 8% dive in August for Microsoft. Time will tell!