With all the Google manual web spam actions and algorithmic penalties that have been going on in the past year, some bloggers are starting to shy away from SEO. After all, it’s very difficult for the layman to know what they should and should not be doing. Bloggers who seemed to be playing by the rules were suddenly hit by algorithm changes or (worse yet) slapped with manual web spam actions and de-indexed by Google. Many of us, (especially those of us who have either allowed do-follow CommentLuv links on our blog or left URLs on CommentLuv enabled sites) have been scrutinizing our sites for links that Google could deem “unnatural”. This week, in #FridayFinds, let’s take a look at some of the signals that Google looks for, how SEO tactics are changing, the changes to how post titles display in the SERPs and a sneak peek at Chrome Canary.
How Much Does Google Know About the Sites You Control?
This week, in the Whiteboard Friday series on Moz.com, Cyrus Shepard asked the question “How much does Google know about the sites you own? Can that be used to your advantage? Can it be used to hurt you?”
If you’re curious about what Google does know about the sites that you control, you probably just watched this. If not, or you’d like to read my quick takeaway, here are a few of the highlights:
- Relationships between websites you own and control are known as administrative relationships.
- Over the past decade, Google has tried to figure out these relationships (to help and to discount links).
- Google perceives links that are editorial as being more natural than links that are under the control of the same person.
- Related websites (that pass authority) can be rewarded by Google. For example, when eBay launched a site in Ecuador or when a company launches a version of their site in another language .
- On the negative side, too much interlinking between sites can be interpreted as link scheming. (Note that Cyrus also mentions that in some cases, people appear to have been penalized by Google.)
What are the potential signals we send to Google that our sites are related? Well, rather than reading my synopsis, you really should hear this from Cyrus himself. (If you’re in a hurry, start the video at 4:18 but I think you’ll miss out on a lot.)
This video is 9:20 minutes long and the article includes the transcript. I found this topic interesting (but many of you may not). I will say that you will learn about the differences between traditional signals and content signals that Google uses. Should you learn more about this topic? That’s up to you. Before moving on to the next #FridayFinds, I’ll leave you with this quote of what Cyrus had to say just before signing off:
“So in general, it’s very hard to hide these relationships from Google, because they have so much data available, and it’s really not worth it. But oftentimes it is worth it in the cases of sub-domains, alternate languages, authorship, that you want to help boost these signals. Understanding how these all work can give you clues as to why you’re ranking, why you’re not, and sometimes what you can do to help.”
How Are SEO Tactics changing in 2014?
This week in #FridayFinds, I came across the article 20 Worthless SEO Tactics to Avoid, Plus 7 Ways to Dominate the SERPs by Travis Bliffen on WebsiteMagazine.com. I found this post to be particularly interesting because Travis uses bulleted points that make this a relatively quick read.
He starts off with ten on-page SEO strategies that are no longer working. For example:
- The length of your blog posts
- The focus on keywords
- Internal linking
- . . . and a few black-hat techniques that I thought had gone away (like cloaking and invisible text)
Travis then goes on to share ten on-page Link Building strategies that are no longer working. Including:
- Spam in blog comments, forum profiles, guest posts and other public link exchanges
- Low-quality directories (without editorial control)
- Keyword-rich anchor text (his recommendation is 1%)
- Inbound site-wide links
- . . . and a few other tips of where we should be focusing on now
Travis’s 10 future-proof SEO strategies cover:
- Tips for on-page SEO
- Marketing your content
- Social media that can improve rankings
- Quality links (from directories, comments, guest posts etc.)
Is the Title That You Wrote What Shows in Searches?
Have you ever noticed that the title that you wrote for your blog post is not what Google returns in the snippet of the SERP (search engine result page)? Why is that and what can you do to improve it?
To answer this one, lets watch a Google Webmaster video (by the head of the web spam team himself), Matt Cutts:
In his video, Matt was asked the question “What criteria does Google use to change the <title> it shows in the SERPs depending on the query?” Matt’s response is that when they choose the title, they’re looking for:
- A concise description of the page (and ideally the site)
- Relevancy to the query
- Something relatively short
Matt goes on to say that they look at your title first. Then, if your title doesn’t meet their criteria, Google will look at content on your page, possibly links that point to your page and possibly the open directory project. To quote Matt:
“. . . we’re looking for the best title that will help a user assess whether that’s what they’re looking for.”
Matt summarizes his points by suggesting that, if we want our titles to be shown in the search results, we need to anticipate what a user is going to type.
What Do Your Blog Post Titles Look Like in 2014?
Earlier this year, Google redesigned the format of their SERP (search engine result page) and AdWords blocks. For some great before and after examples of how basic searches, AdWords results, images and videos are now appearing in the search results, check out Google’s 2014 Redesign: Before and After by Dr. Peter J. Meyers on Moz.com.
While these format changes may have little impact on most people browsing the web, it could have an impact on SEO. Simple things that Google changed (like font size) can significantly affect what is actually displayed in the search results. For example, in another article by Dr. Peter J. Meyers (also on Moz.com), he shares how this simple change can result in characters of your post titles being dropped.
Check out Peter’s article, New Title Tag Guidelines & Preview Tool, for his insight into what’s happening. If you’re in the habit of using up to 70 characters in your title, you may need to rethink that. While Peter shares some interesting data with us, in conclusion he says there is no “magic number” for how many characters should be in a title. What he does say is:
“I feel comfortable saying that 55 characters is a reasonable title-length limit under the new design, but keep in mind that your title lengths may vary quite a bit. In addition, a cut-off title isn’t the kiss of death – Google still processes keywords beyond the cut-off (including for ranking purposes), and other formats, like vertical results and Google+, may display your full titles.”
Will the URL Be Buried in Google Chrome?
To be honest, I hadn’t even heard about Google’s Chrome Canary until this week. What I have learned is that, (at the time that I’m writing this), it’s experimental. On Google’s site, they say “Be forewarned: it’s designed for developers and early adopters, and can sometimes break down completely.”
So, if you’re not a developer or plan on being an early adopter, why would you care? Well, I was intrigued when I read Burying the URL by Allen Pike on AllenPike.com. Chrome Canary may be experimental now but at some point, will we not be able to see the URL of the site that we’re on? Possibly not. Allen recently added this to his article:
“Update: Chrome’s Paul Irish has come out against this change, which he says at this point is an experiment.”
I just thought you’d like to know.
Over To You:
What did you think about Cyrus Shepard’s whiteboard? Were you already familiar with SpyOnWeb.com? Did you know that the web is moving to a new Internet protocol version (IPv6) which will change how analysts will be able to scrape the web to analyze the info that Google uses as signals? (This gets a little technical with Cyrus talking about “C-blocks” but (for those of you whose eyes aren’t glazing over yet), he starts explaining this at 5:35 in the video.)
Are you changing your SEO tactics this year? Have you started writing shorter blog post titles? What are your thoughts about Chrome Canary? We’d love to know.