Category Archives: Panda

How Much Does Grammar Matter to Google and Bing?

Copyright 2014 My Web Writers

Copyright 2014 My Web Writers

We’re often ask us how much punctuation and grammar matter to search engine results. The short answer is, “Yes, grammar, spelling, and usage do matter.”  It’s like asking a business professional if he or she will be judged on his or her clothing at work.  While some offices are more casual than others, you’ll be judged. Google’s grammar dress code might be slightly less formal than Bing’s, but both search companies value articles that users can read without hindrances.

Google’s Content Quality Guidelines

We wrote a whole content quality series based on Google’s content guidelines after Panda came out in 2011.  Check out the four parts to learn more about Google’s quality content checklist. You’ll want to make sure that you double check spelling and grammar, as well as provide authoritative support and elaboration.

Bing’s Position on Common Errors

Duane Forrester of Bing, wrote a post February 20, 2014 that establishes Bing’s position on content quality.  If you haven’t read it, yet, take a moment to do so.  In a nutshell, Mr. Forrester suggests that if your content is littered with common errors, the reader will be frustrated and the poor quality will affect your search results.  Web pages with grammar or spelling mistakes won’t float to the top of Bing.

My Web Writers is available with several editors if you need help proofreading your copy.

Article Evaluation Template

If you’re just looking for a little guidance, download this article evaluation worksheet and ask someone else in your office to score your articles with it. Use the rubric to solicit general feedback from others or just use it as a general checklist to review before publishing. I used this template for student peer review when I was teaching English 101 years ago.  The template was originally published by D.C. Heath Grammar and Composition, which was sold to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Originally published by DC Heath and Company

Originally published by DC Heath and Company

Remember, even the best writers borrow a second set of eyes before publishing! Revising and proofreading are just standard actions steps.

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Filed under Grammar, Panda, Revising & Proofreading, SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

Radio’s One-to-One Marketing Secret Resurrected

radio-dialOne-to-one marketing is not new.  Successful radio broadcasters have leveraged this form of communication for almost one hundred years.  As the Radio Association of Broadcasters Users Guide notes, “Most people listen to radio on their own in their own personal space such as the car, the kitchen, the bedroom etc.  When they say it on TV, they’re saying it to everybody, whereas when I hear it on the radio they’re saying it more to me personally.”

Just like radio, this is how the Internet works today.  While surfing the web, a one-to-one message is targeting a specific audience group.  That message is further refined with each click to the individual level as specific content marketing strategies for top sites are being personalized for each user.

Four trends will continue to support this ongoing growth of one-to-one content marketing on the web for many years to come:

The one-size-fits-all marketing broadcast from the 20th century is not relevant in this era of social media.  Take note of how many Super Bowl and Olympics commercials on the broadcast networks encourage viewers to engage personally with the brand.  Customers are individuals and do not want to be treated like masses.  That was how TV broadcasts used to work.  Today, top brands treat individuals as they are and address their own unique sets of wants and needs.  Just follow the conversations brands are having with followers using hashtags seen on these television commercials.  By its personalized nature, one-to-one marketing via social media fulfills this desire to have each individual’s voice be heard.

Personalized direct marketing will only increase.  Despite all the time saving devices, shoppers are more pressed than ever for time.  Personal content marketing will continue to grow to meet the needs of customers who don’t want to wait in long lines or sit in traffic.  They seek to make quick purchase decisions.  Crowd sourcing product recommendations through “customers who bought this also bought this” algorithms cut to the chase and streamline the web shopping experience.

Consumers will freely share the brands they are loyal to with others.  Shoppers love the perks they receive from brands that reinforce a unique value proposition during every purchase occasion. One-to-one marketing techniques used by eCommerce marketers today focus on discovering a brand’s best customers and reward them frequently for their loyalty.  Who doesn’t share news of big discounts received or memorable experiences?

Mass-media approaches will decline.  With advances in business intelligence gathering, market research analysis, and database mining technology, marketers will be able to engage customers personally in ways never before imagined.  GPS tracking, geo fences, and instant messaging will provide potential customers with the right message, at the right moment, at the right location.  These technological advances will offer one-to-one marketers a more cost-effective way to reach customers as businesses continue to personalize their messages.

While most decision-makers realize that one-to-one communication opens the door to revenue, knowing which technologies and human resources are worth investing in to make your marketing plan successful takes wisdom. The number of companies in the content marketing space has more than doubled in the last couple years. This rapid growth was sparked by Google’s Panda update in 2011, which emphasized quality content and continues with the 2013 Hummingbird update. While there have been abuses to guest posting for SEO back-links, which Matt Cutt’s addressed in his January 2014 post, “The Decay and Fall of Guest Blogging for SEO,” marketing with a targeted message in mind will continue to thrive in blogs, social media, press releases, video and on your website. Investing in quality content creation continues to be an integral part of one-to-one marketing success.


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Filed under Business Strategy, Content Marketing, Hummingbird, Marketing, Panda

What should web writers know about content creation?

Strong content is a must-have to make your sites not only user-friendly but highly-ranked in search results. These tips will help you find a strong balance of readability and SEO.

Move Beyond Keywords

With each change to the Google algorithm, the role of keywords becomes more sophisticated. Keyword density higher than 2% can actually hurt your ranking. Just looking at keyword data will no longer work for generating high-ranking content. Additionally, the implementation of encrypted searching will make keyword data less reliable. Jayson DeMers at Search Engine Watch suggests continually building your content and refreshing pages to signal that your site is alive and growing, rather than focusing strictly on search terms.

Write Like People Think

When you do use keywords, the new secret is to instead use search terms in a way that more naturally reflects how the word is used conversationally or the way people think about the words. For example, instead of using shorthanded terms in your meta titles and keywords, use phrases or concepts. As search engines begin processing natural language more frequently, the change may become a hindrance to ecommerce and business sites that use keywords less conceptually. For example, rather than using a title like “Find the Best Writing Solutions,” which emphasizes keywords like writing and solutions but doesn’t sound much like an inquiry someone might ask a search engine, you might try “How to Write Better” or “Best Ways to Improve Your Writing.” Whereas older algorithms focused on keywords, the new algorithms are looking more for phrases and concepts that reflect real people’s language use.

Engage Your Audience

Since you’ll be writing more like people think, it’s important to think more about for whom you’re writing. As content becomes more prevalent in search algorithms, so do different ways of assessing the quality of the content, such as authority and audience engagement. Quality content is frequently updated, helpful, and targeted for your audience. Aim for content that will get the audience to comment, bookmark, or share. End your posts with questions or prompts to encourage audience participation and use reader feedback to help you assess who your audience really is. Not only does engagement with readers boost your SEO rank, it also helps you better address your readers in a way that makes them feel connected to your site or brand. Pay attention to signals that let you know what language, examples, and other trends are most engaging for your readers. Building a relationship with your audience is more complicated than analyzing keyword results, but it provides the biggest boost to your brand and content quality.

Use Social Media

While all social media is a huge means of generating traffic, you can’t underestimate the use of Google+ in developing your rank and content. Link your blog or website to Google+ and make sure that you generate content that crosses over well. Think eye-catching pictures, engaging questions, and sharp summaries that encourage users to click from your Google+ page to your blog or website. That linking builds your presence and authority in the Google algorithm.

Creating a broader social media strategy is an important part of getting your content seen and of generating more engagement and authority. When using social media consider your audience and which sites offer the best reach. A social media strategy must do more than simply sharing links and hoping they’ll get reposted. Introduce content with thought-provoking or click-worthy leads. Ask questions. Use visuals that grab attention. Many social media platforms use a lot of white space in their design, so visuals really pop. Meet your audience where they are and draw them into your content.

~Kasey

More Posts:

Content Improved Our Client’s Keyword Reach and Searchlight’s Data Proved It

Ten Tips for Starting a Social Media Conversation

A Writer’s Insight into Google’s Hummingbird

Seven Helpful Apps for Social Media Marketers

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Filed under Algorithms, Content, Hummingbird, Keywords, Panda, Penguin, SEO (Search Engine Optimization), Social Media

What is Google Authorship and What Do Writers Need to Know About It?

UPDATE: We are leaving this post up for history’s sake but Google’s Authorship is no more. Google scrapped the concept by the end of 2013.

By My Web Writers

What is Authorship?

Google Authorship can basically be thought of as your online, digital signature that directly corresponds with your Google+ profile, where Google would like you to store your manicured and verifiable online identity. Just a quick search on the internet for “Google Authorship” provides a flood of results explaining Google Authorship as well as how to and why you should use it.

Why is it so important, though?

The simple answer, as well as the most accurate, is that Authorship is important because Google really, really wants it to be. Google decided and decreed its importance and has helped proliferate the internet with what appear to be incredibly compelling reasons, particularly for writers, to use Google+ Authorship.

When you sign up, Google provides a “rel=author” mark up to include on your writing, which then ties back to your G+ profile. This, ostensibly, is to increase quality web content, increase authority and build trust for quality writers as well as protecting your original content and increasing ranking on SERPs and improving CTRs.

Authorship can be thought of us Google’s reward for writers who are willing to put their name and reputation at the forefront for content that they created. It is marketed as a natural continuation of the Panda update that swept through the search engine results and came down heavy on a lot of bad content companies that were heavy on links and light on unique, engaging content that web users were interested in. These articles were most often ghost written by anonymous content writers, so there was no accountability for terrible content and no reward for greatness.

So, as a writer, what do I need to know about Google Authorship?

Remember that web search for the phrase “Google Authorship”?  Ask yourself why the only results you’ll find are ones promoting and extolling Authorship. There are countless SERPs populated with digital-age John the Baptists crying out, “Prepare Ye the Way for Author Rank with your Diligent Use of Authorship!”

The benefits of Authorship are seemingly numerous for many fairly established writers and bloggers. Here is a visual representation of the glory of Google Authorship.

Authorship graphic

However, what if you are a writer who sells content to a publisher and ghost writes copy for clients?  Those industry-typical publishing companies own your writing and often play a part in editing and promoting your writing (Read My Conversation with Matt Cutts).  At this time, Google doesn’t acknowledge authorship for publisher or business G+ pages.

Reputable content publishers compensate writers for the content at fair wages that intrinsically reward quality insights and creative material (what Google claims you need Authorship for).  If you, oh Writer, happen to earn a living this way, Google Authorship would require you to sign up for a G+ account to use authorship.

Is this truly a “reward” for writers who produce professional and unique content, or a way to promote G+ accounts with the promise of increased SERPs ranking backed by the echo of Eric Schmidt’s ominous remarks at 2013 SMX West:

Eric Schmidt quote

“The truest cost of remaining anonymous… might be irrelevance.” While unnerving, writers need to be able to question not only the truth of that statement, but any other assertions encountered time and time again both in life on-line as well as off. Without questioning assertions and providing unique perspectives that often challenge the status quo, writers face the danger of falling in line with the current dotcom doctrine, when in reality, no matter how big Google is (and how awesome many of their products and features actually are), they aren’t the boss of the internet – but sometimes we let them think they are.

For more information on Google Authorship, check out a few of our posts (and others) to make up your own mind about how effective Google Authorship will be for your writing and work.

~Sara

What Would History Say About Google Authorship?

How Should My Business Use Google+?

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Filed under Business Strategy, Content Marketing, Marketing, Panda, SEO (Search Engine Optimization), Writing Careers

National Brands without Physical Stores Struggle to Rank for Local and other 2013 #SMX West Insights

My Web Writers Attended #SMX 2013

My Web Writers Attended #SMX 2013

By My Web Writers

How can You Rank for Local, if You’re a National Brand without Local Stores?

Good luck.  There are few alternatives to building physical stores.  When a user types in a qualifying term like “pants Toledo”, he or she is probably looking  for a Toledo clothing store that sells pants.  Often the user is located within 1.5 miles of the store at that time.  In many cases, it’s becoming the norm for national chains, that solely sell online, to fall below the local listings of brands with stores.

How do you get around the local problem if you’re a national chain without physical stores?  Some panelists suggested building local pages on your website, while others suggested empowering affiliates to drive traffic for local, long-tailed keywords. Local landing pages are required and must have phone tracking, pricing, transparency, an adoption plan, and ensured alignment with the national PPC campaign.

Balihoo.com, which offers a free download of going local ideas, suggested starting with 4 – 5 affiliates and empowering them with incentives in local markets.  My Web Writers also published a post on going local back in 2012.

For those businesses that do have physical stores, Scott Nickels of Home Depot shared a story of a map pin to a local store that ended up in the wrong place. Traffic kept flowing to a residential home before the resident finally called to complain about the headlights in her back yard. Store managers have to be aware of the postcard process required for validation of the physical addresses and Maps needs to better hone in on the locales.

Home Depot’s word for 2013 is “local.” Nickels suggests creating one page per store and localizing social, too. He somberly shook his head when an attendee asked, “Do you mean if I have 53 stores, I have to optimize 53 Facebook pages?”

“Yes, yes you do,” he replied.

2013 #SMX West Insights

There are already so many, insightful, #SMX West 2013 recaps floating around the web from various attendees, but here are a few more insights as well as a list of the recaps.

Random Notes from Watching Sites Get Critiqued:
  • Put Java Script and CSS in external script.
  • Don’t use disavow if possible. Don’t tell Google you have a problem unless you have a PhD in understanding linking. You don’t want to accidentally remove links that are actually working for you.
  • Submit articles to Reddit.
  • Canonicals- make sure all products are given credit.
  • PR can build legitimate page links.
  • Shopping cart pages should be optimized with what the latest coupon codes are. Remember to 301 redirect expired coupons.
  • Experiment with Google Plus to get juice for search-ability.
  • Don’t blog just to blog. Consider putting monies toward PR opportunities.
  • Schematag.org – a plugin for WordPress
  • Enrich your Google Places ranking.

Take-aways from other SMX West sessions are as follows:

  • Authorship and identity will matter more over time. False identities will be found.  Do authorities and brands have rank? Individuals have their own brands and should use authorship to maintain them.  Big brands are still struggling with this, which makes it a good time for small companies to utilize Authorship.
  • “Links still have many good years ahead of them.” ~Matt Cutts
  • Social interaction helps to determine SERP’s.
  • Mobile is going to surprise a lot of people. It’s a critical factor.  Isolate mobile in Analytics. There’s a web page test tool that @AnneCushing likes to use to watch a video of how long it takes to load a client’s page.  It helps clients to see the importance of improving site speed- http://www.webpagetest.org/.
  • “SEO is no longer about tactics, but more about strategy.”
  • “Keep the company focused on metrics that matter to the company and not ranking reports.”
  • Duane Forrester says the most important SEO factor for next year is “usability.  It’s more important than h-tags.”
  • Ann Cushing said to “focus less on keywords and more on landing pages.”
  • Matt Cutts reiterated that the “global view is the same as in other years. Give the user what they want.” Annotate your web pages with ‘about of’ markup for Chrome users. You can also disavow at a domain level.
  • Rae Hoffman encouraged SEO’s to “Let go of how easy it used to be.”
  • Greg Bowser said, “Embrace the big data.”

Looking for additional #SMX 2013 Recaps and Insights?  Read these excellent posts:

SEO Success in 2013 & beyond: Matt Cutts & others’ insights at #SMX

Matt Cutts, Duane Forrester talk ‘Adventures in SEO’ at SMX West

SMX West 2013: Top Tips, Tools & Takeaways

Insights from a Conversation with Matt Cutts about Google Authorship

Live Blog Recap: SMX West 2013 Day Three

Live Blog Recap: SMX West 2013 Day Two

Live Blog Recap: SMX West 2013 Day One

My SMX West 2013 Takeaways- Sugar Rae’s blog

What ideas do you have for national brands that want to rank for local search terms? Is there a #SMX 2013 blog post that I missed that you like?

~Jean

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Filed under Algorithms, Analytics, Business Strategy, Conferences, Content Marketing, Facebook, Google Plus, Keywords, Marketing, Panda, Penguin, Queries & Articles, SEO (Search Engine Optimization), Social Media, Twitter, Website Linking

Google’s Algorithm Changes – Today’s Best SEO Practices

By My Web Writers

In February 2011, Google released Panda, a search results ranking algorithm aimed at improving the quality of search results offered. While Panda can be helpful to searches, its introduction challenged web content providers to keep up with the many changes involved. Google continues to tweak its search results algorithms, and web writers respond by learning all they can to keep quality web pages at the top of search results. Here are some SEO tips for optimizing content for Google’s algorithm changes.

 Content is King in SEO

In the past, web page designers could gain more favorable search results by using alt tags, meta tags, and  header descriptions. But Google’s algorithm changes base search results on quality page content. This can be a good thing for the writer: instead of struggling to learn the latest keyword-stuffing trick, just write clearly and in a way that ensures customers coming to your site can easily find information that is beneficial to them.

Content Matters for Images, Too

In image searches, Google is now considering more than just whether an image is relevant – they’re determining whether the image’s source page has a high quality as well. Spam protection on image search results has been improved. See tip #1: web page content matters for all searches; those for images as well as for those for text.

 Backlinking is Important in SEO

Backlinks, or links to your website from other sites, have always been important in determining page rank. However, Google’s latest tweak states “boilerplate links with duplicated anchor text are not as relevant, so we are putting less emphasis on these. The result is more relevant titles that are specific to the page’s content.”

In simple terms, this means that links listed in blogrolls, headers, and footers will no longer fare as well in Google rankings. Paid links will also suffer. When you link to another site, be sure your anchor text is descriptive and relevant.

Google’s Algorithm says, “Fresher = Better”

We’ve all clicked on a search result, only to find information that is old and outdated. Google is attempting to remedy this by favoring newer content in search results, saying that 35% of searches will be affected by this update. You can help your site compete by commenting, blogging, or updating content frequently.

Google Likes Rich Snippets

Google likes informative rich snippets, the little blurbs that come up in search results after a result’s title. Rich snippets offer customers at-a-glance information about prices, ratings, and reviews of a product, and are particularly useful for pages promoting shopping, recipes, and reviews. Google offers a rich snippets tutorial to help you take advantage of this SEO tool for your web pages, since it ranks pages with rich snippets higher than those without.

Keeping up with Google’s frequent algorithm changes can seem like a full-time job. But with some research, you can keep your website near the top of the search results. Or, you can make it easy on yourself by hiring professional web writers like those at My Web Writers to produce top-notch content for your website.

~Susan

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Filed under Algorithms, Keywords, Panda, SEO (Search Engine Optimization), Website Linking

Fine Tune Your Content for Search Engine Optimization

by My Web Writers

A few important things need to be considered, which will enable any writer to fine tune their content for Search Engine Optimization, a process motivated by organic searches, performed by average people searching for different things on the Internet. While this explanation of SEO may seem simplistic, it goes a long way in helping webmasters and content providers increase page rankings in multiple search engines.

According to Google’s Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide,

“Creating compelling and useful content will likely influence your website more than any of the other factors discussed here.”

The reason is clear, based on the objective criteria requirements for search engine optimization. Real people are searching for specific topics (not computerized coded algorithms), to find desired information.

Keeping this in mind, fine tuning content for search engine optimization is more about relating to the people searching for content on the Internet, than it is about triggering computer spiders and bots with various tricks of the technology industry trade.

Tailor Content to the Intended Target Audience: Web content needs to be geared toward real people seeking information, not toward search engines delivering it. Webmasters should take the necessary steps to determine who their target audience is, and provide quality content directed toward it. Obviously, average senior citizens aren’t likely to respond well to articles plagued with cell phone text coding and accented by loud rap music. However, the high school and college crowd will probably appreciate and spend more time with this type of content. Content providers who know and respond appropriately to their given target audience are likely to receive more page views, back links and recommendations by tailoring their content to a pre-determined target audience. In doing so, they will automatically improve their search engine optimization, because the people seeking their specific content will respond favorably to the content they provide.

Organize Content Clearly and Concisely: Organization helps with almost any task people attempt to achieve with success; directing traffic to web content through proven techniques. Making it easy to find and sort through content is vital for search engine optimization success. Considering what search engines are expected to do, deliver acceptable content based on simple word searches inserted by average people, adequate content organization will provide increased results based on common sense practices. Creating flowcharts, categories and channels supporting natural hierarchies are essential elements of fine tuning content for search engine optimization.

Be Diligent about Content Accuracy: Creating reputable content helps readers develop a relationship of trust with websites and authors. While it is important to be accurate, it is also necessary to use valid references and resources that can be verified for having accurate information as well. Any links within and directed to outside sources should always have a reputation, for providing quality information that helps visitors discover what they are looking for, with minimal effort. Search engines track how long visitors stay on sites, and analytic tools have been developed to discern quality content from fluff. Search engine spiders and bots respond to reputable links, quantity spent on sites and user-friendly content that is found easily by its intended user.

Keep Content Unique, Varying It for Individual Web Pages: Search engine algorithms favor unique and original content, particularly if it is being referenced and linked to by other well-established and reputable sites related to it. Using keywords throughout content is necessary to create accurate searches based on those keywords. However, using keywords without considering the target audience, and tailoring content to those intended visitors, could limit search engine findings, as opposed to increasing them. Keywords must be used in conjunction with the development of unique and varied content, to reap the maximum benefit of their usage, thereby fine tuning search engine optimization to a greater capacity.

Use Simple User-friendly URL’s: People search for topics on the Internet with words. Simple URL’s are organized, accurate, unique and telling. URL’s are displayed in search engine results; people clicking on these results are more likely to click based on words they recognize, than on complicated codes that may or may not mean anything to them. Since search engines are responsible for bringing up results based on random searches, and because they are triggered by a variety of factors including time spent on sites brought up in results, content providers will achieve better results by creating simple, user-friendly URL’s that can be easily tracked for search engine optimization.

Establish High Quality, Useful Content Guidelines: Excellent content rules. Set the bar high, and don’t scrimp when it comes to content. Numerous content mill sites have taken a big hit and some have even been forced out of business by search engines in recent months, because in the process of producing mass amounts of content, many of these large sites sacrificed and minimized the importance of content quality. Consequently, their reputations suffered; search engines reconfigured their algorithms to enable people to safeguard against bringing up less than stellar results, thereby ensuring a more user-friendly experience for target audiences, to provide quality content results for Search Engine Optimization.

Numerous tools and applications are available today, to help webmasters and authors fine tune content for search engine optimization. However, many of the most telling indicators of general search engine optimization skills and techniques are readily available in a compilation of 2011 Search Engine Ranking factors. Social signals, usage data, and quality SEO content rank very high, while anchored text, paid links, and exact keyword match domains don’t fare as well.

~MJ

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Filed under Algorithms, Blog Writing Tips, Content, Content Marketing, Facebook, Google Plus, Keywords, LinkedIn, Panda, SEO (Search Engine Optimization), Social Media, Social Media contests, Twitter, Website Linking