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Beyond Basic SEO – Practical Strategies – Question and Answer

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In the final part of this seminar we answer questions on duplicate content including the major areas needed for effective Search Engine Optimization and discuss the importance of product descriptions to help Google understand the content of the site.

Video Transcript

Rick: Okay so now I’m going to unmute everybody’s microphone here. So does anybody… any of our panelists have questions that they like to kind of follow up on after this conversation? And then we’re going to go to the audience.

John: Well, Rick just to… putting the text on because the Matt Cutts video that you said was a for sure watch, which one was that or where is the link?

Rick: Oh well, I didn’t actually find it specifically. You know, you can probably find it on… oh, it’s probably this one really, Webmaster Central. You know, I don’t actually know. You’re just going to… if you go to YouTube and search for Matt Cutts over optimization, I’m sure…

John: I just thought maybe it’s on that page or something…

Rick: Yeah, I don’t actually see it specifically on the page. I suppose we could just over to the videos. I don’t know if this is a Matt Cutts one or if this is a Matt Cutts one but you can see there’s a lot of this… this conversation’s happening all over the place you know, so it’s timely. Oh, here’s interview with Matt Cutts, online SEO tools. Yeah so that could be it. Anybody else?

Okay well then I’m going to open it up to questions from the audience here. People have given me questions but if you’ve got a question that you’d like to post, please use the question box to type it in or you can raise your hand and I can call on you either way.

So John asked me for the SEO checklist to make sure he’s covered all the major areas and I’m hoping that this blog post serves as that, the BYOB SEO example. And then Dave Jackson asks, “How worried do I need to be about duplicate content?” I think probably, you can see now that you need to be very concerned about duplicate content. Duplicate content is getting in the way of Anatomy Wear. And once that duplicate content goes away, it’s going to take you know, a big step forward.

Let’s see, Richard, are you here? Let’s see. No, Richard’s not here. Let’s see, Vanessa. Vanessa asks, “Have I heard Google+ Local and how can you increase your rankings locally?” Well, that is a whole other topic but Google+ Local, for a local business is absolutely essential. And I guess I would say that the best thing to do is to set up your own Google+ Local Place page and fully fill it out to make sure that it links back to your own website. And then solicit people to review you, solicit your customers to go to that site and to review you. And it doesn’t have to be just there. You know, Google actually will included Yelp reviews and Yellow Page reviews and other kinds of reviews. So it doesn’t actually matter where the review happens although it’s best if it shows up on Google Local. That’s really what pushed me forward when I was using Google Local as an architect. So I would say that that’s probably the most important thing for you to do and the most important thing for you to do in order to score there.

Let’s see, still looking for questions from the audience here so folks, go ahead and… I’ll address the Cart 66 question at the end of this because it’s not really related SEO.

Let’s see, Pete. Is Pete still here? Pete is still here. Pete, I’m going to unmute your microphone just in case you want to just chime in here. Pete Chay, I’ve just unmuted your microphone. Are you with me?

Pete: Yeah, I’m here.

Rick: Okay. So why don’t you just ask your question?

Pete: I don’t think I had one.

Rick: No, you asked, “What are the top 3 things you can do in Thesis to enhance your SEO?”

Pete: Oh yeah. Okay, that question. Yeah. You know, one of the things I see is… what I’ve noticed… by the way, I actually… I’m a coach. I work in a middle school. I get a lot of clients and they’re always focused on one thing like optimizing SEO to a fault almost.

Rick: Yeah.

Pete: I mean, (04.35) out on the fringes and (04.41), right?

Rick: Yeah.

Pete: (04.46). I really think that there is… if I’m only going to be able to do one thing, what would that one thing be?

Rick: Well, if you’re only going to be able to do one thing then the one thing is develop useful original content and post it on your site.

Pete: Okay.

Rick: Because if you screw up everything else but you do that one thing you know, you’re probably going to be okay. That’s the one thing. What’s that?

Pete: Good advice against article spinning all the other great things.

Rick: Yes, absolutely. Article spinning, article marketing is nearly dead. Google has figured out how to identify that stuff and article marketing was used by spammers. Essentially, you take your material and you break it up so that it doesn’t look like it’s the same and post it in different places. So you’ve got… you’ve essentially written one article but then you just spin it by splitting it up into different sections and moving them around. And you know, there still are article spinners out there that are getting more and more sophisticated, essentially trying to make it so that you can automate article rewriting and then you link that content back to your site and you’ve got these links to you. But Google’s working as hard as it can to kill that.

Pete: You have a large building for the smart people that are coming after you.

Rick: Yeah. They definitely are trying to kill spam content. So the one thing is that I think everybody should do, at least, 4 things. You should write good page titles and page meta titles. You should write good meta descriptions and you should organize your content so that any given post is about really, a single concept. And then you break that concept down hierarchically using headings to identify the main points. And then using subheadings to break those main points down so that if you scan just the headings and subheadings, you know what the page is about. If you do those 4 things, you are essentially at 90%. And maybe not quite 90% because you still should do some internal linking and that kind of stuff. But you’re essentially 90% there.

Pete: Okay. By the way, this is fabulous seminar here. Absolutely wonderful.

Rick: Well, great. I’m glad you got benefit of it. Anything else?

Pete: That’s it for me.

Rick: Okay. Well, thank you for joining.

Okay and so next we have… let’s see, Eric. Is Eric with us tonight? Yeah, Eric is there. Eric, I’m going to unmute your microphone. Good evening Eric. Are you with me? Okay, I’m going to leave your microphone unmuted just in case you come on. But you asked whether or not the Yost SEO plugin can be used along with Thesis/Genesis or will they clash?

Now Yost SEO plugin cannot be used with Thesis but it can be used with Genesis. It can’t be used with Thesis and in fact, it breaks both of them if you try to use them together. I tried to explain this to a member on the site here today and I’ll show you exactly what happens when you use Yost with Thesis.

Let’s see, this is the post and so here’s her page. Let’s see, what is it? Performance audio… so here’s the site that she asked me the question about and this site has both Yost and Thesis installed. And if you view the page source, you see it’s got a page title, Performance Audio and Video. I don’t actually know where that’s coming from but it has no meta description. It’s got the title and it’s got a meta robots tag here but it has no meta description anywhere in the pad. And Thesis will automatically generate a meta description from the first 170 characters of your content and so will Yost. So if you don’t fill out a custom title tag or a custom meta description, Thesis and Yost will both supplement what your custom would be with real content. But there’s no meta description tag here and the reason there is none is because they both prevent each other from working properly. So you cannot use Yost with Thesis and if you’re currently using Yost with Thesis and you think it’s working fine, view your source and try and find your meta description. You’re going to find that the meta description does not exist.

And if you want to look at a page, let’s see… here’s a page that doesn’t have a custom meta description. But if we view the page source, you can see that Thesis has nevertheless… well, this is the blog page so pardon me. We won’t look at the blog page. Let’s look at a blog post. If we look at the How to Develop a Mental Game blog post and view the page source, its meta description is “What percentage of your success is mental? I’ve asked this question countless champions in my career as both elite competitor and as a coach.” Okay, this is what Thesis automatically does if you don’t enter a custom one in. So Thesis works well without Yost but fails with Yost.

On the other hand, Genesis does not do that. Genesis can detect Yost and will not display its own content but will display the Yost content. And I don’t have an example of that here because I don’t use Yost. On any sites, Yost is a great plugin, don’t get me wrong. Really, almost all of my sites are Thesis-based and so because of that conflict, I don’t use them. If you’re using Genesis, Yost’s plugin’s probably a great choice. The good news is that if you’re using the Yost plugin, it creates a post meta for your meta title and meta description. If you deactivate Yost, Thesis can read it and so can Genesis. So you don’t lose the work you’ve done. If you did work in Genesis and then install the Yost plugin, the Yost will borrow those settings and implement them. So that’s the good thing about using those 2 plugins together.

Let’s see, Dennis is here. Dennis has a question. Good evening, Dennis. I just unmuted your microphone.

Dennis: Can you hear me?

Rick: I can. How are you doing?

Dennis: Good. Thank you. I wasn’t sure whether I was… you answered my question but I did have another one.

Rick: Okay.

Dennis: With a blog network, as you call it, and if you’ve got backlinks out there that are coming to one blog which has links that go out to other backlinks, out into forums and social networks, then again have backlinks come in to another blog… is that sort of getting around it?

Rick: Well, if you have control of them, it might get around it for a while but it’s not going to get around it forever because they’re going to figure out how to do that.

Dennis: Maybe. Well yeah, they’re working on it but…

Rick: Yeah. Google, without penalty, will let you use and will count social networking links that you control back to your site and to the extent that it can index them. So your YouTube videos are legitimate links back to your site. Your Google+ account has legitimate links back to your site. There are probably other social networking stuff that are legitimate links back to your site.

Dennis: I think (13.23) just little (13.25)

Rick: It dpends on the forum. If the forum is a spam-based forum then no, it isn’t. But I know that my members get traffic from their links to my site and the forum has a page rank of 5 now. So I think it’s a reasonable linking strategy to use good keyword phrase in your signature and link to your site. And if you have a question that’s related specifically to your site, you could have your link to your site as a keyword phrase. This is my page about how to buy a home in the Arizona Biltmore neighborhood and you could use that as your anchor text. And that will actually probably benefit you. There are other kinds of forums that aren’t going to you know, that are known as spam sites that aren’t going to be a benefit to you.

Dennis: And that depends on the site, if you’ve got control? If you get someone out there that’s posting links out of you like I do then you got really no control over where they’re going.

Rick: Yeah. You know, the external link building strategies that have been very successful in the past that involves somebody else building links for you… you know, are in Google’s gun sites. So you know, I think your best bet is to build content that is link worthy where somebody says, “This is a great article.” And shares it and links it. And the links don’t… any longer have to be you know, in an expression. It doesn’t actually have to be keyword phrase that links in order for it to count because one of the things that Panda came up with is that normal people, when they link, will link saying, “This is a great blog post here about…” But they link to the word here. And that’s the way a non-SEO optimized site links. And actually, Google figured out, they really want to prefer non-optimized links that they call “natural links”. And so you know, a natural linking behavior, the way a normal person links to a page actually is being preferred by Google now.

Dennis: I choose to… you go ahead and you’d follow lots of advice on SEO and then after 4 months of building stuff, you turn around and find that the whole site’s useless because you went ahead and done the same… the optimization. And you’ve got to get back and do it all over again.

Rick: You know, the good news from that article is of course, that you can fix it. That’s what the article is showing is how he went from plenty of traffic to 0 traffic to going back to normal traffic again. And it wasn’t that difficult to change his linking stuff and…

Dennis: If you have 5 sites, it’s not.

Rick: Well, have you seen your search traffic drop off considerably?

Dennis: Well, considering I didn’t really have a lot to build up since I’ve been taking the strategies. It’s actually built up so I don’t know. I didn’t have a lot before that.

Rick: Okay well, so you know, it may be that you can go ahead and leave it alone and continue working in the you know, more normal strategy or the more preferred strategies now. And stuff that…

Dennis: It’s how you build… sorry..

Rick: Well, the stuff that you’ve done.

Dennis: It’s only built off since… yeah, it’s only built up since I’ve taken on the strategy.

Rick: Well, so… you know, one of the guys I read because he got me turned on to hiring people in the Philippines, John Jonas, you know, he just wrote a big article about how to beat Panda using network blogs and he thinks that the case that there’s a real opportunity for people who still want to try and do that to take advantage of a new strategy. I think as long as you’re willing to risk that then you know, it may be worth playing with. But as long as you understand it, Google’s trying to shoot that down.

Dennis: Well, I’ve got a couple of test sites that I’m doing. I’m not linking it back to my money site yet. So I’m only testing this out and so far, it’s working quite well. What’s this author you’re talking about?

Rick: If you look at jonasblog.com… the guy’s name is John Jonas and he’s got lots of great stuff about outsourcing. Yeah, it’s jonasblog.com. He’s got lot of great stuff about outsourcing and I subscribe to his stuff just because of that. But I mean, I think the stuff that he teaches, otherwise, he’s spam. But you know, that’s just my opinion. So I wouldn’t…

Dennis: You’re thinking that way and still doing it.

Rick: Yeah, we don’t do it on our site. We went from page rank 2 to page rank 5 in a year. And all we do is produce content, try to do a rational job of internal linking and you know, we don’t even do a very good job of that on at least half of our content because we just don’t have the time for it.

Dennis: And you’ve got a basic… you’re building on… I just want traffic.

Rick: Yeah, no, I understand. So anything else?

Dennis: No, no. That’s it. Thank you.

Rick: Okay, have a good day. It’s nice talking to you too.

Okay let’s see, Steve. Okay, Steve’s not here but Steve Lincoln asked, “With Thesis on the main blog page, all of the post titles are h2. Isn’t that overkill if you’re displaying 7 posts on the main page?”

You know, there are some people who say you shouldn’t index your main page or your blog page because you’re already creating duplicate content because you’re indexing it there and then you’re indexing it on the page itself. And so there’s one school of thought that says you shouldn’t index your main page anyway.

However… and by your main page, in that case, what you mean is your post page or your blog page. Having said that, you know actually, the h2 tag is the perfect thing to do for a blog page for those because the h2 tag breaks down the content into its individual parts. So you’ve got one main content which is your main title and then that main content is broken down into pieces with h2 titles. And you know, I think it’s a perfectly rational thing to do. Now if you’re really concerned about it, the thing to do is not index your main page.

And Google understands what a blog page does and why blog pages have you know, abbreviations of the content and Google isn’t going to nail you for having a blog page indexed. But I don’t think the h2 tags are over… are going to cause you a problem.

And then let’s see, Linda. Linda is here. Linda, I’m unmuting your microphone. Let’s see… am I? I’m trying to unmute your microphone. Oh, it’s not unmuting though. Crazy. Let’s try that again. Linda… okay, I can’t unmute your microphone. I don’t know why. It’s just not letting me unmute you.

So anyway, you asked, “How important are tags and keywords in SEO? Is there a secret formula for, say, naming your image files for a blog post?”

Okay, in the first place, there is no such thing as a secret formula. Secret formulas have to do with essentially trying to beat Google at its game. What you want to do is focus on the 90% and don’t worry about the 10%. And the 90% of the task is all the things that Google tells you they want to see. And if you look at the Google SEO Starter Guide, I think is what it is… let’s see, Google SEO Starter Guide. Yeah, Google SEO Starter Guide… yeah, Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide. If you look at that, you will see exactly what it is Google says you need to do in order to make your site rank well. And if you take care of those things, there’s no secret in these. If you take care of these things, your site’s going to do fine just like ours is. So I don’t believe in a secret formula.

However, in terms of naming our image files, it can be useful for you to name your image files with the content of those files so that the image file name relates to what the image is displaying. And it can be useful… well, it’s probably more important for you to use alt tags that way. And I do have some videos on the site for doing that. If you look at that SEO checklist, you’ll see where I talk about alt tags and the same thing is true with titles for links. Those things can be important. Alt tags are probably more important than the name of the file itself. But it doesn’t hurt you know, for our videos. We name our videos based on the main content of the video along that same principle. So it can be useful for you to name your image, not blog image 1 but you know, diagram of such and such, for example.

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