Best Search Engine Optimization Resources for Beginners

A good comprehensive article on Search Engine Optimization for beginners is hard to find. This is a complaint I hear often. But there are a few good SEO Resources out there. Here are three.

One great Search Engine Optimization resource for beginners is the Google guide. I can’t find a link in the form of a URL, but you can get it here: [ read more ]

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Search Engine Optimization for WordPress Tutorial Presentation

WordPress SEO – WordCamp Portland 2010 – Full-Length Video [ read more ]

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How to Host Video with WordPress: Advantages of YouTube vs. Self-Hosted

McBuzz Video hosted on YouTubeGoogle Search Results

I was talking with a client about Social Media Marketing and ways to host video on a WordPress site. If your WordPress website is self-hosted, you have plenty of options. I won’t even begin to go into the many video plugins for WordPress. That is a different topic. But when it comes to video hosting, there a lot of reasons to use YouTube rather than anything else. Visit the McBuzz YouTube Channel here.

Because uploading and inserting images is so easy with WordPress, you might think that video should be simple in the same way. But because you need a video player – which is complicated – and video files are typically quite large (unless they are converted to Flash and compressed), there are lots of factors that make handling video different than handling images.

The screen shot at right shows Google search results for “introduction to wordpress dashboard”. Google Universal Search Results feature video, images and other kinds of content along with the standard text listings for web pages. Here video thumbnails appear near the top of the results. The McBuzz Business Blogging 101 tutorial featuring the same video is at the bottom of the results page. Two listings for the price of one! Click on the image below to see similar results for “wordpress static page”. This time, video thumbnails are at the bottom of the page, and Business Blogging 101 is at the top.

WordPress makes it super easy to embed a video when you use the URL from YouTube or a similar hosting service like Vimeo or VodPod. These other services are as easy to use as YouTube, but YouTube is the best easy solution for lots of other reasons. Unless, for some reason, you want complete control over your videos and you want to limit access to them or keep them out of the Google Index altogether, there are many good reasons to use YouTube or a similar service as a host for your video files. In terms of search engine visibility, these services – and especially YouTube – are far superior to hosting video on your own server.

WordPress Static Home Page - Google Search

Here Are 10 Reasons Why YouTube is the Best Choice for Video Hosting

Note that all these reasons really make YouTube the best choice for video hosting whether you use WordPress or some other web platform. If you’re doing online marketing, you should be using YouTube.

  1. YouTube is free.
  2. YouTube works with many file formats and converts those files into several different sizes of Flash movie, including HD. If someone has HD capability on their computer or other device, they can watch in HD, otherwise they can watch at a lower resolution. Creating these options on your own would be time-consuming and require special software and skills.
  3. You can add unique, keyword-rich titles and descriptions for every video you upload.
  4. Your YouTube account itself is great for your personal visibility and for your business.
  5. In many cases, YouTube searches exceed the number of Google searches as a source of viewer traffic for your videos. That traffic will, in turn, see your YouTube profile and you can do a lot on your profile and in the video descriptions to encourage visitors to go to your main website.
  6. Google owns YouTube; they pay very close attention to content on YouTube.
  7. As part of “Google Universal Search Results“, video thumbnails often appear on search results pages independent of other search results, this means you have a better chance of being found in Google results when you keep video on YouTube. It’s possible to get a standard search result listing along with a video thumbnail or image thumbnail listing, so you get multiple listings on the same search results page.
  8. People will pick up and embed your videos in their own website or blog. This is great for inbound links and for increasing traffic to your site because you can include a URL in the video description as well as a URL that displays at the beginning or end of your videos. (Branding your videos is very important for this reason. Sometimes I do a good job at this, sometimes not. Here’s one example I’m happy with: Installing WordPress on BlueHost)
  9. YouTube gives you fairly comprehensive stats (YouTube calls these viewer analytics “Insight”) over time regarding how many people watch your videos, how they found them (via YouTube search, a search engine, direct link, etc.), their demographics and so forth. You won’t get any of that if you host your own videos.
  10. Many web hosts will charge you an additional fee for the increased bandwidth and server space demands you put on their servers when you host your own video. Whether or not they have fees, they may limit the bandwidth and space you are allowed for large files like video.

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What is Universal Search? How Do I Optimize for Universal Search?

Several readers have asked, What is Universal Search and how do I optimize for it?


Click to enlarge

Universal Search, also called “Blended Search”, refers to the search results offered today by Google and others on their search engine results pages (SERPs) – pages like the one at right. Rather than simply listing links to web pages as they did four or five years ago, SERPs now display results for other media. These can include Image results, News results and Video results.

Optimizing for Universal Search means doing things (ethical things) to get your links to rank highly for a particular keyword.

Let Universal Search guide the way you do search engine optimization:

  • In order to be competitive in Universal Search, you need to have content on multiple web sites, not just your own website, but also YouTube (and other video sites), product sites like Google Base, News sites and others.
  • You need to better optimize the images on all your web properties if you want them to show up in Universal Search results.
  • If you optimize well, you can get more than one result – sometimes 3 or 4 – showing up on page one of Google SERPs.

Upload PDF WordPress - Google Serp
Click to enlarge

In the SERP at left, you can see mcbuzz.wordpress.com in positions 1 and 2 for a search on “upload pdf wordpress”, and you can also see an image from a McBuzz video tutorial (bottom right) on the same page. The listing in position 2 and the video image are the essentially the same content. One link is to a blog post with the video embedded in it. The other is to the video itself on YouTube. And, although the video is not at the top of the page, people are more likely to click on the graphical video image than they are on a plain text listing.

This is the beauty of Universal Search: the potential for more listings, and listings with images. Add to this the fact that your competitors are probably not optimizing very well for Universal Search – not yet, anyway – and you see why it’s important to know about it, and to turn that knowledge into action.

In the next post, I’ll talk about how to optimize for Universal Search.

Click here to learn about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Services offered by McBuzz.

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Google Does Not Use Keywords Meta Tag to Rank Web Pages

There has always been some discussion as to whether Google pays any attention to the “keywords” meta tag when ranking web pages. For now, that discussion can be put to rest. Today, Matt Cutts, Google’s page ranking czar (he refers to himself as the head of Google’s Webspam team) put out a video and several blog posts that state conclusively that Google disregards the keywords tag.

At least for Google’s web search results currently (September 2009), the answer is no. Google doesn’t use the “keywords” meta tag in our web search ranking.

He notes that the “description” meta tag is used to determine what a page is about, and it is also used as the short summary that is part of a web page listing when it appears in a Google search results page.

Matt Cutts: Google Does Not Use Keywords Meta Tag

The “description” and “keywords” meta tags usually appear at the top of the HTML for a web page. They are not visible in the web browser unless you select View > Page Source or View > Source.

Keywords Meta Tag vs Description Meta Tag - HTML Code

Google will display the contents of the “description” meta tag as part of the information in a search results page listing when it is useful information for human visitors. If there is no description meta tag or the information is not especially relevant, Google may use information from the visible web page instead.

For the McBuzz.com home page, Google uses the contents of the “description” meta tag in the search results listing. (This is an old search example, but you get the idea. :) )
Description Meta Tag and Search Results Summary

Click here » to learn about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Services offered by McBuzz.

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Search Engine Optimization for Your Blog

If you’re looking for search engine optimization tips for your blog, check out this interview by Shawn Hessinger at PostRanger.com: McBuzz talks Search Engine Optimization for your blog

PostRanger.com provides professional blogging services to market your business or organization on the World Wide Web.

Adding a blog to an existing website is one of the best and least expensive ways to improve the overall search ranking of your web pages! With help from companies like PostRanger.com and McBuzz Communications, you can’t go wrong!

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How to See If a Page or Document on Your Website Has Been Indexed by Google

If you would like to find out if a page or document on your website has been indexed by Google, use the query modifier “site:url” like you would to see how many pages on your site have been indexed (and which ones), but instead of using “site:mcbuzz.com”, for example, use “site:mcbuzz.com/wordpress/what-is-wordpress” or whatever the entire URL or file name is that you want to check.

Click here » to learn about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Services offered by McBuzz.

In other words, say I have a PDF on my site called “mcbuzz-wordpress-tutorials.pdf” (which I don’t – this is just an example). I can do a search using Google for “site:mcbuzz.com/pdf/mcbuzz-wordpress-tutorials.pdf” and Google will tell me whether is has this file in its index or not. Remember to use the entire path or URL for the page or document. If you keep your PDFs in a directory on your site called “pdf”, then you need to include that in the URL as shown in this example. (If you have quesitons about this, send me a comment.)

This post follows along the same lines as an earlier one called “Are PDF Files Indexed by Google?” But I also wanted to talk about this topic for a couple of reasons related to Search Engine Optimization and WordPress.

1. In WordPress, it is possible to specify the URL of a page or post — independent of the title you give the page or post — using the “Page Slug” / “Post Slug” feature. If you don’t specify a slug, WordPress will make one automatically using “Permalinks“. I told WordPress to give this post the URL “mcbuzz.com/2008/document-webpage-indexed-by-google”. If I hadn’t done so, WordPress would have called it “mcbuzz.com/2008/how-to-see-if-a-page-or-document-on-your-website-has-been-indexed-by-google”. Shorter is better as long as the relevant keywords are included in a URL, so I made it shorter by tweaking it a bit and removing words I don’t think are as relevant for SEO as the ones I kept.

2. Google is indexing pages and posts very quickly these days, sometimes in under an hour. The post you are reading right now was indexed in less than 7 minutes. If you have a URL indexed by Google, you may not want to change it because if you change it, the link to the page that’s in Google’s index will be broken. Someone might find your page or post by doing a Google search, but when they click on the listing, they will get a “Page not found” error from your site.

So, if you want to use the Page Slug / Post Slug feature in WordPress to customize your URLs, do so before or shortly after you publish a page or post. If you are thinking of changing a URL, you can check to see if your page has already been indexed before you change it.

If it has been indexed, you need to weigh the possible long-term SEO benefit of changing the URL so that it is more likely to show up on page 1 or 2 of Google for your target keywords — because Google will eventually re-index it. But if it has been indexed already and you want people to find it for some searches right away (in the next week or two, say) then you are probably better off leaving well enough alone.

Here’s an update to this post. News flash: That last paragraph applies only to WordPress.com-hosted websites and blogs. If your site is hosted by a third party rather than WordPress.com, and you are comfortable enough with WordPress to be able to download, install and activate a WordPress plugin (or you know someone who can help you do so), then you don’t need to worry about whether a post or page has already been indexed by Google or not. You can use a WordPress plugin called “Redirection” to redirect someone to the new URL when they request your page or post using the old URL.

In other words, say you create a post called My New Post with the URL http://www.example.com/my-new-post/. It gets indexed by Google in 30 minutes or whatever. Then you realize, Oops!, I should have named that post My New Post About WordPress, because it’s about WordPress! And you really should include “wordpress” in the URL to make the URL more search engine friendly, i.e., to let search engines know that the post really is about WordPress. One of the absolute best ways to do that is to put your keyword — in this case “wordpress” — in the URL. So go ahead, rename your post and either create a new post slug yourself or let WordPress do it for you.

Now your new URL can be http://www.example.com/my-new-post-about-wordpress/ (or whatever you want to make it using the Page Slug /Post Slug feature in the editing window). If someone finds your post using Google, and Google is still using the old URL, that person will click on the link and when their web browser asks your host’s server for the page at http://www.example.com/my-new-post/ , the server will know that they really want the page at the new URL http://www.example.com/my-new-post-about-wordpress/ and it will redirect them there. The fact that you changed the post title and the URL will not keep people from being able to find the page. Pretty cool.

Now for this to work, you have to know how to install the Redirection plugin, and how to set it so that it does what you want. And you also have to be using permalinks. (Read more about WordPress permalinks here.) I just installed the plugin on mcbuzz.com, at it’s one of the easier plugins to use. Just follow the directions in the readme.txt file that comes with the plugin. You can set it to create redirections automatically when a post slug changes, or you can do it yourself manually when a post or page slug changes.

Confused? Just send me a comment using the form below.

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Are PDF Files Indexed by Google?

Yes. PDF files are indexed by Google and other search engines.

Following up on a question from a reader (Optimize PDF Files For Websites and Search Engines), as I note there, one way to see if a PDF on your website has been indexed by Google is to copy a long line of text from the PDF, and then put it into the Google search box — with double quotes on either end. You can do this to find any particular document or page available on the Web — as long as it has been indexed (scanned or “spidered” and catalogued) by Google.

For example, if you Google “Enter an estimate of your 2008 nonwage income (such as dividends or interest)” with the double quotes on either end, Google offers you a link to a PDF of IRS Form W-4 for 2008. This shows that the 2008 W-4 PDF document has been indexed. (Incidentally, Google also offers you a link to the mcbuzz.com page you are reading right now since it contains the same string of text.)

Another way to see if a PDF has been indexed by Google is to use the “site:url” query modifier. This is a handy trick when you want to narrow your search to one domain. If I Google [site:mcbuzz.com] – without the brackets, Google lists every page in my site that has been indexed. If I Google [site:mcbuzz.com web] – without the brackets, Google lists every page in my site that contains the word “web”. And, as a helpful reader points out below, you can Google [site:mcbuzz.com filetype:pdf] – without the brackets, to see if there are any PDF files on the mcbuzz.com website that have been indexed by Google. (Be sure not to put a space between “filetype:” and “pdf”.)

I don’t have any PDFs on my site. Try it with another domain to see an actual positive result. To see if a particular PDF on my website has been indexed, I can Google [site:mcbuzz.com “some word or phrase in the PDF”] – without the brackets. Of course, you can also Google [site:mcbuzz.com myfilename.pdf] to do the same.

Returning to the Form W-4 example, Google [site:irs.gov “Enter an estimate of your 2008 nonwage income (such as dividends or interest)”] and Google lists one and only one result: the PDF on the IRS website.

Something fairly amazing: Google knows every phrase in that PDF and in any other document or web page it has indexed. That’s a lot of information.

The other question in the mcbuzz.com post mentioned above was whether a PDF would be indexed if it were encrypted or had other security settings applied to it. If you have Adobe Acrobat 8 Professional, you can answer this question yourself.

Open a PDF and then open the Document Properties dialog box (File > Properties…). Click on the Security tab, and you see the various security options. There are different security options depending on which version of Acrobat Reader you want your PDF to be compatible with. The dialog box tells you if search engines will be able to read all or only some parts of the PDF (e.g. metatags or attachments) when you select the various options. If the PDF can’t be read by search engines, it won’t be indexed.

For those interested, here is more information about Google query modifiers like “site:url”.

Click here » if you would like to find out about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Services offered by McBuzz.

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Natural Search Results vs. Paid Search Results – What's the Difference?

Here are examples of “natural” or “organic” search results vs. “paid” search results on Google:

Natural versus paid search results - McBuzz can help you do well in both

The orange boxes indicate paid search results. Google marks these as Sponsored Links. Sponsored Links always appear at the top or on the right side of search results pages. Businesses pay Google to be listed here. These are also called text advertisements, “paid placement” ads or “pay per click” ads.

The green box indicates a natural (also called “organic”) search results listing. Businesses do not pay Google to appear in this spot.

Search for  “adwords consultant seattle” and you’ll find McBuzz Communications at the top of the natural results. This is free advertising. Listings in the top position on the page get many more clicks than the majority of paid placement results, and they certainly get more clicks than the natural listings that are further down on the page.

Yahoo! and MSN.com search results pages have a similar format — with both paid and natural search listings.

Google Indexes Pages Much More Frequently Than Before
Here’s an interesting sidebar. I created the post you are reading right now at 10:16 AM today, October 23. Looking at the Google search results page just now (at 10:30 PM the same day), I see that this post has already been indexed by Google, meaning that it shows up on page one (in the number 10 spot at the bottom of the page) for the same keyword.

Why is this important? Because it shows just how quickly new content on your website can affect its performance in search results.

Natural vs Paid SERP Postion and Frequent Indexing by Google

The post you are reading right now was indexed by Google and listed on page one of serch results for “seattle marketing communications” the same day it was created! What does this tell us? When you apply basic search engine optimization techniques — including making frequent updates to your site with keyword-rich headlines, bullet points and text — you can see immediate results and bring in more customers.

You may recall the days when you had to wait three to four weeks, sometimes longer, for updates to your website to show up in search engine results pages. If you optimized your site, it might take at least that long to find out if what you did worked or not.

As this example shows, those days are long gone — provided you are doing the right things with your website. And that’s a significant qualification. What are the right things? Exactly what we talk about on mcbuzz.com, like following our Web Marketing Tips — and the fact that you should use content managment or “blogging” software like WordPress to build and maintain your site rather than old-fashioned, “static” format HTML. (The latter includes sites created with do-it-yourself, “site builder” tools you find on GoDaddy.com, Network Solutions and Yahoo! web hosting.)

Let me know what you think!

McBuzz Web Marketing Tips
#1: Use “site:url” to Find Out If Your Website Is Indexed by Google

#2: Use XML Sitemap Generator to Get All Your Website’s Pages Indexed by Google

#3: Submit an XML Sitemap to Google

#4: Use Keywords in Web Page Titles

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