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SEO Question and Answer Lightning Round

January 25, 2012

Image Credit: KiSS_Ze_CHeF What does a good online marketer do when stuck for topic ideas these days? Go to Twitter, what else! I asked my followers to hit me with their burning SEO questions and they didn't disappoint.

Set your stopwatches and I'll grab my buzzer and we'll get started with the SEO Q&A Lightning Round!

Google Search Plus Your World

Lots of people wanted to know my thoughts on Google's Search Plus Your World (SPYW), which is Google's new way of showing results to people who are logged into their Google accounts. So we'll start off with those.

@jillwhalen How about the effect on SEO professionals with the developing Google Search Plus innovation? — Zachary Starkey (@ZacharyStarkey) January 24, 2012

In all honesty, it's really too soon to tell how Search Plus Your World is going to turn out. Google promoting Google+ at the expense of providing relevant results is quite annoying to many. For instance, just now when trying to find the most appropriate past articles of mine to link to from this one, Google was first showing me content I've posted on Google+ that weren't necessarily related to the topics I was looking for. They did have the content I wanted a bit lower down, but isn't that backwards?

While I hate to say this (because it plays right into Google's greedy little hands), I would definitely recommend that anyone dishing out content on their website be sure they have a Google+ profile and encourage their target audience to circle them. And as I wrote last week, it's critical to try to get into the Google Authorship program. But beyond that, only time will tell. Don't forget that, as part of the tech industry, we are in our own little bubble when it comes to Google+. The rest of the world has barely heard of it and likely hasn't even seen their Google search results change very much because of it.

@jillwhalen Jill, how about an article on what % of search results are now compromised by Google's SPYW results?#SEO — Aloysius Carl (@aldigital) January 24, 2012

I don't think it's possible to say what percentage of the search results show SPYW. Everyone's results are different depending on whether they have a Google+ account, how many people they have circled, whether they're logged in, and so many other factors.

@jillwhalen The future of Google Search PYW with regard to local search (small biz in the "people and places" box eventually?) — Mickey Mellen (@mickmel) January 24, 2012

I'm not sure I even want to take a guess at this one, although I can see perhaps Google adding location data somehow to the search results. For instance, I just noticed I could enable location data on my Google phone (Nexus S). I imagine that in the future (if not already), if I do a mobile search when I'm out somewhere, Google might use my previous locations to guess what I might want to see now. Google also has check-in data that they will surely use in a similar way.

Local SEO

Beyond, Search Plus Your World, Google Places Pages and getting found locally was also a recurring theme in my questions:

@jillwhalen: One Google place listing per office location or multiple when it comes to a law firm? — UXBlunder (@UXblunder) January 24, 2012

Good question! It's my understanding that you're only supposed to have one Google Places page for any one company or location. Because a law firm is one company, I believe it would violate Google's terms of service to attempt to have more. I'm no Google Places expert, however, so I did a bit of research on this, and this post by local SEO expert Mike Blumenthal: Google Places Basics: Two Business Listings or One? seems to agree.

@jillwhalen How about SEO ideas for non-local businesses to compete? — weboptimist (@weboptimist) January 24, 2012

Because I don't do a lot of local SEO, most of my SEO articles focus on SEO on a national level. However, I think you may mean, "How would one compete for local (city/state) keyword phrases without necessarily having a physical bricks-and-mortar store in the specific locations?" See the next question and answer.

@jillwhalen If a small biz has customers in 5 counties, how do you best target counties & primary towns with SEO, i.e., "stove repair [town]"? — keethgee (@keethgee) January 24, 2012

Unfortunately, there aren't too many ways to do what you'd like in a non-spammy way. However, while I wouldn't personally do it for myself or a client, it does appear that the ole "location madlib spam" trick continues to work very well for many sites.

SEO Tactics

My favorite questions dealt with rolling up your SEO sleeves and getting your hands dirty with the nitty-gritty how-to stuff.

@jillwhalen Thanks! My SEO question would be: What's the most common tactic you use (or change you make) that your clients have overlooked? — Will Montanaro (@willmontanaro) January 24, 2012

One of the most common mistakes I see is when clients are concerned with keywords that are not always the ones on which they should be focusing. Making the most overlooked tactic keyword research to find the most appropriate ones. In addition, learning not to concern yourself with just 1 or 2 pet phrases at the expense of the hundreds or thousands of others that should bring targeted traffic.

@jillwhalen Is there a way to check if your SEO results are paying off in the short term, or do you have to wait for long-term results? — Marta (@MartasAdvice) January 24, 2012

It's a common misconception that SEO takes months or years to start working. For a website that has never done much SEO (or has done SEO poorly), professional SEO work should start showing results within a month or two and continue to get better over time. It's easy to measure success via Google Analytics or your web analytics software of choice. Look for more search engine visitors coming in from a wide variety of the keyword phrases you've optimized for, as well as more of the "small conversions" that can eventually lead to large ones.

@jillwhalen How about a start-to-finish game plan for out-trafficking Wikipedia? ;)#SEO — Thomas M. Schmitz (@TomSchmitz) January 24, 2012

First of all, you're never going to out-traffic Wikipedia. It's huge, and a great resource for many things. Perhaps you meant outranking them for the phrases that are relevant to your website? If so, it's still going to be tough! For the most part, the content that I see that outranks Wikipedia is generally content from well-established, authoritative websites. I've found that if you have some great older content that is right under Wikipedia, updating it to ensure it's still accurate and then re-promoting it via social media and other forms of online marketing can give it just the boost it needs to rise above Wikipedia. But you've got to have that content in the first place, so this is a super-long-term strategy for anyone just starting out!

@jillwhalen Is there any place for a 3-way link request in today's SEO world? I.e., u link to me and I link to u from a different site. — Marie Haynes (@Marie_Haynes) January 24, 2012

Absolutely, positively no. It was stupid when it was first dreamed up, and it's even more stupid now. :)

@jillwhalen Ruler of the Google Kingdom for a day, what would you change? — David Feller (@david_feller) January 24, 2012

Easier said than done, but I would figure out a way to ensure that multiple keyword-rich domain websites owned by the same company no longer show up in the search results. Especially those obvious ones that use the same phone number!

SEO Business Issues and Trends

Another category of questions pertained to SEO as it relates to businesses.

@jillwhalen Why don't more people "get it"? — John Tully (@dsm_llc) January 24, 2012

See: Who Keeps Spreading Silly SEO Stupidity, and Why?

@jillwhalen How would you suggest a web dev (with mainly on-site SEO exp) looking to enter the SEO field approach an SEO agency for a job? — Martin Hurford (@martinhurford) January 24, 2012

I think your best bet might be to look for an agency that may lack the technical expertise necessary to do great SEO work. Many companies have content creators, etc., but don't really understand the importance of the website architecture and overall crawlability of the website. If you have a good understanding of that, you'd be a great asset for many SEO agencies. You might also try connecting with a job placement company such as Onward Search that specializes in online marketing jobs.

@jillwhalen What#SEO trends do you see for small business in 2012? — Hiveling (@Motion_Comic) January 24, 2012

While it's been a long time coming, I think almost all small businesses these days have to start wrapping their head around how to market their websites via social media. As I stated in Why SEO in All the Right Places No Longer Works, participation (real participation, that is) in social media is being a very important signal to Google. The whole Search Plus Your World business shows this to be true in an exaggerated way. Just remember that it's not setting up your Facebook page that is going to make a difference, it's what you do with your social media accounts that is important.


Jill Whalen is the CEO of High Rankings Jill Whalenand an SEO Consultant in the Boston, MA area since 1995. Follow her on Twitter @JillWhalen

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Post Comment

 Lorelle Smith said:
When you said you would like to "ensure that multiple keyword-rich websites owned by the same company no longer show up in the search results," did you mean domain name instead of website?
 Jill Whalen said:
@Lorelle, I did indeed, thanks! (I'll edit it in the article.)
 SEO Bedford said:
I'm with you Jill 100% when you said that most "humans" will not be affected by GSPYW. So the impact of this brill idea from the big G on most website will be minimal with regards to traffic and rankings.