Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Backlinks, Losing Rankings and Overoptimizing


SEO, Google's Penguin update, overoptimizing and losing rankings on Google.

The latest Google update to the search algorithm which took place at the end of April has to do with "overoptimizing." Web sites that Google considers "overoptimized" have lost their rankings in Google's search results. 

If the views to your Etsy shop, other online venue or your own stand alone web site have suddenly dropped in the past few weeks, here are the possible reasons:

Keyword Stuffing - this is the practice of overloading the web page with keywords, such as paragraphs of text that runs on and on, is filled with many keywords and do not make sense when read. I have never seen this in any Etsy shop that I have seen in the past 5 - 6 years but Etsy sellers might be Keyword Stuffng on their own web sites. 

No Content Above the Fold - If you have a web site that is all design or ads above the fold (the bottom of the screen before scrolling), your Web site could get "punished" for doing this. Google considers this low quality content.

Link Schemes - If you have been working on building backlinks for your Etsy shop or stand alone web site, you should be aware of the types of backlinks that Google does not like: Links intended to manipulate PageRank, Links to web spammers or bad neighborhoods on the web, Excessive reciprocal links or excessive link exchanging ("Link to me and I'll link to you."), Buying or selling links that pass PageRank.

Quality of Backlinks - For years, it did not matter which web sites linked to yours as long as your web site did not link to "bad" web sites (spammers, scammers, Link Farms, irrelevant web sites, etc). Now who links to your Web site or shop does matter a LOT. 
----If Google deems a web site to be irrelevant to yours (for example, a sports web site linking to a jewelry web site), Google will remove the link value passed by that link to your web page. If Google removes the link value from many web sites linking to your Etsy shop or stand alone web site, your rankings on Google will drop in the search results.
----If a known Spam web site links to your web site, your web site will lose rank value, even if you had nothing to do with getting the backlink from the known spam Web site.



Etsy sellers who hire link builders to build backlnks for their shop or web site must make sure that the link building person is aware of good links and worthless links or bad links that can harm your shop or web site. There are many low quality link builders who do not know the difference between good and bad lnks and will build backlinks anywhere and everywhere. Be sure to find out where your backlinks are coming from and remove those that are in "bad neighborhoods" (Google's words).

Anytime there is a Google update, there are always a lot of fears, rumors and misconceptions that follow. You can read more about this latest update on Google's own blog and know whether or not this applies to your shop or web site: http://insidesearch.blogspot.com/2012/04/another-step-to-reward-high-quality.html

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Monday, July 23, 2012

What is Link Building, Backlinks, Link Popularity

A link, also known as a hyperlink, is any clickable text or image in a web page, like our names and shop names and avatars on Etsy. Clicking on these links takes us to a profile page or shop page or other page within Etsy.

Backlink definition summarized from: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Backlink

Backlinks, also known as incoming links, inbound links, inlinks, and inward links, are incoming links to a website or web page. In basic link terminology, a backlink is any link received by a web node (web page, directory, website, or top level domain) from another web node.

Inbound links were originally important (prior to the emergence of search engines) as a primary means of web navigation; today, their significance lies in search engine optimization (SEO). The number of backlinks is one indication of the popularity or importance of that website or page (for example, this is used by Google to determine the PageRank of a webpage).

Search engines often use the number of backlinks that a website has as one of the most important factors for determining that website's search engine ranking, popularity and importance.

There are several factors that determine the value of a backlink. Backlinks from authoritative sites on a given topic are highly valuable. If both sites have content geared toward the keyword topic, the backlink is considered relevant and believed to have strong influence on the search engine rankings of the webpage granted the backlink.

The link I posted in the message above, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Backlink, when clicked, takes us to another Web site.

Links are used for navigation within web sites and from one web site to another.

Years ago, Google decided that links had a value beyond navigation, that any Web page that had many other Web pages linking to it, had to have some importance and significance. Any Web page that had very important other web pages (like government pages, educational pages, and trusted authority Web sites such as CNN.com) inking to it had to have even more importance and significance.

The quality and number of inbound links (or backlinks) that any web page or web site has now determines where that web page comes up in the search results.

When you go to www.google.com and enter a keyword phrase, such as, "handmade jewelry", you will see 10 web sites come up on the first page of search results. Etsy is at the very top, after the sponsored ads, followed by nine other web sites selling handmade jewelry including Artfire.

Where these web sites selling handmade jewelry come up in the search results depends on both the keywords that are used on these web pages as well as the number and quality of their backlinks. (The last time I checked, Etsy had over 1.5 million backlinks and seems to have that top spot secured).

Where a web page or web site comes up in the search results is very important for the number of web visitors that web site gets. Most people do not look past the first page of search results. Most people will click on the first web site, then the next, etc. Getting to page one of the search results and especially to the top spot FOR THEIR KEYWORD PHRASES is the goal of many web sites.

There are over 15,000 searches each month on Google for "handmade jewelry" alone. Etsy also comes up for every other "handmade" keyword phrase I have tested. This top spot insures a lot of Internet visitors to etsy.com

Where to build backlinks

Before building backlinks, download the Firefox browser and then install the developer toolbar. The developer toolbar will let you know which web sites and blogs and forums block link value from being passed along to your web page. These blocked links are highlighted in bright pink when you use the developer tool bar.

Here is a screen shot of my Facebook page with links highlighted in pink by the developer tool bar: www.wingsdove.com/screens/FirefoxBlockedLinksFacebook.jpg  

(NOTE: there is now a newer developer tool bar for use with the newest Firefox browser and the blocked backlinks might not appear the same way as on the older Firefox browsers.  I will be posting an update when I learn more.)

You might not want to waste your time leaving blog and forum comments as those links in your signature have no value to your web page. Find web pages that do not block link value when you leave a link to your Etsy shop web site.

Firefox browser download: www.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/new/

Developer Toolbar download: addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/web-developer/

One of the easiest and best ways to start with link building for a web site is by exchanging links with other trusted web sites owned by people that you know. Since you cannot add link pages to your Etsy shop like you can to your own web site, you can work around this by using your blog.

Your own blog is a very good place to start building backlinks to your shop. You can add at least one link to your shop with each blog post. 

You can also exchange links with other Etsy bloggers by writing about their Etsy shop and linking to their shop from your blog post. The link exchange would involve the other blogger writing about and linking to your Etsy shop in exchange.

Another way to exchange links with other blogs is by using the "grab my button badges" that sometimes can be found on blogs. You can see what this badge looks like on the left side of my blog, www.seo-web-pro.blogspot.com/ . When someone copies the code that is in the white text area and adds it to their blog, a link is created that links from their blog to your blog.

These link building ideas are a good place for a beginner to start. 

SEO and Relevancy Guide Books


Google's Duplicate Content Issue and Etsy Shops

Originally published in Etsy forums in June, 2011 http://www.etsy.com/teams/7722/business-topics/discuss/8523243

There have been a number of Etsy forum threads and I have also been personally contacted by Etsy sellers asking about a big drop in views and sales since 2/2011, placing blame on Etsy. This is understandable since Etsy added a new search around this time. 

But this is not all about Etsy . . . .

The shops which have been affected have something in common: duplicate content from one listing to another on Etsy and as well as the same items with the same titles and descriptions listed on other Web sites.

In February, duplicate content became a bigger issue with Google than ever before - Google stopped index Web pages that it considered duplications of other Web pages. Ecommerce Web sites were affected simply because so much information in each product listing is the same from one listing to another. This recent algorithm change is called Panda or Farmer. 

There are many blog articles about the Panda/Farmer update. You can read how ecommerce sites have been affected in one article here:www.doubleplus.com/google-algorithm-ecommerce-sales.html 

You can also read a forewarning about this update on one of Google's own blogs:googleblog.blogspot.com/2011/01/google-search-and-search-engine-spa..., dated 1/21/2011. Included in this long blog post, is this one sentence: "And we’re evaluating multiple changes that should help drive spam levels even lower, including one change that primarily affects sites that copy others’ content and sites with low levels of original content."

The key words here are "sites that copy others' content." Duplicated ecommerce listings were caught in this big and very general Spam Net.

Duplicating information from one listing to another can be very efficient but, but now it can and does affect all of your listings on all of your online venues. One way to work around this is to place this duplicated information on the shop policy page and include a link from each listing to the shop policy page.

The only way that ecommerce web sites are recovering from this hit from Google is by using unique text content for every product listing. This recovery will work on Etsy as well as other similar online venues.

No one knows exactly how much of each product listing has to be unique. The best way to find out is to make some changes and test the results in Google searches to see if all of your listings are displayed.

Creating unique text for product listings is what is working to recover traffic. 

SEO and Relevancy Guide Books


How to use Google's Adwords Keyword Tool for SEO Research

As of September 1, 2013, Google's Keyword Planner replaced Google's Keyword Research Tool.  Go to adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal?forceLegacy=true to see Google's general guidelines for using the new Keyword Planner.  FYI: the Exact Search counts, which have always been so important to choosing good keywords for natural organic Google SEO, are no longer available.  

 If you find that the new Google Keyword Planner is too complex to figure out, try jaaxy at Jaaxy.com or Keyword Discovery at Keyworddiscovery.com. Both of these Keyword Research tools are much easier to use then Google's Keyword Planner, both come with either a free trial or a smaller free version of the tool and both tools give many excellent alternate keyword suggestions.

Why use an external Keyword Research tool when Etsy makes keyword suggestions for each Relevancy search on Etsy? The keyword suggestions on Etsy are limited to a very short list with no information provided that includes search volume or the number of searches per day, month or year. The external Keyword Research tools give several hundred alternate keyword suggestions along with search counts or search volumes within a specific time period. 



This post is a followup to my earlier post today about SEO Basics  http://e-seoteam.blogspot.com/2012/07/back-to-seo-basics-with-keyword-research.html

Before even trying to use Google's Keyword Tool, take the time to brainstorm for ideas with friends, family and even post a thread in this forum asking for ideas for different ways to describe your work. It's not always a good idea to only ask other Etsy sellers since most tend to think like the artist or craftsperson and not a like a shopper.

Once you have a good list to work from, Go to adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal?forceLegacy=true
(there is more than one Google Adwords Keyword Tool and this is the one I have found to be the most accurate in displaying the monthly counts)

Enter your list of keywords in the "Word or phrase" box, one keyword phrase per line, such as,
handmade jewelry
handmade gemstone jewelry
sterling silver jewelry

Do not enter anything in the Web site box (this creates a filter that keeps Google from displaying many potential keyword phrases)

Do not enter anything in the Category box.

On the left side, uncheck the Broad Match box, and check the Exact Match box (the Exact Match is the only one that gives counts for each keyword phrase exactly as shown).

Enter the encoded characters shown to verify that you are not a spammer or an automated tool.

Click the Search button.

For each Keyword or Keyword phrase you entered in the "Word or phrase box," Google will display:
- Competition - (this is only for Google Adwords and not important unless you are planning on using Google Adwords)
- Number of Global Monthly Searches (this is good to know for Etsy since Etsy sells globally)
- Number of Local Monthly Searches (this is the number in the country you are searching from)

Below the data on your keywords, Google will display a list of up to 100 Keyword Ideas. You should look through this list for other good keyword ideas that you can use in your shop, sections or listings.

Once you compile a second list of good keyword ideas, go back with each keyword phrase that you really like and enter that one alone in the Word or phrase box and check the box for "Only show ideas closely related to my search terms." Look through the new list of keyword ideas to find other potential keyword ideas.

The list of suggested keywords will display in Relevance sequence. Select other sequences, such as, Local Search, to see more potential keywords that might not show up on the Relevancy results.

Select the "Advanced Options and Filters" and make sure you are getting search counts for the United States, unless you really do want to see the search counts for whatever country you are in.

These steps will make more sense when you go through them with your keyword lists.

Plan on spending a few or more hours digging for the best keywords.

Plan on going through these Keyword research steps every now and then. Practice and experience are the best way to learn how to find great keywords.

Shoppers tend to become very specific in their use of keywords when they are ready to buy. Shoppers might browse for a while through all the necklaces looking for ideas but when ready to buy will use detailed keyword phrases such as,

blue beaded long necklace
peridot stud earrings
vintage 1950s prom dress
letterpress birthday card

Be specific when choosing at least some of your keywords. These more targeted keyword phrases work much better for sales.

I like to download the keyword lists from Google onto my computer and use Excel to work with the lists. Click the Download button to download to your own computer or open directly with Excel.

SEO and Relevancy Guide Books

Back to SEO Basics With Keyword Research

article source: www.highrankings.com/keyword-research-295

I was speaking with a client the other day who commented on my home page, which talks about my tried-and-true SEO process. "Has your process changed much over time?" the client asked.

I stopped to think for a moment, and realized that while there have been plenty of Photo Credit: Valerie Everettincremental changes to my SEO process at any given point in time, the fundamentals have mostly remained the same. While Google likes to keep throwing curve balls at SEOs, their algorithm changes and new products and services don't impact most well-developed websites.

It bothers me no end when I go to search marketing conferences to find perhaps 3 sessions that focus on SEO fundamentals, while 100 others focus on the superfluous SEO techniques du jour that may or may not bring more targeted visitors to your website. Don't get me wrong -- those more "advanced" sessions can provide awesome nuggets of information for those who already have their fundamentals in place. Yet sitting in on site clinic review sessions often reveals that most of the attendees' websites have a long way to go with even the most basic SEO strategies.

With this in mind, today's article focuses on your first line of SEO defense -- keyword research. Optimizing for the wrong keywords -- either those that are not truly relevant to what your business offers or those that aren't being used by searchers -- will have the dire consequence of making you think that SEO is mythical marketing magic that doesn't work.

To make it easier for you to follow, I've broken down my keyword research process into the following 7 steps:

1. Brainstorm
2. Categorize
3. Research
4. Compile
5. Winnow
6. Determine Competitiveness
7. Choose

Brainstorm Keyword Phrases
Think about the various ways in which someone seeking your website's product, service or information might type into Google. What phrases would they use if they were looking to buy what you offer? Jot down as many of these as you can think of. Ideally, you'll want to look at every page of your website, because they usually have different focuses.

While your own ideas are important regarding what phrases people might use, you should also ask others to do the same thing. Find colleagues, family, friends and anyone else who might help. If you can run a small focus group consisting of people in your target market – that's all the better!

Categorize Your Keywords
Using your brainstormed keywords, start to separate them into categories. I like to use an Excel spreadsheet with multiple worksheets for this. So, for instance, if you sell consumer electronics, you'd have multiple categories such as televisions, radios, computers, with specific keyword phrases listed under each category. For something as broad as this, you'd likely have multiple subcategories as well, such as plasma TVs, large-screen TVs, etc.

Research Your Phrases
Head to Google's keyword suggestion tool (adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal?forceLegacy=true ) and paste in your brainstormed keyword phrases, one category at a time. Using our consumer electronics example, you might plug in your brainstormed plasma TV keywords to start. Note: Be sure you're logged into your Google account when using the tool or it won't provide you with all the relevant keywords available. (MY SUGGESTION: Do not log into Google account if you are researching new keyword phrases. Google will limit suggestions based on the text that is found in your Etsy shop and that it not always good descriptive text)

After you submit your first set of brainstormed keywords through the tool, change the match preference from "broad match" to "exact match" or your data will essentially be useless. (You'll see the keywords in square brackets if you've set it up correctly for exact match.) Take a quick look at the phrases that the tool spits out to make sure they're fairly relevant, and if so, export them to a comma-separated values file (.csv). Repeat this process for each of your categories and subcategories.

Compile Your Keyword Lists
Open each of your saved .csv files full of researched keywords, and paste them into the appropriate Excel worksheet, according to the category or subcategory in which they belong. At this point, you shouldn't be too concerned with what the keyword phrases are or any of the numbers associated with them -- you just want to compile your lists for use later. Having them all in one Excel workbook will make things a lot easier as you continue with the keyword research process.

Winnow Out Irrelevant Phrases

While Google's keyword research tool gives you tons of relevant and related keywords to the brainstormed ones you originally entered, it also adds a lot of unrelated junk phrases. Now's the time to remove them. There's no easy way other than using your own brain to determine what's related and what's not. You can use Excel's sorting and filtering tools, however, to search for specific words that you see a lot which you know are unrelated, and then remove them in one fell swoop. In the end, you should be left with lots of relevant keyword phrases for every category and subcategory of your website.

Determine the Competitiveness

The idea here is to learn which keyword phrases are within your reach. This simply means that they are phrases people use at Google, but many of your competitors may not have thought to optimize for them yet. Unfortunately, determining keyword competitiveness has proven to be one of the trickiest aspects of the keyword research process. It's become even more difficult over the past year because Google doesn't seem to want us to be able to do this easily. While their keyword research tool has a column for "competition," it's based on paid search, not natural search, and therefore I find it to be not very helpful in deciding the true competitiveness of any keyword phrase.

Using my method, I try to figure out how many web pages are using the keyword phrases in their title tag. My reasoning is: Because title tags are given so much weight by Google, any page that is using the phrase in their title tag is at least rudimentarily optimized for the phrase, and is therefore one of those that you're competing against.

To do this, you can go to Google and type into the search box: Allintitle: "your keyword phrase here"

...and see how many pages used the phrase in their title tags. One problem: While this works if you use it sparingly, as soon as you start doing a few allintitle searches in a row, our lovely friend Google will block you from continuing. (Have I told you lately how much Google dislikes SEOs?)

The only workaround I've found so far is to use Google's Advanced Search page and search from there. It's time consuming, no doubt, but the information can be valuable. Due to the difficulties with this process, however, these days I save it for only those keyword phrases that I feel are highly relevant to the website I'm optimizing.

You may ask, "What number of pages using the phrase in their title tag is a good or bad amount?" All I can tell you is -- it depends. You'll have to use your own judgment here based on your skills as an SEO and the market that you're competing in, as well as your overall marketing budget.

Choose the Phrases for Which You Will Optimize

When trying to decide which keyword phrases to optimize your pages for, keep in mind that it's not an exact science. The main criterion should always be relevancy. There's no sense in optimizing for keyword phrases that are too general and untargeted that also have millions of other pages already targeting them. You'll simply be wasting precious time that you could spend optimizing for the keyword phrases that completely and accurately describe what your site has to offer.

If a phrase is highly relevant to what you offer on your site, you should choose it, regardless of how many other pages are also using it. Just remember that if millions of other sites are optimized for your exact keywords, you're going to have your work cut out for you. In which case, you will have to figure out why Google should show your page rather than your competitors' pages, and make it so. If you're going to be throwing lots of marketing dollars at your website, you can likely shoot for more competitive keywords than if you're not doing any other marketing besides SEO.

Once you've completed all the keyword research steps above, you should end up with categorized lists of keyword phrases that you can then use to optimize each page of your website. Your next step will be to make a map of your site and choose 3 to 5 phrases that relate to each page, then work them in accordingly, based on sound SEO principles.
I hope this information provides you with a good start for creating your own tried-and-true SEO process!


Jill Whalen, CEO of High Rankings a Boston SEO Consulting Agency, has been providing SEO services since 1995. Jill is also the host of the  High Rankings Advisor newsletter and the High Rankings SEO forum.

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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Finding Great Keywords

Finding one or more perfect keyword phrases for the shop title, section names and item listings is one of the most important steps in the SEO process. 

Most of us tend to think like the seller or the person who created the item instead of like a buyer. This perspective is very limiting and can keep us from finding better and better keywords. Using great keywords that shoppers would use does bring in more views.

One of the Arts and Crafts I discovered on Etsy is Felting. I would never have thought to look for a "felted scarf" or "felted gloves" if I was looking for a scarf or gloves. But I loved the look of felted scarves and gloves when I saw them. There are not many searches for "felted scarf" or "felted gloves." How does a seller of felted items bring in more views to be seen by more shoppers?

Here is one way:
One of the ways to expand views is to find related keywords that are more popular. Most felted scarves are made of either wood or silk. There are many searches for "wool scarves" and "silk scarves" and adding these keyword phrases to the listings and other places in the shop will bring in more views,.

Brainstorming for keywords is a great way to look at your work in new and fresh ways.  Ask family, friends and co-workers to help you find words that describe the items you are selling.  Ask for an Etsy SEO Review on the   Etsy SEO Review Team and you should receive many new ideas from the other team members  

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SEO Myths, Legends, Lies and Scams

There is a lot of misinformation about SEO on the Internet. Much of this bad information are downright scams. There is so much of this floating around that it is easy to get confused or to get taken in by paying for services that have little or no value for your Etsy shop or web site. 

How do you know if you are doing something that will hurt your web site or Etsy shop?

How do you know which SEO and Web design services to pay for that will work for you in the search engines and which are a waste of money?

MYTH: Search Engine Submissions. 

This almost useless service is still offered on the Internet. Most search engines, such as Google or Yahoo, only allow one submission per web site. It's not necessary to submit your Etsy shop or web site even once, though. Google, Yahoo and all major search engines will find your web site or shop on their own. If you would like to submit your web site to any large search engine, do it only once. Repeated submissions are not allowed.

Most search engine algorithms are based on Relevancy. Research and use appropriate keywords and build backlinks and your Etsy shop or web site will do well in the search engine rankings, including Google, Yahoo and Etsy.


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