Boosting Your SEO Rankings With HTTPS/SSL

Google recently announced that they’re adding another point into their ranking equations, – SSL/HTTPS.

Google Adds SSL Signal to their Search Engine Algorithm

Google Adds SSL Signal to their Search Engine Algorithm

The reasoning behind this is that sites secured with a 2048-bit SSL key will likely provide users with more relevant results. Websites the implement this oft-tedious yet important security measure also tend to be ones of trustworthy quality.

The important thing to understand about this new search signal is that it carries less weight than other signals that Google currently uses. While Google has announced that they may weight this factor heavier in the future, it will likely only affect about 1% of the total websites listed in Google.

Should you bother with implementing HTTPS/SSL? That’s what I want to explore with you today, especially if you want to implement it purely for SEO-related reasons.

 

The Problems with HTTPS/SSL

The first thing you should know about switching from HTTP to HTTPS is that there are a number of potential problems hiding in the woodwork. You may end up with numerous error pages, problems loading content from third-party sources, and you may ultimately face ranking drops if these aren’t addressed in a timely manner.

The bottom line is that you don’t want your website to suffer, nor do you want your visitors to encounter additional problems purely for the sake of SEO.

 

Three Persuasive Reasons to Switch to HTTPS/SSL

HTTPS/SSL implementation on your website offers a heightened level of security to your visitors while giving a few additional benefits that may help your website perform better overall.

Below are the 3 reasons you should switch:

  1. SSL implementation makes your website look more like an authority source. This provides an additional measure of trust for your visitors.
  2. SSL can stop man-in-the-middle attacks, which is especially important if your website deals with sensitive information like credit card details, society security numbers or anything that might make your users a juicy target for cybercriminals.
  3. SSL makes your website more attractive to link to. Not only is it more secure, but other webmasters will more readily recognize your website as an authority source. This makes obtaining even low-value links like social bookmarks and social network mentions far easier.

Benefits of SSL

Addressing Those Concerns

If you’re set on switching over to SSL, then there’s a few things you can do to prevent SSL from becoming a problem:

    Decide whether you want a single, multi-domain or wildcard SSL certificate. This will impact what measures you need to take.

  • Always use 2048-bit key certificates. These are the most secure SSL certificates available, and the only ones Google’s new search signal will register at this time.
  • Always use relative URLs when linking to secured same-domain resources.
  • Use protocol URLs when linking to other domains or resources that may be hosted outside your SSL certificate’s coverage.
  • Don’t block spiders from crawling your HTTPS site with your robots.txt, .htaccess or the “noindex robots” meta tag.

 

What do you think about Google adding HTTPS/SSL as a search signal? Do you think it’s a wise decision? Has it affected your rankings? Comment below!

Google Panda 4.0 – Everything You MUST Know

Everything-You-Need-to-Know-About-Panda-4.0

It’s official, – Panda 4.0 has finally been implemented, and sites are about to go through the most rank-changing ‘Google Dance’ we’ve seen since Penguin was originally implemented.

Let’s find out what this latest major change to the Google search algorithm means for search users and websites.

 

What’s So Important About Another Algorithm Update?

Search engine traffic is one of the best ways to create traffic to your website. When harnessed properly, you can see visitors that you could otherwise never afford to bring to your website with methods like pay-per-click advertising or even social media marketing.

The best part is that ranking in search engines is technically free. That’s what’s attractive about it, especially when you take topics like content marketing into consideration.

But what’s so important about algorithm changes?

Simply put, they represent alterations in the way Google categorizes websites and how Google calculates a website’s relevance to any given search term using some 200 points of data.

 

What is Panda 4.0?

Google Panda Updates in a NutshellThe primary focus of Panda 4.0 will be to root out low-quality and spammy websites from search results. This means that things like autoblogs, website that steal content and other insidious, less-helpful websites with stolen content should begin to swirl down the proverbial drain while websites with amazing content that people find useful get pushed to the top.

But what does this mean for search engine users, and what should websites do to prevent losses in their rankings?

 

What Does Panda 4.0 Mean for Search Engine Users?

The new Google Panda 4.0 update will be the turning point of how searches work. This is big for everyone, search engine users and websites included.

Here’s how Matt Cutts explains the Panda 4.0 update:

Matt Cutts Explains Panda 4.0 in a Twitter Tweet

This means that searches should get a lot more friendly for people whom try to use them. Results should begin to be more accurate and more sensible as the Panda 4.0 update begins to complement the semantic search features implemented with Google Hummingbird and the content-oriented Penguin updates.

 

How Can Websites Prevent Being Hurt by Yet Another Google Update?

While every other Google update has brought about the same kind of ‘Panda’-monium as four horse riders wearing dark hoods would,this is likely one of the very few updates where I honestly wouldn’t recommend that you change anything of what you’re doing with your website if you want to keep your rankings.

Why is this? Because a number of websites whom focus on the time-tested strategy of creating amazing content with their blogs and posting new, helpful articles have reported astounding gains since the implementation of Google Panda 4.0 on Sunday.

The only thing I would recommend is that if you’re not already focused on doing so, then begin writing new content and cross-promoting it on your social media marketing platforms. If you haven’t already looked at my Most comprehensive List of Web 2.0 Sites, then I recommend starting there. This will ensure that positive signals get sent to your content, which in turn will allow your websites to rank that much better in an era where content is still king.

 

What do you think about the Google Panda 4.0 Update? Has it hurt you or helped you? Are search results more useful and accurate? Leave your voice below in the comments.

The Most Comprehensive List of Web 2.0 Sites Ever Created (2016)

Most Comprehensive Web 2.0 List Ever Made

Web 2.0 sites are in high demand. They make for excellent properties that you can use as a basis for everything from content marketing to off-site SEO.

The main problem that businesses and individuals have when it comes to Web 2.0 sites is deciding which ones to use. Contrary to what most people will want you to believe, the PageRank has a minimal impact upon how effective they are.

In this post, I’m going to go through a comprehensive list of the 46 most popular Web 2.0 sites. While I’ll arrange these by PageRank, I will add a separate portion that rates how useful these Web 2.0 sites are and give a recommendation as to how you should use them.

 

What Can You Use Web 2.0 Sites For?

There’s a lot of things that you can use Web 2.0 sites for. Below is just a short list of the things that they can do:

  • They rank highly on their own. This means that you can use them to squeeze out your competition for low to medium competition searches.
  • They convey a sizable chunk of domain authority. That makes them useful for SEO purposes. You can further increase the domain authority by being an active participant on some of these Web 2.0 sites.
  • They can generate traffic on their own. Some, but not all, of these Web 2.0 sites can generate traffic on their own through internal mechanisms. For example, Hubpages has things like related hubs that can drive traffic to your pages from other related pages that you may not own.

The List of the Best Web 2.0 Sites

Without further ado, let’s take a look at the most comprehensive list of Web 2.0 sites available on the Internet.

Let’s start off with addressing the top 20 Web 2.0 sites you want to use with a quick analysis of each.

 

1. WordPress.com – PR 9

WordPress.com is a blogging platform that makes it easy to use WordPress without having your own website. Things like the WordPress Readers, comments and the ability for registered and unregistered users to follow your blog make it a versatile Web 2.0 website.

What you need to watch out for is that you can only promote your own products on a WordPress.com blog. Your blog can be terminated at a moment’s notice if you spam backlinks to it or violate any of the WordPress.com terms of service.

Rating: 9.0/10
Suggested Use: Multi-purpose with a focus on traffic generation.

 

2. Blogger.com – PR 8

Blogger is a Web 2.0 site run by Google. This means that it has the unique ability to integrate with your Google+ profile, which you may find more useful if you’ve done work on it. Pages and posts published on Blogger tend to be indexed quickly and tend to rank above average in search engines with little or no extra off-page SEO.

The one downside about Blogger is that it seems to be made more for SEO than for anything else. You can use it as a secondary blog for your main site, but I would only recommend this is you have an excess of content to post here.

Rating: 8.5/10
Suggested Use: Off-site SEO or Blogging

 

3.LiveJournal – PR 8

LiveJournal is a relatively unique Web 2.0 site. While it has a high PageRank, it has a relatively low value for businesses and Internet marketers looking to complement their existing digital presence. Live Journal pages not only tend to rank low, but they tend to draw minimal traffic (save for certain special cases) and tend to look poorly.

Rating: 7.5/10
Suggested Use: Strictly SEO

 

4. Tumblr – PR 8

Tumblr stands as a stark contrast to the previous Web 2.0 site. Not only does it have a superb traffic generation ability, but it also tends to pass domain authority fairly well.

The one caveat is that Tumblr needs an active hand for you to see consistent results from it.

Rating: 8.5/10
Suggested Use: Content and Social Media Marketing

 

5. TypePad – PR 8

TypePad, for all intents and purposes, is more similar to WordPress.com than anything else. You have a feature similar to the WordPress reader and the chance to be featured on the front page of the website.

The only thing that I’ve noticed about TypePad that isn’t’ so spectacular is how it passes domain authority. It seems both hard to collect authority from TypePad through commenting and cross-posting and like TypePad doesn’t want to pass that authority off-site so well.

Rating 7.5/10
Suggested Used: Content Marketing and Blogging

 

6. Weebly – PR 8

Weebly is one of my personal favorites to use when building off-site web properties. Not only do Weebly sites tend to rank fairly well on their own, but they pass link juice and tend to respond well to multi-tier link building strategies.

The only downside is that Weebly tends to not generate traffic on its own like the other Web 2.0 sites listed here.

Rating: 9.0/10
Suggested Use: Secondary Websites, Content Marketing and SEO

 

7. My.Opera.com – PR 8

My.Opera.com used to be a fairly lucrative Web 2.0 property website to use. It provided a way to organically attract visitors while creating pages that ranked fairly well in search results.

However, this Web 2.0 property has been closed since March 3rd, 2014.

Rating: N/A
Suggested Use: None, as it’s closed.

 

8. Squidoo – PR 7

Squidoo is another Web 2.0 site that will work to naturally produce traffic on its own from internal sources. Related pages will drive visitors to both your Squidoo lenses and your links.

The one thing to watch out for is that there are certain stipulations about what sites you can link to on your lenses and how often.

Rating: 8.5/10
Suggested Use: SEO and Content Marketing

Squidoo’s registration is currently closed after HubPages acquired it. Avoid until further notice.

 

9. Tripod – PR 7

Tripod has been around since times ancient as far as the Internet is concerned. It’s still a valid place to build a mini-site, but you may want to do so only if you have to.

The simple reason is that Tripod contains a lot of ads and passes on little SEO value due to the numerous outbound links that tend to be sponsored by Tripod.

Rating: 5.0/10
Suggested Use: Avoid unless you need another property

 

10. Bravenet – PR 7

Bravenet has come a long way since its more humble beginnings. It’s now a fully-fledged website builder that’s capable of making decent-looking websites on the fly.

The downside is that unlike many of the other Web 2.0 sites listed here, there’s little in the way of traffic generation. This means that you’re on your own if you plan to use it for anything more than SEO.

Rating: 8.0/10
Suggested Use: SEO or Mini-Site Building

 

11. Multiply – PR 7

Multiply used to be my preferred Web 2.0 site to use over options like Jimbdo and Weebly, but it has since closed down. It had a decent amount of mechanics that made traffic generation easy.

Rating: N/A
Suggested Use: None, Multiply has closed.

 

12. Webs.com – PR 7

Webs, formerly known as “Freewebs”, is a step or two above Tripod in terms of website creation. You’re given a number of nifty utilities such as a guest book and gallery.

The downside with Webs is that any domain authority that would get transferred to your links tends to bleed out through the numerous advertisements shown on the pages. These advertisements make it hard to use Webs as a mini-site.

Rating: 6.0/10
Suggested Use: Secondary Property for SEO

 

13. Jimbdo – PR 7

I personally like Jimbdo for the numerous features you gain access to without paying. You’ve got a great website builder that can work to create a decent mini-site for your business.

As far as setbacks go, Jimdo has very few. You still have links in the footer to Jimdo’s main page and a handful of ads. You also don’t have any type of natural traffic generation on Jimdo unless you pay for it.

Rating: 8.5/10
Suggested Use: Multi-Purpose

 

14. Wikispaces – PR 7

Wikispaces is probably the best place to create your own Wiki. The only catch is that it should be a wiki geared towards education. You can probably red between the lines here to see what that would be.

With that being said, spammy wikis tend to be deleted on a regular basis.

Rating: 7.5/10
Suggested Use: Content Marketing

 

15. Xanga – PR 7

Xanga is a social networking websites that has been around since the days of MySpace. The only caveat is that, unlike MySpace, they have evolved their website to be more of a blogging platform combined with the features that Live Journal provides.

The only drawback to using Xanga is that it’s not a solution for businesses. It’s best to take the “personal blog” approach if you plan to do so, as it will make your efforts go further.

Rating: 8.0/10
Suggested Use: Blogging or SEO

 

16. Yola – PR 7

Yola makes for a decent Web 2.0 property. While there’s no internal flow of traffic like there are on other websites and you’re fairly limited unless you pay a regular subscription, Yola’s still worthwhile when it comes to SEO uses.

Without paying, you get access to 1GB of bandwidth, 1GB of storage and 3 pages for your Web 2.0 site. This is why I recommend it for SEO rather than anything else.

Rating: 8.5/10
Suggested Use: SEO

 

17. Quizilla – PR 7

Quizilla is another website like Live Journal It’s not suited for making anything professional on it unless your audience coincides with that of the teenage audience that tends to use Quizilla.

With that being said, you can still use Quizilla for link-building purposes.

Rating: 7.5/10
Suggested Use: SEO or Content Marketing in Special Cases

18. Gather – PR 6

Gather is something closer to an article website than anything else, but it still qualifies as a Web 2.0 site. You can dress up your author profile page akin to one, which makes it useful for businesses.

As far as drawbacks go, there are few. You have traffic generation and pages that will have a decent chance to rank in search engines on their own for low to medium competition keywords.

Rating: 8.0/10
Suggested Use: Content Marketing with SEO Secondary

 

19. Hubpages – PR 6

Hubpages is one of my favorite Web 2.0 sites to use, but not because there’s any outstanding link building benefits to it. It’s the fact that you can leverage it to paint yourself as an authority among like-minded individuals, which in turn can allow you to draw more traffic than you ever would have thought possible.

The main problem I have with Hubpages is that your fellow authors tend to be rather cut-throat. This may be a side effect of Hubpage’s popularity to be used as a “Post and Dump” place for blackhat link building schemes, or it may just be due to the competitive nature Hubpages tends to foster. Be careful of what you post here.

Rating: 8.0/10
Suggested Use: Content Marketing and Targeting Low-Competition Searches

 

20. Blog.co.uk – PR 6

Blog.co.uk is yet another blogging website. You get all the standard blogging features with a little bit of internal traffic being driven your way.

The reason that Blog.co.uk doesn’t rate higher with me stems from the fact that it tends to be highly prone to prolonged periods of downtime. This can make it problematic, which is why I recommend that you use it purely for SEO purposes.

Rating: 6.5/10
Suggested Use: SEO with a Touch of Content Marketing

 

But What About the Other Web 2.0 Websites?

No list of Web 2.0 websites could call itself comprehensive without listing the other Web 2.0 sites out there. Just keep in mind that many of these websites are transient, – which means that they may be here today but gone tomorrow.

For everything listed below here, I recommend that you use these are tertiary or further websites if you’re dealing with tiered link building. Don’t invest too much in these Web 2.0 sites since you have better alternatives available to you.

 

The List of Every Other Web 2.0 Site

  1. Blog.com – PR 6
  2. Diaryland.com – PR 6
  3. Blogspirit.com – PR 6
  4. Zimbio – PR 6
  5. SOSBlog.com – PR 6
  6. Gather.com – PR 6
  7. Weblogs.uk – PR 5
  8. Blogdrive.com – PR 5
  9. Thoughts.com – PR 5
  10. Blogtext.org – PR 5
  11. InsaneJournal – PR 5
  12. TBlog – PR 4
  13. 20Six.co.uk – PR 4
  14. Blog.ca – PR 4
  15. BlogSkinny.com – PR 4
  16. Blurty – PR 4
  17. Free-Conversant.com – PR 4
  18. FreeFlux.net – PR 4
  19. Blog.com – PR 4
  20. BlogHi.com – PR 4
  21. BlogStudio.com – PR 4
  22. WikyBlog.com – PR 3
  23. Blogigo – PR 3
  24. JournalFen – PR 3

 

Which of these sites is your favorite to use? What purpose do you use it for? Did I miss your favorite Web 2.0 website? Did you just appreciate the list?

Leave a comment below!

SEO Basics: A Keyword Research Tutorial For Google Panda

Let’s face it, the last couple of Google Panda updates have thrown a lot of small time marketers for a loop. While Panda’s done a lot of great things for semantic searches, it’s definitely thrown a lot of websites into disarray. That’s the main reason I’m going to start a mini-series covering SEO basics for after Google Panda.

I assume that this information will remain relatively unchanged due to where I and a number of SEO experts see the world’s biggest search engine going in the near future.

I’ll leave that conjecture for another day.

Anyway, onto the main dish. Today I’m going to go over what I consider the best keyword research tutorial for Google Panda.

The Basics of Keyword Research

I’m going to make this tutorial very open for people, so I’m going to use the Google AdWords Keyword Tool and Google search engine for all of it. If you’re interested in tools that could potentially give you a leg up on a competition, then check out my posts detailing the best keyword research tools of 2013.

Anyway, here’s what my routine is for when I’m looking for new keywords to target.

First, I open up the Google AdWords Keyword Tool.

Then, I set up my environment to look similar to the picture below.

My Google AdWords Keyword Tool Setup

This is the AdWords Keyword Tool that I use for most of my small to medium-sized products during keyword research.

Next, I start brainstorming keywords. Then I search for results that have anywhere from 500 to 10,000 global monthly search results.

The brainstorming part is probably the most difficult.Get creative and feel free to look for synonyms. I use both the Keyword ideas and Ad group  Ideas features.

The last part of this process is to come up with a list of keywords that you like. At this point, you’re going to want to aim for a very, very long list of keywords because the next step is likely to cut your list in about a tenth.

Testing Your Keyword Research’s Viability

It’s not only important to have keywords that have a good number of searches, but it’s also important to be able to rank high for them. The ideal position is #1, as it’s the position that gets 20-40% of all clicks.

You’re going to go right to Google and enter your search terms. You should have your search results set to show at least the top 20 results.

You need to look for five key things:

  1. High Profile Websites
  2. High Profile Forums
  3. Yahoo! Answer Results
  4. Youtube Videos
  5. Web 2.0 Properties (Like Squidoo, Weebly, etc.)

If you’re missing the first two, then there’s a very good chance that you can rank for #1 with a moderate amount of effort.

If you’re missing four, then you should probably go after this keyword.

If you’re missing all five, then you’d be silly not to go for it. You should create these five listed things for that keyword.

Here’s What’s Different About Keyword Research With Panda

Google has shifted towards a semantic search engine. What this means is it no longer searches for the exact term “Lavender Grills”, but it now searches for every synonym of the word. In other words, you’ll see results for “Purple BBQs”, “Lavender BBQs”, and so on.

This is the reason a large number of website targeting long-tail phrases have seen rank drops. It’s also why some keyword choices are no longer viable in the ways that they used to be.

Conclusions About Keywords and Panda

That’s a bare bones insight on how I do research for keywords, and probably how most beginners should start out.

This ensures that you’ll find keywords you can rank for and that you’ll see some sort of results in a timely manner without getting discouraged. Remember that Google is changing a number of rules of the game, so stay tuned for my next update on SEO basics.

If you think that you’re prepared enough, feel free to go over to my post I detail the best keyword research tools of 2013.

Basic On-Site SEO (Part 2)

In my last post about Basic On-Site SEO, I talked about what I go over before I even make a website when choosing keywords and choosing a domain name, and I went over the bare minimum you should have between the <head></head> tags of your website, which includes the title and meta tags.

In this post I’m going to continue talking about the basic things I do when it comes to the bare necessities between the <body></body> tags (in other words the actual content!) So I’ll be going over four big things in this post: heading tags, a general overview of what your content should be, internal links, and images.

The Barebones of the Body

1. Heading Tags

There’s three major heading tags: h1, h2, and h3. Your page should have your main keyword in h1 tags and you should have one or two h1 tags on your page. Your h2 tags should be phrases that relate to your keyword, as should your h3 tags be.

Borrowing from the “million dollar bills” example, “million dollar bills” would be in h1 tags somewhere at the top of your page once. “Some of the wackiest million dollar bills online!” might be in an h2 tag further down your page and “You won’t find funnier million dollar bills anywhere else.” might be in an h3 tag later.

I follow this methodology because I have read and come to the conclusion that search engines place emphasis on heading tags, with h1 having the msot importance and h6 having the least importance over heading tags with h2 to h5 in-between h1 and h6.

2. Page Content

Your page’s actual content should have your keyword in it at least a few times and you should have some length of content.

I know that both keyword density and the length of your content is up to debate, but I generally just write while trying to be sensible and coherent while keeping a word count of at least 400 and around 1200 to 2000 words maximum. I then go back, check for keyword density and then try to tweak it so that it’s anywhere between 2% to 9%.

3. Internal Links

Internal links are more important, in my own opinion, than backlinks from other websites when it comes to SEO.

When I write content, I make sure to have at least 1-3 links to other pages using keywords for that content as the anchor text in my paragraphs. I’ve always abided by this because I know from experimentation that search engines tend to value anchor text in paragraphs over anchor text that is just sitting about by itself like in a menu.

4. Images and alt text

There are two things I specifically worry about when it comes to images: (a) I make sure images have a relevant filename (“wacky-obama-million-dollar-bill.jpg”) and (b) I make sure that the alt text is relevant (“Wacky Obama Million Dollar Bill – On Sale for $4.99”).

From my experience, both of these things add to the relevancy of your page’s content in the eyes of search engines. Plus, it helps draw visitors from image search engines! :)

And there it is. Those are all the basic things I worry about. I tried to give just a general overview and checklist, as there are a lot of specific things to worry about depending on if you are trying to rank an actual webpage that you made from scratch, a WordPress blog, or even a forum for a certain keyword.

I hope you’ve been able to make some use of what I do personally!

And as always, comments, questions, and discussion is highly encouraged. :-)

Basic On-Site SEO (Part 1)

Since I promised to write about SEO, I figured that it would be good to start off this category with a post about the things I worry about when it comes to on-site optimization on a new website.

The Preparatory Steps

The first thing I do is I make sure I have a list of keywords that I want to target to rank for in the search engines or a list of keywords I want to advertise for on Adwords.

The next thing I do is that I buy a domain with the main keyword I want ot target with that website. For example, if I were making a website about “One Million Dollar Bills”, I’d try to get a domain that was something like http://www.one-million-dollar-bills.com. (Though, you can make a domain anything you want because it’s the content and links that make you rank. I’ve never seen any conclusive evidence that having the keyword in your domain name helps you rank any better.)

Once I have those two things and my website set up, I start with my on-site SEO.

Everything in the <head> tags

1. The Title.

The title of your page(the part between the <title></title> tag) needs to have your main keyword in it and it needs to be 70 characters or less. You have to also keep in mind that this is commonly what your user will see in the search results as the title of your page, so make sure it’s not spammy and that it’s eye-catching.

2. Meta tags

Your meta tags should consist of at least a description and your keywords.

Remember to keep your description to under 150 characters so that all of it is shown in Google and Yahoo, and to separate your keywords with commas with no more than a few keywords on each page.

Example meta tags with the title element.

<head>

<title>The Wackiest Million Dollar Bills - Cheap Novelty Gifts & Ideas</title>
<meta name="description" content="The biggest online assortment of wacky million dollar bills at the cheapest prices, some of which you won't find anywhere else!" />
<meta name="keywords" content="million dollar bills, wacky dollar bills, novelty dollar bills" />
</head>

On an extra note, I usually don’t stress over meta keywords because I am under the impression that Google disregards meta keywords. But that isn’t to say that other major search engines disregard them. :-)

(Optional) External Stylesheets and Scripts

While this does not directly affect on-site SEO, it helps to keep all your stylesheets and scripts in external pages. There’s a class of SEO that believes it helps keep the content on your page more relevant.

However, I do this because it reduces the page access time and the amount of data transferred. (It really matters when you have 3,000 unique views a day on a website!)

Next up… The Body!

I’m actually surprised how much I’ve written already, so I’m going to break up this post into two posts. I’ll talk about the most important things to be aware of in the actual body of the page next time, which includes heading tags, a general overview of what your content should be, internal links, and images.

Continue on to On-site SEO (Part 2).