What is a Quality Link?

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No one really knows the exact metrics that go into deciding how valuable a link is, but it quite clear that all links are not equal.

At one end of the scale there are all sorts of spammy types of links. I will define these as any type of link that adds no value to the web and is created purely for the sake of getting a link, normally for SEO. (I know that is pretty vague but I want room to wriggle!)

In times gone by and up to fairly recently, these links have been very effective. Google is getting smarter all the time though and their number one enemy is spam. Spam sites, spam content and spam links. So unsurprisingly, these links have been devalued to one degree or another. What is more, it seems that having those types of links pointing to your site now may actually harm your rankings.

So, if we ignore all of these types of links, and look at links that a normal site may have aquired in a more or less natural way, we would probably find, links from friends blogs, local contacts, forums that you participate in etc. These links are fine. They are clearly not spam and those sites probably have a small amount of trust and authority. They are unlikely to help you much though in terms of rankings for any competitive terms.

One link from a industry specific site of reasonable quality and age will more than likely have a larger effect than all the rest put together and one link from a world-wide recognised name like the BBC or CNN would probably give you a boost that is an order of magnitude greater.

So what factors influence the actual quality of the link? In no particular order, you should think about:

Relevance of the site to your keyword
Relevance of the page
Relevance of the text around the link
Quality of the site, age, freshness, original content etc.
Prominence of the link
Number of outbound links and their target
Alexa rankings to gauge popularity of the site.

These are of course just a selection and there will be many more factors, but these should get you thinking about where to get the best links for your site.

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5 Tips to Build your Brand with Social Media

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Think about what kind of community the site you are looking at has and pick the ones that are most relevant to your business.

Focus on understanding why people are at that site and what they want from it. Then you can give them that and sprinkle some marketing messages in, rather than ramming messages down their throat.

Think about how you can relate to your visitors and how they can relate to you. The corporate message is unlikely to work. It’s supposed to be social!

Don’t think that you shouldn’t be on one of the more image focused sites like Pinterest or Instagram if you don’t have a visual product. Get creative and think about how you can fit your message into that arena.

Be willing to try different approaches. Brainstorm and give each one a go. you may be surprised at what sticks.

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Some tips to help improve your Adwords campaigns.

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To raise your quality score, focus on the relevance of your ad before landing pages.
The ad is the first thing that the user sees from Google’s point of view. The CTR of your ad is important because it is fair to say that ads that are more relevant to a particular search phrase get clicked more often.
To improve your quality score, work on split testing your ad until it’s CTR is at higher level before moving on to our landing pages.

Create individual landing pages for each ad group.
Google wants a clear funnel all the way through from search to the landing page. Having separate landing pages for each ad group allows you to tailor much more specifically for each keyword.

Don’t expect to see changes to your Quality score immediately.
Google has stated that you can expect to see improvements after making a change “over the next several months”. So, if you make a change and see no improvements, don’t give up too soon.

Don’t forget about the Display Network.
With CTR’s 6 times the industry average, GDN is worth looking into to maximise returns. Split your search and display campaigns out though to be safe.

Focus on site quality for organic listings but, landing pages for Adwords.
Site quality is not a big issue for Adwords. The things that you should be focusing on are the relevance of your ad and your landing page.

Don’t use ad position to effect CTR.
It would seem to make sense that if CTR is used to determine relevance and therefore quality score and if higher ad positions almost always get higher CTR’s, then getting a higher position will improve quality score. This would not be fair and is not the case. Google factors in ad position when using CTR to calculate quality score.

Think of how the ad will be effected when thinking of how much to split keywords into ad groups.

If an ad would look significantly different when it is matched to different keywords, it is worth using a new ad group. You need to factor in volume when doing this though and assess if the work is worth the benefit.

Read more about this here;
http://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2012/06/04/quality-score-landing-pages-faq

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How big an impact do Social signals have on Search engine Rankings?

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Firstly, it is worth bearing in mind that if a searcher is getting personalised results (if they are signed in) and they are a fan of your business, it is highly likely that you will appear higher up their search page. The same goes if they have been visiting you a lot. So it is worth getting them to your site often as that will increase the chance that they will come back even more!

But, I think that we need to look at this from a non-personalised point of view.

It appears that one of the things that Google found in a recent study on social sharing is that it is inherently more PERSONAL than broadcast channels and as so may not be as big of a ranking factor as some people think.

On the other hand, a huge study performed by Search Metrics: http://blog.searchmetrics.com/us/2012/06/07/us-and-uk-seo-ranking-factors-2012/
showed a strong correlation between social signals and Google rankings. (correlation, not necessarily causation)

It is likely, that social metrics are used to factor into a trust and authority score in some way but not all of them. Google have recently  come out and said that +1 are not a good quality indicator at the moment. If you think about it, Social media and the platforms it uses change so quickly that if would be very hard to use indicators such as likes or Tweets to influence rankings because of how fast the landscape changes.

To the extent that Google can identify users, it may have an effect on rankings, but probably not the individual sites.

Social media is of huge benefit to a business but probably not from an SEO point of view.

Read more here:

http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2184210/How-Much-Do-Social-Signals-Play-Into-Google-Rankings

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Does your site pass the Red Pen Test?

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SEO best practices have changes massively with the recent Google Panda and Penguin updates.

It used to be the case that the best way to optimise a site for a particular keyword basically involved trying to get that keyword in as much as possible without it looking too unnatural or spoiling it for the visitor.

Google is getting smarter though! They can basically now tell if your use of language is unnatural and is being twisted to fit in keywords.

Here is an example:

If you have a site selling pens, the standard SEO technique would be to put in keywords exactly as a searcher would type them. So you might have, Felt tip Pens, Biro Pens, Marker Pens etc. in your menu. But given that your visitor knows that they are on a site about pens, they would be perfectly able to understand a menu that said: Felt tip, Marker, Biro etc. and in fact, adding the word ‘pen’ to each line makes it more cumbersome.

Google is now able to spot this sort of thing and is actively penalising it.

If you have had any sort of SEO done on your site, it is imperative that you check that your site passes the new test.

See the full test here:
http://seobraintrust.com/red-pen-test/

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