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The Cloud Plays Billiards

SEOEight members of the Cloud family walked into Slick Willie’s pool hall as a team with heads held high. That particular night, they did not leave in quite the same spirits.

Aaron Dillon, Ngage Operations Manager, had experience in Pool League Play from years previous and decided to collect seven other members from Cloud [8] Sixteen, Inc., to form a pool team for a local Tuesday night league. One week later, our dynamic group entered into 9 and 8 ball competition. With varied levels of pool experience, the rag tag team had a few rough weeks in the beginning, but has been making vast improvements with each passing week.

A string of close losses and meaningful victories in the last couple matches has led them to the opportunity to jump up 2 spots this past Tuesday. While their record may not be the best, in true Cloud fashion, the team has already garnered a reputation for being a social force, forging new friendships with each team they compete against. Everyone is in high spirits and looking to spend the second half of the season fighting for a position in the End of Season Tournament.

If any ringers out there would like to join the Cloud Family for the purposes of elevating the pool team, send applications to sgerald@cloud816.com.

Andrew Cox  July 15th, 2013 – Posted by to Company Events.

To contact the author, emails can be sent to: acox@thesearchengineguys.com


SEO Toolkit Spotlight: Majestic SEO

Here at The Search Engine Guys, we take pride in our agility; we’re quick to execute client requests and responsive to Google algorithm updates, all while managing our daily tasks. As a player in the tech and web game, having an edge up on our competition is always important. And we would not be able to maintain our competitive edge without a variety of tools at our disposal, day in and day out.

majestic-seo-logo-1

As the SEO Strategist, the tool I use most when I’m working is Majestic SEO. Majestic offers a myriad of tools to really take a deep look at a given website. Similar to many other online services (including search engines), Majestic SEO compiles what I personally believe to be the largest and most complete data set available. While they are not the only service to provide this kind of reporting, based on my experience, the metrics that Majestic SEO uses are the most beneficial and accurate on the market. From the Majestic page “About Us“,

Majestic SEO surveys and maps the Internet and has created the largest commercial Link Intelligence database in the world. This Internet map is used by SEOs, New Media Specialists, Affiliate Managers and online Marketing experts for a variety of uses surrounding online prominence including Link Building, Reputation Management, Website Traffic development, Competitor analysis and News Monitoring. As link data is also a component of search engine ranking, understanding the link profile of your own, as well as competitor websites can empower rational study of Search Engine positioning. Majestic SEO is constantly revisiting web pages and sees around a billion URLs a day.

Majestic SEO is Loaded with Features

The most frequently used Majestic tool would definitely be the Site Explorer. Its easy-to-navigate interface allows large data sets to be parsed and summarized to make sure you see all of the most valuable information about a site all on one page. Simply enter in the URL you wish to investigate, click explore, and voila!

Majestic SEO   Backlink Checker   Site Explorer

Once you’ve entered in your URL, you’re whisked away to find the Explorer Summary. This page displays all kinds of valuable information, like:

  • External Backlink Count
  • Referring Domain Count
  • Referring IPs
  • Referring Class C Subnets
  • Page Title
  • Anchor Text Distribution
  • 5 Most Valuable Links
  • Back-link Discovery Graphs

While this page displays only a summary, being able to visualize the important pieces of each section lays the foundation for professional site analysis. There are clickable tabs that allow you to delve deeper into each section, as you’ll notice below:

Site Explorer Results   Summary   Majestic SEO

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Using Majestic SEO to Recover from Penguin 2.0

On May 22nd, Matt Cutts announced that Google had begun rolling out an algorithm update known as Penguin 2.0. Webmasters were quick to notice that many of the sites that lost ranking on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) had something in common – over optimized anchor text. What had once been a viable strategy was now being frowned upon. Without a tool like Majestic SEO Explorer, noticing these trends would have been much, much harder.

Site Explorer Results   Anchor Text   Majestic SEO

Click here to enlarge.

Packages and Pricing

Another thing to love about Majestic SEO is the multi-tiered pricing structure. For starters, if you are interested in exploring a site that you own, there is free access by going through a quick validation process. This free access extends only to exploring your own site, but for the average website owner or in-house marketing guy, this is a perfect taste of what is to come with the monthly pricing.

The first paid package is the Silver tier at $49.99 a month. Compared to Majestic’s two major competitors, this entry level tier is easily the most affordable. This package offers everything that an individual or small business would need, including 60 detailed reports a month, and a maximum of 5 million analyzable back links.

The second paid tier is the Gold tier, at $149.99 a month. Compared to Majestic’s competitors, this mid-level package is still the most affordable. The major differences in the Silver and Gold packages are the increased number of detailed reports allowed monthly (300 a month) and an increase in the maximum number of analyzable back links (25 million). This tier will offer plenty of functionality and has plenty of allocated resources for even a large, enterprise-level corporation.

The final, largest tier is Platinum. At a whopping $399.99 monthly, you are offered the ability to run a staggering 950 reports per month and analyze up to 100 million back links. The big difference in the Gold and Platinum tiers is the ability to access the Majestic API, giving developers easy access to parse the database and extract information to build their own reports.

The Final Verdict

At The Search Engine Guys, we have subscribed to and used Majestic SEO on a daily basis for over 3 years. We would not be able to handle the high volume of client reporting and data analysis we examine without the tools provided by Majestic SEO, and recommend it to anyone looking for a comprehensive way to do website analysis. With continued updates and support, the team behind Majestic continues to impress us, and we’re looking forward to maintaining our relationship with the company for years to come.

Bradley Lewis  July 8th, 2013 – Posted by to Search Engine Optimization.

To contact the author, emails can be sent to: blewis@thesearchengineguys.com


Google Hits June With A Heat Wave

lawyer seo for attorneys

Ever since Matt Cutts, Google’s head engineer in charge of web-spam released a video in May about what to expect in the next few months in terms of SEO, there have been noticeable fluctuations in the search results for many website owners.

The MozCast Google weather tracker is a tool designed by the highly regarded web-marketing company Moz. Recently, their “Mozcast” site displayed what many SEO experts consider to be alarming temperatures in the month of June. A “regular” temperature reading is usually somewhere between 50 to 80 degrees, but two readings this month have shot up over 100 degrees, breaking records in the weather chart. In fact, June 27, 2013 yielded a 120 degree reading, the highest ever seen in the history of MozCast. Overall, changes in the Google algorithm have shaken up the search results a few times this past month, including roll outs such as:

  • 10 Day Panda Monthly Update
  • Payday Loan Algorithm
  • Partial-Domain Match Update
  • Multi-Week Update

10 Day Panda Monthly Update (Panda Dance)

In March, Google mentioned that they will stop publicly announcing Panda updates, as the algorithm will continue to roll out monthly. Google is currently pushing out Panda updates over a 10 day period every 30 days.

What does this mean exactly? Google pushes the update on a specific day, so from that start day, the algorithm will continue to push out over a 10 day span. The push will continue to repeat itself every month.

Google has been working on refining the Panda algorithm to help sites that are lingering “on the border” of being impacted by the update. Cutts mentioned that they are “softening” the Panda algorithm by adding signals to search for quality metrics on these types of websites. It is unclear as to how soft these roll outs will be or how much change will take place in the search results.

Payday Loan Algorithm

Cutts also mentioned in this video (at 2:30) that there will be a new search update targeting “spammy queries.” Roughly a month after the video was posted, Cutts sent a tweet out confirming his statement in the video.

Certain industries, one being payday loans, are infamous for abusing Google’s algorithm by using automated software to build quick backlinks within a short amount of time. Of course, these websites do get caught after some time and lose their rankings once detected. Once the website gets flagged by Google for their unfavorable link building tactics, these companies then toss the old website, start over with a new website, and repeat. This “churn and burn” method is considered illegal and has been on Google’s action list to clean up.

This algorithm update is aimed to target link building and spam tactics globally. Other affected search terms include “car insurance” and pornographic related queries.

Partial-Domain Match Update

On June 25th, the MozCast reached 113 degrees, ousting the previous high of 102 degrees set on December 13, 2012. In this blog post by Dr. Peter J. Meyers from Moz, he discusses case studies monitoring de-personalized and de-localized queries.

Meyers conducted two different studies on the search terms “limousine service” and “auto auction.” Both cases showed similar patterns that indicate a partial-match domain update.

Multi-Week Update

While the temperature in MozCast is experiencing high levels of fluctuation, Cutts also threw a Multi-Week update into the mix. Details on this update haven’t been confirmed yet, but there have been speculations as to what kind of update this will be. Will it be a follow up to the Payday Loan Algorithm or is this PMD update just a trigger to something of greater impact?

Cutts announced the rollout was happening on June 21, 2013 and will continue to affect the search results until the week after July 4, 2013. We’ll keep an eye on this while this update keeps rolling out through the month of July.

Why does Google push out algorithm updates so often?

Google strives to improve the quality of search results for the user by keeping quality sites ranked high and devaluing sites that prove to be harmful or untrustworthy. To assure that Google users have the best matching results for their queries, algorithm pushes are necessary to keep spam and questionable websites off your results page.

What should you expect for July?

There will be constant algorithm fluctuations this next month, considering the turbulence that occurred in the last week of June. If the pattern continues with the Multi-Week update, we could be approaching a few more stormy SEO days. Look out for:

  • Advanced spam detection as Google is constantly fighting off low quality and irrelevant websites
  • Google working on improving malware detection
  • Due to the consistent Panda roll outs, Google will be working on improving this update by adding new metrics and quality signals

What does this mean for you?

If your site has lost placement recently or has been moving around in the SERPs, the high number of algorithm changes that rolled out in June may be the reason. While we expect things to start settling down soon, the effects of these updates are likely to continue for a little while longer.

Nancy Tran   July 3th, 2013 – Posted by to Search Engine Optimization.

To contact the author, emails can be sent to: ntran@thesearchengineguys.com


Google Announces Local Carousel Display

local seo for attorneys

Over the years, Google has continually updated the layout of search results. On June 18th, Google announced they were rolling out an interactive carousel of local results “for local dining, nightlife, hotels, and other attractions on desktop” that will be featured at the top of the page. Below is an example of the new Local Carousel:

GoogleCarousel
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On the day of the announcement, Google+ Local community manager Jade Wang offered advice for businesses in a post on the Google and Your Business Forum:

How can I get my business to show up in the carousel?

While we can’t guarantee inclusion in search results, we can say that the carousel will show results from listings in Google Maps using categories. Just as in regular ranking, Google’s algorithms take into account many factors to select the places and results that are most relevant to the user. This algorithm based approach is also used to decide which businesses are in the carousel.

Why is this feature only available for some business verticals?

We’re committed to providing users a high quality search experience for every query. The carousel filtering experience is a good fit for some categories of local businesses. We will continue to experiment with different designs and interfaces to make sure that users get the information they’re looking for, fast.

I’d like to see this feature in more languages and countries, please!

We’ll work as fast as we can to roll out new features in as many places as possible, but have nothing to announce at this time.

My business is on the carousel, but I’d like to change the photo. How can I do that?

The Google business listing is one of several sources we use for the photos in the carousel, and making sure high-quality images are posted to it will help improve your photo. However the image selection, like the actual ranking of businesses, is primarily decided by algorithms and so we can’t guarantee complete control over the image.

While the answers to the questions listed above offer some great insight, you may still be asking yourself the following questions:

  • What are the most important factors that stand out on Local Carousel?
  • How will the carousel change user behavior?
  • What does this mean for local businesses and how will this affect their local search strategy?

At The Search Engine Guys, these are all important questions we discuss when building our local search strategy. We have dedicated our time to studying the history of changes regarding local search and keep ourselves informed regarding the most recent updates.

Standing Out On Local Carousel

In comparison to the previous local results on Google, the new carousel displays results horizontally versus vertically. There must be at least 5 local results for the carousel to be displayed. If there are any fewer, it will show the original 1, 2, 3, or 4 pack display. It was noted by local search expert Mike Blumenthal that “the new Local Carousel will show up to 20 results if there are that many in any given market.” Depending on the size of your screen, the number of results that will display before using the scrolling feature will vary. Each business result will feature a photo, the business name, and rating and review information. The photo below shows how the Local Carousel aligns with the old 7-pack result set:

GoogleCarouselResults
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The Carousel Effect: Higher Click-through Rates

I am interested in seeing if the clicks for local results will be more evenly distributed now that the results are showing horizontally versus vertically. In an article posted on Search Engine Land, they discuss a study conducted by search marketer Matthew Hunt who used heat maps to gauge interest levels for results. It was discovered that 48% of searchers click the carousel while only 14.5% of users clicked the map. I also look forward to seeing if the photo selected by the Google algorithm for local listings has an impact on click through rates.

HeatMap
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Round and Round We Go: Back to 5 Star Ratings

Now more than ever, it is important to place locally on Google. Because the carousel features an image for each business, it is important that all of the photos you have posted are high quality and representative of your business. Reviews will also become more important because of Google’s announcement discussing the return of the 5 star review system. Once a business has received 5 reviews, the stars will be highlighted in gold , which could be a determining factor for piquing user interest.

CastleberryElison
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The Future of Local Search

It is hard to be certain what changes or updates will be made in the future, but it’s important to always be prepared. Will Google slowly roll out the Local Carousel to other categories, such as attorneys? We aren’t quite sure, but we are adjusting our local search strategy in case it does. Will the local carousel extend to mobile search results, where the local results predominantly show before the organic results? If so, it will be crucial to gain local placement. Here at The Search Engine Guys, we begin researching updates as soon as they are announced and discuss what potential changes could happen in the future in order to be better prepared. We are anxiously waiting to see what Google will do next.

Shea Benedict  July 1st, 2013 – Posted by to Google.

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