Implementing Google Authorship

I really want to get a better handle on google’s concept of authorship… As I find it’s always best to learn by trying to implement things, I spent some time this afternoon trying to configure myself as an “official” author within google search results.

google plus updates

The idea is that my profile photo should show up next to search results where I’m an author (similar to what google does for my google plus updates that get indexed):

Here are some of the things I did:

  • I added my Google Plus account to the author section of my company blog posts (You can see an example here: Naughty or Nice), and although I don’t think this was necessary, to be extra safe, I verified my work email
  • I added a link to my google plus account to the sidebar of this blog (I don’t have a “author” section under each post, so hoping this does the trick!). Again, to be safe, I also verified my domain email for my personal blog.
  • I added links from my Google Profile to both my personal and my work blog.
  • I updated my google profile photo make sure it was a clear profile picture
  • I updated my name on both blogs to make sure it matched my Google Profile exactly
  • Made sure to include the text: “?rel=author” to the google plus url string. As in: https://plus.google.com/+DustinLuther/?rel=author

That’s all I know to do at this point.

Now it’s just a waiting game as I check google to see if my “authorship” status starts showing up next to searches like these:

hide the timeline picture from public in facebook - Google Search

how to pick a good twitter name - Google Search

And if I missed something in setting up Google authorship (or I should have configured stuff in a better way), I would love to know!

UPDATE — First signs of success!
After hitting publish on my latest blog post (The Benefits of Relentless Networking), I noticed that my name shows up as an author next to that post for the term “Relentless Networking“! Thinking google still needs to reindex all my “old” posts, but this seems like great progress to me! 🙂
relentless networking

How important is creativity in your SEO campaign?

A few months ago, the Council of Residential Specialists asked if I’d be interested in giving a webinar presentation on SEO.  Of course I was interested (It’s scheduled for tomorrow!) and in putting the presentation together, it forced me to reexamine the state of SEO… and how to really get value out of an SEO campaign.

If I could summarize my point of view it’s that creativity is key to a successful SEO campaign… at least if you want to have any impact whatsoever.

When looking at SEO factors, there are three main levers you can pull… They are to

  • Improve the on-site factors like titles, URLs, keywords, etc.
  • Improve user-interaction factors like bounce rate
  • Improve off-site factors like quality of inbound links and anchor text

If you’re creating interesting content on a decent blog platform like wordpress then you’ve got the first two areas because there’s only so much that can be done on your site to improve your SEO…  and you’re more likely to end up spinning your wheels than get real benefits if you spend too much time there.

The real SEO benefits come from improving off-site factors like inbound links to your site… (Honestly, I’ve been saying this for years, and it’s one thing that never has and likely never will change in terms of SEO value!).   One way to understand this better is that without quality inbound links, a site will never rank.  However, a site with a horrible on-site SEO (title, URL structure, bad use of keywords, etc.) can rank just fine if it’s got enough quality inbound links!

So anyway, the point I really want to make in the presentation is there are some proven strategies for generating lots of quality inbound links… and ALL of them involve a bit of creativity and some time.   If this is a topic you’re interested in, consider joining us tomorrow when I’ll dive deep into using social networks, social bookmarketing, social news and social group sites to generate great inbound links.

Other resources you might find interesting/helpful:

Also, if you know of any other great SEO resources, let me know so I  can share them with others!

Talking Real Estate SEO with Aaron Majors

I’m working out of Portland this week in prep for the BuzzRE PDX event tomorrow (which is gonna rock thanks to an awesome speaker lineup!)… and the talk of the M Office is Aaron Majors’ success (and enthusiasm) for the SEO work he’s been doing on his Portland Homes site.

Here’s the interview I just posted to Facebook where he talks about the strategies he’s been using to rank for all kinds of terms related to distress properties (foreclosures, auctions,etc.):

With Promoted Posts, Facebook is Targeting Google’s Adwords

After writing my last post on why I think the ability to promote posts on Facebook is going to be huge, I realized I didn’t capture the “why” very well…  We already know that Facebook recently passed google.com in terms of raw traffic, and yet the industry around turning that traffic into real business is still in the infant stages…   So, here’s my attempt to summarize where things currently stand between Facebook and Google:

Here’s how to think about this table:

  • Google is best used to target search traffic, while Facebook is best used to target friends of existing fans.
  • Google’s algorithms are optimized to figure out what you’re going to like (or click on) based on what other web searches are clicking on… and the industry around that is called SEO. Facebook’s algorithms are optimized to figure out what you’re going to like (or click on) based on what your friends are click on (I’m calling this NEO).
  • You can use Google’s Adwords to buy targeted search traffic, which is relevant because you can surmise someone’s interest (or intent) based on the keywords they entered into Google’s search box.   You can use Facebook’s Ads to buy targeted traffic, which you can make relevant by buying terms that are related to your business page.
  • With Google, the most effective strategy for increasing the relevance of your website is to generate backlinks from other relevant and quality sites. With Facebook, the most effective strategy for increasing the relevance of your business page is to generate quality engagement from your existing fan base
  • With Google, you can increase your relevance by sending paid traffic to more relevant pages on your site (i.e. not your homepage) that are likely to convert at higher rates.  With Facebook, you can now send relevant people (i.e. friends of fans) to posts that are likely to convert at higher rates and having higher levels of engagement.

In web traffic, it’s all about relevance and Promoted Posts are Facebook’s way of letting your pay to improve the relevance of any given status update by sending more (and hopefully relevant) traffic to the update!

You’re probably paying too much for Google Ads!

Realtors: Have you ever had a call from a random sales guy that goes something like this?

Sales guy: “Hello, you already know how important it is to be at the top of google search results for “[your city] real estate”. Unlike some services that are auction based, I can get you there with for a flat fee of $XYZ [usually $50, $75, or $100].”

I’m pretty sure I already know the answer because when I asked this same question to a group of REALTORS yesterday during a presentation at a WCR event, more than half the hands in the audience of around 200 agents went up.

So here’s the deal… The only way to buy Google Ads (i.e. the ads that show up above the google search results), is through a “pay per click” (or CPC) process where Google charges for each time someone clicks on an ad. At least for ads that show up in search results there is NO way to pay Google a “flat” fee.

In every case I’ve seen of a company charging real estate professionals a flat fee for google ads, it’s ONLY because they know that the ads they are buying are MUCH cheaper than the flat fee they are charging you.   For example, if they know that “[Your City] real estate” is likely to cost them $15/month because they are likely to get 15 clicks that cost them a $1/each, then they might charge a real estate professional a  $50 “flat fee” to buy the ads for you.

In practice, this would mean that you’re paying someone a $35/month “service” fee each month and all they have to do is configure a Google AdWords campaign to run on autopilot.

Even worse (at least in this situation), Google lets the people who manage Google AdWords campaigns set a daily and monthly limit as to what they’ll pay, so the people providing you the service can KNOW they will never exceed the flat fee they are charging you.  When you pay someone a flat fee for your Google Ads, the odds are completely stacked in their favor!

Now, I probably wouldn’t have written this post, except after I mentioned this situation in my presentation I was surprised at the number of agents who came up to me afterwords just to confirm their situation wasn’t the “exception”.  I found no exception, but lots of agents overpaying for their Google Ads…

So, what’s the solution?

Buy your own ads on Google’s self-service backend called Adwords.    It’s really not that hard to set-up an ad campaign and even if you simply bought the same exact ad you’re now paying a flat fee for, you’d likely save  hundreds of dollars a year.   Not only that, when you start buying the ads yourself, you’re likely to be far more selective because Google gives you the tools (and the encouragement) to test out using different campaigns and see which ones are working best for you.

I’ve found that the main factors that determine how successful your AdWords campaign will be are:

  • The price you’re willing to pay per click
  • The keywords you target
  • The text you use on your ad
  • The landing page that you send people to

As I mentioned, if you manage your own ad campaign, google gives you all the tools you need (and many more) to experiment with adjusting all of these factors so you can find the ads that are most cost effective for you.

Wish your site ranked higher in google s…

Wish your site ranked higher in google search results? Wish you knew more about how to make this happen?

Google just released their own SEO report card that grades their own websites on key factors relevant to ranking well in search results. This report highlights the on-site SEO issues that they look at and gives some great insight into how they use these factors within google search results.

If you’re looking for a better understanding of what you can do to improve your on-site SEO, they provide a treasure trove of information… so much so that I copied the SEO Report Card to a google doc so it will load quicker for you’all.

I’m totally missing the buzz… I’ve b…

I’m totally missing the buzz…

I’ve been playing with Google Buzz for a few days now and I know I must be missing something *big* because the ONLY thing I’ve found interesting about it so far is that by connecting with a bunch more people on the google platform, I now get more articles showing up in my Google Reader.

Others talk about how it is vindication that email is the social network, but I’m finding my experience much closer to Fred’s that we can’t assume implicit and explicit social networks are one-and-the-same.

The whole service feels really kludgy and doesn’t pass the would-my-family-use-this-tool test… and if they did, they certainly wouldn’t use it to share personal stories, organize events, upload photos, etc, like they do now. My gut tells me it has potential to be a popular tool among the tech-crowd along the lines of twitter thanks to slick mobile integration, geolocation features, etc., but it’s missing way too many of Facebook’s “connecting” features like photos sharing/tagging, video sharing/tagging, groups, etc., for it to really be a mass-appeal social network.

However, with that said, David Gibbons obviously has a different take. He tweets:

@tyr a) not a walled garden b) nothing cutsie about it c) smart conversation notification d) local integration is AWESOME #whyBUZZisbetter”

and

@tyr it’s far from perfect but they’re iterating at light speed & what really matters is the (sociological) foundation which kicks fb’s butt”

so I’m worried I must be missing something big. Help me out.

How is Google Buzz going to challenge Facebook in any meaningful way?

UPDATE 1

Appropriate to the topic, there has been a decent conversation about this topic on a google buzz thread.

UPDATE 2

Robert Scoble sums up my thoughts well: Why did Google copy FriendFeed’s worst features?

Was doing some searching to see how Lins…

Was doing some searching to see how Linsey might be able to turn on Google Apps Labs on her account, when I came across Google’s URL shortener service specific to hosted domains. It was super easy to install and lets me send links out using any subdomain of 4realz. I choose the subdomain “z” (i.e. http://z.4realz.net) for no particular reason.

The idea being I can create my own URL shortener for any site on my domain. Here’s the link to the app using my service: http://z.4realz.net/oyhwh. It’s pretty darn simple, track clicks and appears to have an API architecture. So far, so good…