URLs & SEO: What’s the Relationship?

Excerpts from my latest article at NBC 5 Chicago’s Inc. Well blog: “How URLs Impact SEO.”

apple mapsIf networks of links are the road map that search engines use to crawl the web, URLs are the street names that give that map meaning and consistency. As such, URLs affect search engine optimization in a couple of important ways: relevance and consistency.

Relevance is what most people think of when they think about URLs and SEO. Keyword relevance in URLs is like the street names that give maps their meaning. Using relevant keywords in URLs passes a keyword signal that search engine algorithms can use to boost your rankings slightly.

Optimal URLs will also be as short as possible, however. It’s important to balance keyword use with length for two reasons….

Read the article in full at Inc. Well » “How URLs Impact SEO.”


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Originally posted on Web PieRat.

What to Expect from an SEO Audit

Excerpts from my latest article at Practical eCommerce: “SEO Audits: What to Expect.”

checklistOne of the challenges that plagues the search marketing industry is a lack of standards around the quality and scope of work. Different agencies and consultants will use similar words to describe very different deliverables and processes. One of the most abused of these is the SEO Audit.

Clients have told me bitter tales of ghosts of “audits” past that didn’t live up to expectations, like the big-brand shoe retailer that paid $10,000 over three months’ time for a two-page Word document containing weak, tactical recommendations. I thought my client was exaggerating for effect until he emailed me the product.

To protect their investment, businesses need to understand what to expect from an SEO audit and which questions to ask to ensure they’ll receive the quality and scope required.

An audit commonly begins a search marketing engagement with a client. The goal is to identify the challenges and opportunities the client’s sites have for improving their SEO performance to drive more brand impressions, visits and conversions. The input is a client’s web analytics, access to search tools like Webmaster Tools or SEOmoz, the client’s own site and the search results themselves. When combined with SEO knowledge and experience, the SEO professional has what he or she needs to analyze the site and document a strategy to improve organic search performance….

Read the article in full at Practical Ecommerce » “SEO Audits: What to Expect.”


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Originally posted on Web PieRat.

Sometimes You Can’t Fight the Rankings

Excerpts from my latest article at NBC 5 Chicago’s Inc. Well blog: “Why You Can’t Fight Search-Engine Results.”

dart2Searchers ultimately control what a search phrase “means” and what types of content are relevant for a search query. A business selling furniture pads might be 100 percent certain that they sell “protective pads,” and therefore have the right to rank highly for searches for “protective pads.” But they’d be wrong.

A quick search in Google shows that nine out of 10 of the results for “protective pads” actually refer to sporting goods like knee pads for skaters. For a bit of diversity, one listing for incontinence pads also shows up on page one. At the bottom, the “searches related to protective pads” section displays some suggests for furniture-related queries. Google doesn’t consider any sites featuring furniture pads highly relevant to search queries for “protective pads.”

So, if you sell furniture pads, do you want to hang your SEO hopes on the phrases you think you should rank for, like “protective pads?” Probably not, and here’s why….

Read the article in full at Inc. Well » “Why You Can’t Fight Search-Engine Results.”


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Originally posted on Web PieRat.

How Information Architecture Impacts SEO

Excerpts from my latest article at Practical eCommerce: “SEO: Impact of Ecommerce Catalog Structure.”

catalog-bigInformation architecture and search engine optimization are both critical aspects of developing an ecommerce site. During the process, early decisions made about the structure of a site and its product catalog can have surprising ramifications for SEO.

Which product types and attributes are assigned as categories, subcategories, and filters within the catalog impact much more than user experience. They also impact which pages the ecommerce platform will generate and how they’re interconnected in the navigation, both of which impact SEO.

Let’s use a hair care products site as an example. Say we’re selling shampoo, conditioner, and styling products for men, women, and children. Our products are tailored to normal, dry, oily, and chemically treated hair and offer an array of benefits like curl and shine. Two ways of organizing the product catalog begin with categorizing products by product type or by gender/age….

Read the article in full with helpful diagrams at Practical Ecommerce » “SEO: Impact of Ecommerce Catalog Structure.”


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Originally posted on Web PieRat.