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Monthly Archives: August 2011

How To Become a Thought Leader In 13 Steps by @betablox

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By Weston Bergmann

Mark my words: Thought leadership will be one of the most important elements to entrepreneurship and career development in the coming years. It essence, it falls under the umbrella of personal branding, but it’s so much more than that. Thought leadership greases the wheels to some of the most difficult to accomplish entrepreneurial feats. It leads to better SEO, more organic incoming links, easier purchase decisions from customers, momentum for your brand, and the list goes on. Why doesn’t everyone respond to my requests for meetings? Why are journalists not responding to my calls? Why can’t I land the big […]

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Rank Higher with On-page Topic Targeting (Illustrated)

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By Cyrus-Shepard

Posted by Cyrus-Shepard

Topic n. A subject or theme of a webpage, section, or site.

Several SEOs have recently written about topic modeling and advanced on-page optimization. A few of note:

The concepts themselves are dizzying: LDA, co-occurrence, and entity salience, to name only a few. The question is
“How can I easily incorporate these techniques into my content for higher rankings?”

In fact, you can create optimized pages without understanding complex algorithms. Sites like Wikipedia, IMDB, and Amazon create highly optimized, topic-focused pages almost by default. Utilizing these best practices works exactly the same when you’re creating your own content.

The purpose of this post is to provide a simple
framework for on-page topic targeting in a way that makes optimizing easy and scalable while producing richer content for your audience.

1. Keywords and relationships

No matter what topic modeling technique you choose, all rely on discovering
relationships between words and phrases. As content creators, how we organize words on a page greatly influences how search engines determine the on-page topics.

When we use keywords phrases, search engines hunt for other phrases and concepts that
relate to one another. So our first job is to expand our keywords research to incorporate these related phrases and concepts. Contextually rich content includes:

  • Close variants and synonyms: Includes abbreviations, plurals, and phrases that mean the same thing.
  • Primary related keywords: Words and phrases that relate to the main keyword phrase.
  • Secondary related keywords: Words and phrases that relate to the primary related keywords.
  • Entity relationships: Concept that describe the properties and relationships between people, places, and things.

A good keyword phrase or entity is one that
predicts the presence of other phrases and entities on the page. For example, a page about “The White House” predicts other phrases like “president,” “Washington,” and “Secret Service.” Incorporating these related phrases may help strengthen the topicality of “White House.”

2. Position, frequency, and distance

How a page is organized can greatly influence how concepts relate to each other.

Once search engines find your keywords on a page, they need to determine which ones are most
important, and which ones actually have the strongest relationships to one another.

Three primary techniques for communicating this include:

  • Position: Keywords placed in important areas like titles, headlines, and higher up in the main body text may carry the most weight.
  • Frequency: Using techniques like TF-IDF, search engines determine important phrases by calculating how often they appear in a document compared to a normal distribution.
  • Distance: Words and phrases that relate to each other are often found close together, or grouped by HTML elements. This means leveraging semantic distance to place related concepts close to one another using paragraphs, lists, and content sectioning.

A great way to organize your on-page content is to employ your primary and secondary related keywords in support of your focus keyword. Each primary related phrase becomes its own subsection, with the secondary related phrases supporting the primary, as illustrated here.

Keyword Position, Frequency and Distance

As an example, the primary keyword phrase of this page is ‘On-page Topic Targeting‘. Supporting topics include: keywords and relationships, on-page optimization, links, entities, and keyword tools. Each related phrase supports the primary topic, and each becomes its own subsection.

3. Links and supplemental content

Many webmasters overlook the importance of linking as a topic signal.

Several well-known Google
search patents and early research papers describe analyzing a page’s links as a way to determine topic relevancy. These include both internal links to your own pages and external links to other sites, often with relevant anchor text.

Google’s own
Quality Rater Guidelines cites the value external references to other sites. It also describes a page’s supplemental content, which can includes internal links to other sections of your site, as a valuable resource.

Links and Supplemental Content

If you need an example of how relevant linking can help your SEO,
The New York Times
famously saw success, and an increase in traffic, when it started linking out to other sites from its topic pages.

Although this guide discusses
on-page topic optimization, topical external links with relevant anchor text can greatly influence how search engines determine what a page is about. These external signals often carry more weight than on-page cues, but it almost always works best when on-page and off-page signals are in alignment.

4. Entities and semantic markup

Google extracts entities from your webpage automatically,
without any effort on your part. These are people, places and things that have distinct properties and relationships with each other.

• Christopher Nolan (entity, person) stands 5’4″ (property, height) and directed Interstellar (entity, movie)

Even though entity extraction happens automatically, it’s often essential to mark up your content with
Schema for specific supported entities such as business information, reviews, and products. While the ranking benefit of adding Schema isn’t 100% clear, structured data has the advantage of enhanced search results.

Entities and Schema

For a solid guide in implementing markup, see Builtvisible’s excellent
guide to rich snippets.

5. Crafting the on-page framework

You don’t need to be a search genius or spend hours on complex research to produce high quality, topic optimized content. The beauty of this framework is that it can be used by anyone, from librarians to hobby bloggers to small business owners; even when they aren’t search engine experts.

A good webpage has much in common with a high quality university paper. This includes:

  1. A strong title that communicates the topic
  2. Introductory opening that lays out what the page is about
  3. Content organized into thematic subsections
  4. Exploration of multiple aspects of the topic and answers related questions
  5. Provision of additional resources and external citations

Your webpage doesn’t need to be academic, stuffy, or boring. Some of the most interesting pages on the Internet employ these same techniques while remaining dynamic and entertaining.

Keep in mind that ‘best practices’ don’t apply to every situation, and as
Rand Fishkin says “There’s no such thing as ‘perfectly optimized’ or ‘perfect on-page SEO.'” Pulling everything together looks something like this:

On-page Topic Targeting for SEO

This graphic is highly inspired by Rand Fishkin’s great
Visual Guide to Keyword Targeting and On-Page SEO. This guide doesn’t replace that canonical resource. Instead, it should be considered a supplement to it.

5 alternative tools for related keyword and entity research

For the search professional, there are dozens of tools available for thematic keyword and entity research. This list is not exhaustive by any means, but contains many useful favorites.

Alchemy API

One of the few tools on the market that delivers entity extraction, concept targeting and linked data analysis. This is a great platform for understanding how a modern search engine views your webpage.

SEO Review Tools

The SEO Keyword Suggestion Tools was actually designed to return both primary and secondary related keywords, as well as options for synonyms and country targeting.


The LSIKeyword tool performs Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) on the top pages returned by Google for any given keyword phrase. The tool can go down from time to time, but it’s a great one to bookmark.

Social Mention

Quick and easy, enter any keyword phrase and then check “Top Keywords” to see what words appear most with your primary phrase across the of the platforms that Social Mention monitors.

Google Trends

Google trends is a powerful related research tool, if you know how to use it. The secret is downloading your results to a CSV (under settings) to get a list up to 50 related keywords per search term.

What are your best tips for creating semantically rich, topic focused content? Let us know in the comments below.

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SEO 101: What is Semantic Search and Why Should I Care? by @sergio_redondo

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By Sergio Redondo

Search is changing. David Amerland begins with this sentence in the foreword of his book Google Semantic Search. If you are a long time user of the Internet and, more specifically, the search engines, you can see how the way we look for information has changed over the past few years. We are at a moment in which semantic search, the ability to put typed searches into context, represents the most accurate option for granting answers. However, before we delve into this new type of search is appropriate to stop and ask the question: What has motivated our change when searching […]

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Twitter Updates: Improvements To Managing Blocked Accounts, Reporting Harassment, And Adding Filters To Photos by @mattsouthern

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By Matt Southern

Twitter announced several updates to its service today that will all be appreciated for entirely different reasons. One update aims to protect users from abuse, the other relates to blocking accounts, and finally Twitter had made itself more Instagram-like when it comes to adding filters to photos. Making It Easier To Report Harassment Twitter wants to make its social network safer by making it easier for users to report abuse and harassment. Now users can report abusive content and flag accounts for review on their mobile device. The changes also extend to people who witness abuse happening on Twitter but […]

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SearchCap: Google Penguin Vibrations, Right To Be Forgotten Rules & Santa Tracker

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By Barry Schwartz

Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web.

From Search Engine Land:

  • Google: Penguin 3.0 Rollout Still Ongoing
    Google has confirmed with us that the shifts and changes reported throughout the industry on Thanksgiving day were a result of the Penguin 3.0 refresh that first began rolling out 6-weeks ago. Google told us in response to what we saw on Thanksgiving day, “the Penguin rollout is ongoing, and this is just the effect […]
  • Bing Has Seen Tiny Number Of “Right to Be Forgotten” Requests So Far
    Reputation VIP, which operates the website in Europe, has said that Microsoft/Bing is starting to implement “Right to Be Forgotten” (RTBF) requests. The company released a study of RTBF requests and Google in October, which was generally consistent with Google’s own subsequently released data. said initially that 60 percent of RTBF requests to Google were being denied. Google itself reported 58 percent. […]
  • 3 Things You Can Do To Push Through Your PPC Plateau
    Online advertisers are in it for the long haul, and like any long-term relationship, it takes work to succeed. If you’ve been working on a PPC account for a long time, you’ve been through the ups and downs together. You know what works and what doesn’t. You “get” the business, and you know just how […]
  • The Post-Google Local Survival Guide
    Ask any local SEO worth their salt, and they will tell you that the Pigeon algorithm update has been a kind of big shift in local search results. Traditionally, when an algorithm update causes a major shift in the SERPs, SEOs adjust their strategy and tactics accordingly. Consider this: we had a single location client that […]
  • DuckDuckGo Now Shows New Jersey Transit Schedules
    You can now search DuckDuckGo for New Jersey Transit schedules. This was announced quietly on Twitter via @duckduckhack. For example, a search for [next train from secaucus to suffern] displays several options via NJ Transit: Here is the tweet from DuckDuckGo: You can search the New Jersey Transit schedule on @duckduckgo thanks to @mattr555 […]
  • Oh No They Didn’t: European Parliament Calls For Break Up Of Google
    Today, many Americans were busy preparing Thanksgiving meals or getting ready to travel to the homes of friends and family to celebrate the holiday. But Google certainly won’t be giving thanks for the European Parliament’s vote in favor of a resolution to “unbundle” Google’s search engine from the rest of its business. The widely anticipated, non-binding vote calls upon […]
  • Thanksgiving Day Google Logo Serves Up An Animated Turkey For The Holiday
    To celebrate today’s holiday, Google’s homepage includes an animated Thanksgiving Day turkey with sharing icons to post the bouncing turkey on your social pages. Along with the illustrated bird, is a link answering the question “What is tryptophan?” to clarify why it’s so difficult to stay awake after ingesting large quantities of turkey. The backdrop […]
  • Is Your 2015 Integrated Digital Marketing Plan Complete?
    The new year is just around the corner and progressive brands are analyzing and prioritizing digital integration in their 2015 plans. In this Digital Marketing Depot webcast, Mike Corak, Executive Vice President of Strategy at ethology, and David Robidoux, Vice President of Marketing at Franchise Services Corporation, will share the key considerations to keep top […]
  • Google’s Santa Tracker Is Up & Counting Down Days Until Santa’s Annual Sleigh Ride Around The Globe
    Now that we have Thanksgiving out of the way, it’s time to start tracking Santa’s whereabouts. To make it easy, Google launched its Santa Tracker today, reminding us there are less than 23 days before Santa makes his annual trip around the globe. This year’s Google Santa Tracker website will include daily elf games, along […]
  • Share the Experience: Send Your Team to SMX West… and Save Up to 35%
    Give your marketing team the learning and tools they need for a successful and profitable 2015. SMX West provides must-have tactics on SEO, paid search, mobile marketing and more. With 60 sessions to choose from, your team members can select presentations based upon their responsibilities, skill-level and the needs of your organization. Get your new […]
  • EU Issues “Right To Be Forgotten” Criteria
    Last week the EU issued formal guidelines surrounding the so-called “Right to Be Forgotten” (RTBF). They are intended to help privacy regulators and search engines implement the RTBF. And they include some controversial elements. I’ve embedded the full document below and won’t try and treat it comprehensively. Below are the formal considerations that the EU […]
  • Bing’s Top Searches In 2014: Kim Kardashian No. 1 Most Searched Celebrity
    If you were searching for a celebrity on Bing this year, there’s a good chance you were looking for Kim Kardashian. Using data from Bing Trends, the site released its most popular searches of 2014, listing everything from top celebrity, athlete and news story searches to the Top Ten ice bucket challenges, and vacation destination […]

Recent Headlines From Marketing Land, Our Sister Site Dedicated To Internet Marketing:

Search News From Around The Web:

Local & Maps

Link Building


SEM / Paid Search

Search Marketing

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Bing Mobile Ranking Techniques & Relevancy Factors

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By Barry Schwartz

Mir Rosenberg from the Bing Mobile Relevancy team posted some of the “factors at play” when it comes to how determines mobile relevance and ranking in the mobile results.

As you know, a couple weeks ago, Bing announced new mobile crawlers to help them discover and understand different forms of mobile content.

Now, Bing is explaining how they determine which mobile sites are relevant for specific queries on top of all of their other relevancy factors. The specific mobile factors Bing shared. Those factors include:

  • Identify and classify mobile and device-friendly web pages and websites
  • Analyze web documents from a mobile point-of-view by looking at:
    • Content compatibility
    • Content readability
    • Mobile functionality (to weed out “junk”, that is pages that are 404 on mobile or Flash only etc.)
  • Return more mobile-friendly URLs to the mobile SERP
  • Ranking the results pages based on all of the above

Bing once again strongly recommends Webmasters take the responsive design approach, this way Bing only has one URL, one piece of content, to try to manage. But Bing is actively improving how they handle other forms of mobile content, such as adaptive design, m-dot content and other forms.

You can learn more about the challenges for Bing’s crawlers and algorithms around mobile on their blog post.

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4 Reasons Why Amazon and Facebook Are Gaining on Google by @hubshout11

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By Ellen Gipko

In 1998, PC Magazine wrote: “Google! is a Stanford University project designed to find the most relevant Web pages (those with the most inbound links) and run searches against them. The 25 million pages currently catalogued seem to be good choices; the site has an uncanny knack for returning extremely relevant results.” Note the exclamation mark in that 1998-99 version of Google’s logo, which some say was added to mimic Yahoo’s logo. Yahoo had already been around for about four years when Google launched in 1998. At the time, Yahoo was the one to beat. Google beat Yahoo and everyone […]

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Why SEO Still (And Always) Matters by @jeanmariedion

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By Jean Dion

Even though blogging is one of the best ways to boost an online reputation and increase market share at the same time, now is an incredibly hard time to be a blogger. There is just too much information out there. Get this: While 81 percent of consumers trust information they read in blogs, there are some 6.7 million people blogging, according to stats compiled by Social4Retail. Readers want the data, but there’s just too much of it out there. They are simply drowning in content. So it’s no wonder that people are becoming cynical about the whole business of blogging. […]

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Expect Further Rankings Fluctuations As Penguin 3.0 Continues To Roll Out, Perhaps Indefinitely by @mattsouthern

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By Matt Southern

There has been much discussion about Penguin 3.0 over the past several days, as site owners have reported fluctuations in rankings that are believed to be a result of Google’s recent algorithm update. The majority of the discussion revolves around site owners reporting recoveries from previous Penguin updates, which is nice to see, but others may not be so fortunate. These kinds of fluctuations are to be expected as Google’s John Mueller publicly stated last month that the Penguin 3.0 rollout was still ongoing, and did not give any indication as to when it might be completed. With that being […]

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