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4 5 SEO Action Steps You Can Take Today

In a recent blog post I wrote about the new realities of SEO. For the most part that post revealed how the shifting form of search into a less content and more context driven world requires site owners and SEO professionals to think differently about how they approach search engine optimization.

Today I want to cover a couple tactics you can quickly employ that should help in each of the areas I addressed in the new realities post.

My goal for this post is to provide you with some action items to check off your list this week – as in right now!

Below are my five favorite SEO action steps you can take today.

Up the +1 and Like

Lots of people use WordPress plugins and Facebook content boxes and such to make sharing their blog posts much easier. I’ve used the Sociable and Digg Digg plug ins on and off for years. However, with the emphasis the search engines are placing on social signals, one way to get even more social juice is to add the native Google +1 button and the native Facebook Like or Share button to the main or secondary header sections of every page on your site.

This way you increase the odds of your homepage and other core pages accumulating more and more social signals over time.

+1 and like button

You can grab the code for +1 button here and Facebook button here.

Embed larger images

Okay, this one’s not technically an SEO play, but it may add to better engagement on social networks, which we’ve already agreed is crucial.

A recent Facebook redesign places a great deal more emphasis on images on pages by displaying them fully across a post – if they meet certain size guidelines. The greatly enlarged images make your post stand out on mobile devices as well as laptops and should be something you include in your content.

The new standards call for images that are 600 to 1200 pixels in width in the open graph image associated with your posts.

facebook larger images

Here’s a painless way to embed larger image in blog posts for social networks without doubling up on work on your site.

  • Install WordPress SEO plugin from Yoast (I’ve written about the SEO benefits of this plugin here but it also handles the open graph elements too)
  • Choose the larger image – 560 x 292 is recommended minimum. – I use PhotoPin for many of my images
  • Add the image to your blog post – the SEO plugin tags it on the default og image
  • Open the WordPress image editor found in visual view and reduce the image size to make it fit your post – I use 240 px left justified images in most posts so I can adjust it here.

That’s it, now when you share your incredible blog post on your Facebook page your stunning image will dominate the page. Which of course may mean you need to give some more thought to your image selection. Look for Google+ to mimic this behavior.

Get after the long tail

The term long tail has been around in the search world for many years now and it’s not going away. The more competitive a search category is the more important it is that you create content meant to compete specifically for those less popular, longer phrases that people use every day.

I could go into lots of detail about how your might get started in this arena, but my best advice is to use software called Long Tail Pro. It’s one of the easiest to use and best priced keyword research tools and can help you identify the best opportunities for keyword phrases you can go to work on with the hope of competing effectively.

With the move by Google towards semantic intent I’ll be producing as much content as possible that narrows in on context as well as content. For my kind of business that’s done by getting as specific as possible about addressing intent. I’ve started a question of the week post where I’ll address one very specific bit of information in response to questions that come up often. When someone poses a question in search the intent is often quite clear.

Should I pay for referrals? Is there any reason to add the meta description attribute? Answering questions related to your industry is a great way to get after the long tail.

Add micro data with rich snippets

For this on I’ll get a little more technical. Micro data is a form of HTML property mark-up used specifically by search engines (plural) to help them identify certain kinds of text like addresses, movie titles and product descriptions.

Micro data is crucial for straight ecommerce sites and it’s use will increase over time for just about every type of business.

Adding name, address and phone (NAP) rich snippets to every page, for example, is a solid bit of advice for any local business.

In my realities blog post I wrote about in depth articles becoming more important in search. Google has released a set of micro data properties that specifically addresses in depth articles so there’s a good chance there will be more on this front to come.

You won’t have to look any further than this MOZ study on the kind of content that draws the most links to see the need for more in depth content.

Structured mark up has already entered in many ways. For example breadcrumb mark up produces a more structured appearance of indexed content. (See the example below produced with breadcrumbs enabled in the SEO plugin from Yoast) – this mark up shows up in the HTML on the page to help with navigation and in the way Google indexes and shows the results.

structured mark up

You can add the in depth article micro data plugin to WordPress to avoid learning the specifics of coding with micro data.

And by all means add the Google Authorship markup if you have not – you can find my advice on Google Authorship here.

Want to get overwhelmed by this topic? Visit schema.org to really dig in.

Build authority relationships

Networking for link relationships has taken on a bit of a popularity feel due to Google’s emphasis on authority when it comes to content.

Links from sites that Google ranked highly have always been important, but now individuals inside of Google+ carry a great deal of weight as well.

It’s important to build relationships in your industry with those authors that Google already thinks highly of. I’m not talking about stalking, I’m talking about discovering the most valuable relationships and finding ways to build value within them.

Reverse Google image look up reveals list of places where this author contributes.

Find those authors in your industry that appear with an author box in common searches with your industry and do a Google reverse image look up to find where they contribute content currently.

  • Find an author whose image shows next to highly indexed content
  • Navigate to their Google+ profile, right click their profile image and copy the image URL
  • Paste the image URL into a Google “search by image” box
  • Scan the results to find a great deal about their contributed content landscape
  • Create a plan to build relationships based on value

This way you’ll turn up some great guest post opportunity possibilities for yourself as well as gain some insight into ways you can connect with authors of authority.

So, that should keep your plate full for a few action packed days!

14 Adding the Google +1 Button

As I suspect you’ve heard, Google has formally introduced their entry to the Like and Share button craze with something they have named +1. They’ve been working on this for some time but pushed it live to all last week. (So, perhaps we have yet another verb to all – +1’d)

The difference Google has to offer from the Like or InShare options is the tie to search and that’s where the +1 Button makes it’s obvious difference known.

To get started +1’ing the stuff you like, you’ll need to create a Google profile—or if you already have one, upgrade it. You can use your profile to see all of your +1’s in one place, and delete those you no longer want to recommend. To see +1’s in your Google search results you’ll need to be logged into your Google Account.

Google +1 Search

Now while logged into your Google account as you surf, you will start to see little greyed out +1 buttons offering you the opportunity to +1 any search results you find. This act then turns the greyed button to full color and leaves a trail for your Google contacts. When one of your Google contacts conducts a similar search, he or she will see that you +1’d the link. Word from Google is they will soon let your Twitter and Flickr contacts view your +1’s too.

There is some vagueness in Google’s language about who will actually see your +1s – “And even if none of your friends are baristas or caffeine addicts, we may still show you how many people across the web have +1’d your local coffee shop.”

Even more speculation surrounds how Google will use this new data point. They have said publicly that they will use this to show you more relevant ads on non Google sites based on your +1 activity. You can disable this through your account settings tab by clicking on Edit under +1 settings that appear there now.

Google +1 Account Settings

Another point of speculation is how +1 data might impact Google’s search results. They have been displaying more personalized results based on your network for some time now (try some search logged in and logged out of your account and you’ll likely see different results.) and some believe +1 may become another marker of a site’s popularity and relevance.

As is the case for the Facebook Like button and the LinkedIn InShare button, Google has made it pretty simple to add the +1 button to your content. I’ve added it to this blog as I think giving people the opportunity to +1 the content at the point of interaction will certainly lead to more content getting marked by readers. (The visual highlight of the colored +1 button in search results alone is reason to take this act.)

The video above shows the basics of adding the +1 button, but here are the steps
1) Visit Google +1 button configuartor
2) Choose the size you want to add (I’ve added the Medium to this blog)
Option – Click advanced settings and add the URL of the page you are using the button on
3) Copy the first chunk of code just before the closing body tag of page or template
4) Copy the second chunk of code where you want the button to show up

In the video I also show you how to add the button to a WordPress blog so that it will automatically add the URL based on the permalink of the blog post. – you simply add the href attribute to the second chunk of code, but use the WordPress permalink code for the URL – href="<?php the_permalink(); ?>"

There’s also a WordPress plugin that makes it easy to accomplish this as well.