Kate Morris

Otherwise know as @katemorris.com by friends.

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Letting the Dogs Out: Image Search

Just making it known, I am testing something but if you’re up for an inspired post regardless, read on.

I have spent the last year working with an image powerhouse. The power of images is great, an untapped source of traffic for sure. I am a search marketer that is all about the conversion, but if all you want it traffic, images are just awesome and long tail. What’s just so sharable? Images. Why do you think we take data and make it pretty (ala infographics)? People love images. The most recent, not sure if it’s really the brain child of Paula Holmes Crimm, but maybe.

It Was Me. I Let The Dogs Out

Shared almost 2k times as of 5:12pm CDT

Really. How freaking cute. He/She let the dogs out. Took claim for the apparent mess it caused. You just want to kiss that puppy and the share it with all of your friends. I saw it this morning, reshared it, and 5 of my friends have done the same and not all from me.

Now the image search for this image. I figured “I let the dogs out” would do it.

Let the Dogs Out Image Search

Alas no. I may be wrong in the search or it might just not have been shared outside of FB yet. Therefore, Google hasn’t seen it. So I’m posting it. With good alt text and image name. Let’s see what happens and if I can get some traffic from it. </SEO>

Take Away for Search Marketers and Businesses

This small picture is being shared. There is no commerce behind it, no linking scheme, just an image. So I want to impart something I have seen as I’ve developed client infographics and link bait, don’t make it about you. Make it about users, your target market, the everyday user, the facebook user, whoever you want to see and share your content. Make it about them and they will share it. This does not have a 100% success rate (meaning making “viral linkbait” is still not possible to just create) but it does help get to the heart of the user and that might transfer down to the tip of their “share” finger.

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17 Day Diet for SEOs

17 Day DietThere is a lot of buzz around the 17 Day Diet, a new fad where you change your eating habits every 17 days, for four rounds. I am not a fan of fad diets — been there, done that — but I do think there is a application to online marketing here. Many SEOs focus just on a few things, but it might be worth it to go on an SEO diet to where you change your tactics every 17 days.

I’ll outline a plan below but you can edit it as you please. The goal here is to change things up and get a more holistic approach to SEO. The more you change up your tactics, the more natural things can appear. So, without further adieu:

Round 1: Outreach and Guest Posting

Use the guest post search tips from my coworker Geoff Kenyon, and find bloggers in your space that allow guest posts. It’s fairly easy to do and a fantastic way to get links. This is the first step to building relationships as well, and those will come in handy later. Start by drafting a few posts and then working on contacting bloggers at the same time. By the end of your 17 days you should have a few posts live and maybe a few more ready to go live.

Round 2: Title Tag Research

After the outreach, head back to the foundation of SEO. Look at your site’s title tags. Depending on the size of your site, you can determine how in depth to go. First, address any duplicate titles you have. All of them. If you are running a site with millions of pages and 100,000 duplicate page titles, find an automated way of differentiating them. Trust me, it’s doable.

If you are good on duplicate title tags, move to identifying your top pages. Are there any missing? Why isn’t one of your top categories on there? Find the pages that should have top traffic and look at the title tag. If you only have a few static pages on your site, investigate them all. Do standard keyword research and make sure you are targeting the right key phrase to get the best traffic.

Round 3: Be the Resource

Remember those relationships you built with guest posting? Time to recontact those people. Hopefully their sites got all kinds of traffic from your content (you helped pushed those posts socially of course) and now they are emailing you for more! This time, get them to share their knowledge. Since they are in your space, their minds should be ripe with information your customers want to hear as well. Turn your blog into a resource by having top minds guest post for you and post some great information yourself. Be the resource and you will be.

Round 4: Think Social

So many of these rounds are social in that they are building relationships, but this last one, I want you to focus on being social on the big networks like Twitter and Facebook. If you have to choose one, go for Facebook. Reach out to your friends, get your 25 fans for your business page and claim your URL. If you can’t find friends to like you, buy an ad. I did that for a friend, took me 2 weeks with ads and $100. Done. But really do focus less on the friends and more on the conversation (it is a chicken/egg thing – you need fans first). Get out there and get people talking about you. SEO is marketing … the more people are talking about you, the more mentions and links you get.

And add Facebook comments to that awesome new blog.

Rinse and Repeat

So not like the diet, keep changing it up. There is no end to SEO. A #1 is not guaranteed in any market, so you should always be pushing to get more traffic and selling more. The only way to do that is to continually grow and reach out to more people. Hope you like the new 17 Day Diet.

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SEO for the world – thinking beyond English

Guest Post from Lingo24

The growth of the internet means it’s never been easier to reach a truly global market. Your products or services are now accessible to anyone with internet access from Birmingham to Beijing but just because the potential for reaching a new audience exists, that doesn’t mean the connection will be made without properly localizing your approach for your multilingual market.

Geographical barriers might not mean as much these days, but linguistic and cultural barriers remain. English is still the single most widely used language online, according to Internet World Stats, but it’s the native language of only 22% of web surfers. Consider also research showing that the majority of multilingual internet users place more trust in websites written in their own native language, and it’s apparent that a multilingual approach to online marketing is essential.

Targeting your market

The first thing you have to decide is whether to target markets by geography or by language. It may well be cheaper and easier to target several territories that share a common language – for instance, Spanish will provide accessibility to users in Spain (naturally) as well as vast swathes of South America, while French will provide inroads within France, Switzerland, Belgium, parts of Canada and former French or Belgian colonies such as Senegal and Gabon.

You should bear in mind, however, that linguistic usage can vary tremendously from one area to the next. Just as the English spoken in England, India and Australia varies in vocabulary and especially colloquialisms, so does the Spanish spoken in Spain and Latin America, and the French spoken in France and Quebec.

If targeting by language, you should ensure that all content is understandable across the board and avoid any culture-specific references and jokes that might not translate. Targeting individual markets by country will help you avoid losing your message in translation – and it also opens up a number of marketing and SEO options.

Country code domains

The algorithms used by Google and other search engines take location into account, so investing in a separate country code top level domain (such as .de for Germany or .fr for France) hosted in the target country for each localized version of your website will considerably boost your rankings on Google other local competitors.

If you decide to have a single top level domain (such as www.example.com) you should at least set up separate subdomains or subdirectories for each localized version of your site. An example of a subdomain would be de.example.com and a subdirectory would be example.com/de/.

Google’s Webmaster Central blog advises that you keep your multilingual content separate – don’t mix languages on one page – to avoid confusing Googlebot. [Editors note: This is not true in all cases. You could technically have a Canadian site and have French and English user generated content on the same page.]

Handily, the same content in different languages is not considered duplicate content for listing and ranking purposes – and Google also has a Geographic Targeting tool in Webmaster Tools that allows you to specify particular geographic targets for different subdirectories or subdomains – so your Indian subdomain, for instance, can have its location set as ‘India’, and it will be turn up in the results when web surfers in India search for your keywords.

Keyword research

There are several ways to translate your content. The most effective is to employ the services of a native speaking translator, but if your budget does not stretch that far, then you could also use machine translation for content which is not business critical.

Regardless of whether you opt for machine translation or a professional to translate your website content, though, you should never rely on a straight machine or dictionary translation of your keywords.

This is because synonyms, colloquialisms, abbreviations or alternative terms may be the more popular keywords in any language. By all means use the direct translations of your English keywords as a starting point, but be sure to thoroughly research the alternatives in each target market. This may involve a brainstorming session with a native speaker from that country, and should definitely involve using Google’s keyword tools to check what results each keyword yields in that market.

Either way, multilingual SEO is an ongoing process of researching and refining, just the same as English language SEO, but if you’re willing to invest the time and money in expanding your market with localized multilingual websites, then the rewards can be beyond your wildest dreams!

About the author

Christian Arno is the founder and Managing Director of global translation and localization agency Lingo24. Launched in 2001, Lingo24 now has over 4000 specialist translators worldwide, operations spanning four continents and clients in over sixty countries.

Contact Lingo24 with a translation request mentioning www.katemorris.com before 30 October 2010 and you’ll receive a 10% discount on your first order.

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Building a Proper SEO House

First, Happy 4th of July to all my US readers.

There are many people talking about the death of SEO. Yeah, I know, you are contemplating closing this post. Stay with me. Well, if you are a seasoned search marketing veteran, you are free to go. There is nothing here that is going to be earth shattering. But I have seen too much recently to not say something.

SEO is not going anywhere but it has changed. Long gone are the days of “tricks” and “secrets.” SEO is moving towards (and about time IMHO) being a staple of every company’s IT and Marketing schedule. But we are not there yet. I can’t research a local company or do a competitive analysis without coming across a handful of sites that are missing the basics. The larger companies are getting there, but again, not there yet. This is what should happen though, SEO is a part of marketing and web development and should take its rightful place.

But there are no secrets. Can you still pick up some good ideas from the minds at conferences and get togethers? Yes! But know that you might be one of those minds. How? It’s the experiences that make good ideas. Conference organizers constantly try to blend new speakers/new perspectives with seasoned veterans. But what is said there is not hard and fast truth. Any of them will tell you that your site is unique. It’s about the idea they are presenting that spurs the idea for your site.

The questions I’ve seen arise recently have been just like those from 2005. Site developers and first time website owners want to know how to get their site to #1 right now. They want to know why other “less desirable” or “less worthy” sites are outranking their beautiful creation. The answer is always the same.

  1. Build your site well. It needs to be clean, understandable, and navigable. Page load times and text based content are things to notice.
  2. Content needs to be focused to the user. Don’t stuff. Don’t over optimize. Build pages for different users and make it something they want to read. Users via email are different than those from PPC ads. And the users from organic SERPs are different too. All users are not created equal.
  3. Content needs to engage and entice. Not only to convert (which is the first focus) but also to share. In this world of linking, the best way to go about links isn’t easy. The best links are from real people. You will get them by marketing and customer service. PR is a good road too, remember that one? Journalists are your friend.
  4. If you are building links by paying someone in India, stop.
  5. Be patient. Yes, the engines will pick up content almost instantaneously in some cases but not all. If you spotted a problem recently and changed it, give the bots time to find, fix and propagate.

Build your foundation (good clean code), set your framework (navigation and structure), insulate (link build), pick the right colors (content), and then market. The most beautiful well built house will never be found if no one talks about it.

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Tagging Adult-ish Pictures

For the most part, when I come across an issue on a site, I just search for the solution and someone has previously identified the solution. Last week I came across a problem that I didn’t know how to deal with and neither did anyone else.

Issue: In optimizing a client’s website, I came across some images that might seem unsuitable for children. Not vulgar or crude, and were there in a health care sense, but were still not suitable for children.

I wanted to find a tag that I could place in the image or on the page that would let the search engines, especially the adult filters of the images side, that the images were not suitable from the get go. The client had noted it on their site as well, but on the entry page, not on every page that the images appeared.

Short version: There were no tags that I could find, and no one knew the answer. So I emailed a friend of mine … Matt Cutts (no, I am NOT giving anyone his email address). See Matt, for those of you that don’t know, is one of the minds behind SafeSearch and is now the Head of the Web Spam team at Google. Who better to ask right?

Turns out there are meta tags that can be affixed to the page with ratings that are much like movie ratings. These ratings work with browser filters to ensure that kids do not see specific content on the web. Reading between the lines, I am thinking that this might also be a way to signal to the SEs that there are things on that page that should be behind the SafeSearch wall.

How to Tag Adult Content

The best resource for adult rating that Matt pointed me to had examples of how to use all the rating systems. Major downside: this means 4 additional meta tags on my page. This area of the world has not been condensed, so there are many way to rate pages. For my client, I added them all. Better safe than sorry in my opinion.

I won’t go over every one, but basically for most of them you place specific codes within the meta tag that let bots and browsers know exactly what type of content is on that page that might not be suitable. In my client’s instance, it was partial nudity on a woman that was health care based.

It might have taken some time and a little more work, but I know that parents and search engines will like that my client is trying to help protect children on the web. I just hope that the various organizations can come together on ONE rating system someday, but that might be as possible as all of the browsers rendering the same way (stupid IE …).

UPDATE: I had a question (PRO Membership Required) the other day in the SEOmoz Q&A that gave me another thought about how to use the adult content tagging. If your images have ever been placed behind the SafeSearch filter, and you think it isn’t warranted, you might TRY (read: hasn’t been tested) placing these meta tags on the page where the image is hosted, and use the tags for safe for children. Don’t use this to get around the filters, I don’t think that will work. If hand checked, and the images are in fact NOT kosher, you might get removed/banned. No bueno here people. Karma, remember karma. If you don’t want your kids, your nieces/nephews, or godchildren looking at those images, then other kids shouldn’t either.