About Kalena Jordan

In my day job, I'm Director of Studies and tutor at the online training institution Search Engine College. In my spare time, I'm a search engine agony aunt and SEO to global clients. I've been marketing websites online since 1996 and blogging about search since 2002. To learn more, visit

Q and A: Do I need to use rel=canonical to tell Google my preferred domain?

QuestionHello Kalena

I’ve been a reader of your blog for many years but have never submitted a question. Until now!

With Google’s recent changes to the algorithm, we have noticed a drop in traffic and rankings for our site (we sell ready-made crafting kits for kids). I suspect it might be related to duplicate content as I’ve been reading how Google will penalize sites that can be loaded with www and also without www. Our site loads for both addresses and I’m worried this means we have been penalized.

I also read that you can fix this issue by using coding called rel=canonical or something like that? I have looked into this briefly, but to be honest, although I’m responsible for the content of our site, I’m a sales and marketing person, not a programmer and I don’t think I have the coding knowledge to use this tool.

Is there a more simple way I can remove the duplicate pages or have our site load just with the www? Or will I need to pay our original web designers to fix this?

Thanks for any advice

Sally

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Hello Sally

Sorry to hear of your traffic drop, but I highly doubt it is due to your site loading for both www and non-www versions of your domain. The algorithm changes over the past 18 months have been related to more complex issues than domain versions.

Even if Google has indexed both versions of your domain, the algorithm is almost always able to distinguish content that loads on both as one and the same. In this situation, Google will usually choose one version and consistently show that version in the search results.

But if you want to instruct Google which version to use in the search results, you can do this from within your Webmaster Tools account by setting the Preferred Domain (sometimes this is referred to as the canonical domain). The Preferred Domain tool enables you to tell Google if you’d like URLs from your site crawled and indexed using the www version of the domain (http://www.example.com) or the non-www version of the domain (http://example.com).

Simply click on the gear icon at the top right when viewing your Webmaster Tools dashboard and then choose *Site Settings* and the Preferred Domain option will come up as per the image here:

Setting-Preferred-Domain-Screenshot
The recommended use of rel=canonical is on a page by page basis, to indicate to Google which version of a page URL to use, if there are several URLs leading to the same page content.

For example, imagine if these URLs all led to the same page content:

1) http://www.blog.com/blue-suede-shoes/
2) http://www.blog.com/blue-suede-shoes&id=72
3) http://www.blog.com/?p=12890

Now imagine that you only wanted 1) to be shown in Google search results. You could achieve this by adding the rel=canonical link element to the < head > tag of each of those pages, specifying http://www.blog.com/blue-suede-shoes/ as the preferred URL.

However, in your situation, the easiest thing would be to use the Preferred Domain tool in Webmaster Tools.

Hope this helps!

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Fast Five in Search – Week 35, 2014

fast-five

 

It’s been an interesting couple of weeks in search and social. Some new features have been announced and some old ones switched off, with backlash in tow.

Here’s this week’s Fast Five:

1) Search Marketers Tear Into Google Over AdWords Exact Match Change by Matt McGee. Google have isolated the search marketing community this month, with their announcement that Exact Match keywords will be phased out of AdWords, forcing all advertisers to use close variants. I’ve blogged about this before, when Google first introduced close variants as the default option for match types, but at least then you could opt-out of close variants. Not anymore. I’m not happy and judging by the backlash on social media, neither is the rest of the search community.

2) Google at Work on Kid-Friendly Versions of Its Products by Chris Crum. While we’re talking about Google, some more positive news. The company is apparently working on a new system that would let parents set up accounts for kids under 13 and control how they use services and what information is collected about them.

3) Buying Stuff Within a Tweet is Reportedly Coming to Twitter via Stripe by Mike Butcher. It seems there are businesses that want to sell products from inside tweets. Twitter is reportedly planning to add *Buy Now* buttons within tweets that will make this a reality, by allowing users to enter payment information without leaving Twitter.

4) The Beginners Guide to Establishing Personality and Engagement on a Facebook Page by Jesse Aaron. I really like case studies for how to use social media effectively and this article on Social Fresh contains some goodies. In this post, Jesse Aaron shares 7 neat tactics to use on a business Facebook page to drive engagement and inject some personality into your brand.

and finally…

5) 30+ Advanced Google Search Functions You May Not Have Known About by Craig Smith. This Infographic caught my attention because I like to think I know a lot about Google Advanced Search and I wanted to see how many of the 30 functions I already use. Turns out I knew most of these already, but not *location:* and some of the short-code searches like < tracking number >, < flight number > and so on. Neat!

*Image courtesy of Threadless.

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Q and A: Can you recommend some global keyword research tools?

QuestionHi Kalena

I’d like your advice on keyword research please. I generally use the Google Keyword Tool to research keywords to use in our web site, but these are generally skewed to show just US results.

As the UK, Canada and Australia are also big target markets for us, we need to know what keywords people in each of those countries are searching for.

Can you recommend some global keyword generation tools and also suggest some unique keyword research ideas to help expand our keyword focus?

Thanks in advance

Michael

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Hi Michael

Keyword Research is a tricky business and if you target different geographic markets, you’ll understand why.

The search terms that your customers in the UK enter into search engines are often not the same search terms that your customers in the US use, even when looking for the same product!

So using keyword research tools that can provide search trends for different geographical markets can really help you to develop more effective SEO and other marketing campaigns that will appeal to each of your target markets. It’s fine to use the Google Keyword Planner, but remember that it is primarily designed for AdWords advertisers and shows data related to the advertising platform.

Here are some of the keyword research tools that I use most often and I’ve indicated below which ones provide geo-centric data:

  • Raven Tools  – Raven is always my first stop on the keyword research journey, simply because their Research Central interface combines data from Majestic SEO, Moz, Calais and Google AdWords in one easy to use tool. During the research process, you have the option of drilling down to country-specific data to compare local and global search trends from AdWords and even see what domains are currently your biggest competition for your target keywords.
  • Keyword Discovery  – This tool was built by Trellian, based out of Perth, Western Australia, so their data is definitely international in flavor. The interface is a little clunky to use, but once you get the hang of it, you can generate some impressive country-specific keyword data very quickly and export it in various formats, ready to populate your marketing campaigns.
  • Word Tracker  – Allows you to drill down to keyword search popularity in different countries. You can also buy stand-alone keyword reports of up to 100,000 keywords that are segmented by country to show keyword search history for the date ranges you select.
  • Google AdWords Keyword Planner  – The Keyword Planner has replaced the Google Keyword Tool and is a research tool designed to help AdWords advertisers build new campaigns or expanding existing ones. You can use the tool to search for keyword and ad group ideas, get historical statistics and see how a list of keywords might perform. The tool is useful for general keyword research, as long as you keep in mind that the data is skewed to show performance on AdWords, rather than organic search.
  • Google Trends – If you’re looking for a unique source of potential keywords to target, look no further than Google Trends. Google Trends analyzes a percentage of Google web searches to determine how many searches have been done for the terms you’ve entered compared to the total number of Google searches done during that time. You can use the tool to track the historical popularity of a particular keyword, phrase or topic and compare that performance across a range of countries or dates. It’s a marvellous way of narrowing down which search terms to target. For example, if you aren’t sure whether to focus on *cell phones* or *mobile phones* in your specific target market, you can conduct a search and Google Trends will show you which has been the more popular search term over time.
  • Keyword Eye – Another tool that takes a unique approach to keyword research, Keyword Eye uses a visual approach that adds a new twist to keyword brainstorming. You can use Keyword Eye to discover what keywords your competitors have a presence on within organic and paid search. This is done by analyzing the on-site keyword trends within the content of top ranking pages on Google and then displaying them in tag cloud format.
  • Soovle – This tool also uses a visual approach to keyword analysis, this time displaying a range of related keyword searches and word-stemming options relating to your original search term, sourced from a range of search engines and portals including Google, Yahoo, Bing, Wikipedia, Amazon, YouTube and Answers.
  • Ubersuggest – This free keyword tool can instantly suggest thousands of keyword ideas from actual user queries. Enter your original search term and use the resulting search queries to get more keyword inspiration.
  • iSpionage – A must-have for those of us in highly competitive markets, iSpionage allows you to see which domains are targeting your keywords and out-performing you in Google and Bing/Yahoo. You can drill down to US, UK or Canadian data and isolate both PPC and SEO keyword data.

Hope this helps!

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Fast Five in Search – Week 34, 2014

fast-five

 

I travel around New Zealand regularly, giving in-person training workshops for the Institute of IT Professionals in various online marketing subjects. My most popular workshop by far has been Social Media for Business, likely because many businesses and organizations struggle to understand how best to integrate social into their existing marketing strategies.

During the workshop, I like to show attendees a range of case studies where businesses of all sizes have successfully used social media marketing to promote their products and services and grow their customer base. Some of the biggest success stories I share come from Facebook.

Today’s Fast Five features five of my favourite Facebook business success stories:

Here’s this week’s Fast Five:

1) Pigtails and Ponys – Remember the The Work Song Nanocluster episode of Big Bang Theory when the gang pitch in to help Penny with her hair clip crafting business *Penny Blossoms* and end up briefly turning it into a successful online business? Well, that’s what Pigtails and Ponys have done, but their success is ongoing. Founded in 2011, Pigtails and Ponys sold handmade headbands in local flea markets. The Indian hair accessories start-up then used Facebook Ads to grow what was once just a flea market booth into a thriving online business, with 70% of its customer base acquired on the platform.

2) Griffins Biscuits – This one is close to home for me. New Zealand based biscuit (cookie) manufacturer Griffins were surprised to find a Facebook page set up by a customer requesting that they re-instate a childhood favorite biscuit that hadn’t been produced for many years. Griffins implemented a Facebook survey to gauge reaction and re-introduced Choco-ade biscuits in response to demand. People bought over NZ $1.5 million worth in the first month, making it the number 1 selling product in the country.

3) Scoot Airlines – Singapore Airlines owned low-cost, long haul flight brand Scoot flies to 10 destinations around Asia Pacific. Scoot achieved impressive brand awareness and a 14x return-on-investment using Facebook to drive ticket sales for its Japan flight launch.

4) Michael Kors - Fashion retailer Michael Kors (of Project Runway fame) recently celebrated 5 million *likes* by launching a limited edition shoe – a zebra print sneaker, no less – for Facebook fans only. To buy the shoe in-store, fans had to quote the secret password. The launch drove a 16-point increase in awareness of Michael Kors sneakers and led to sellouts of some styles online and in stores.

and finally…

5) Visit Florida – Florida’s official tourism marketing corporation Visit Florida wanted to promote family travel to Florida during the Summer months. Through its *Sunshine Moments* sweepstakes campaign on Facebook, Visit Florida saw a 10-point increase in people’s likelihood to consider Florida as their next vacation destination, with 18,481 people submitting photos in the sweepstakes and 279 million Facebook Ad impressions during the campaign.

Are you achieving this type of success on Facebook? I’d love to hear your stories in the comments.

Happy Facebooking!

*Image courtesy of Threadless.

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Well Done Paid Search Advertising 201 Graduates

On behalf of Search Engine College staff, I’d like to offer congratulations to our latest graduates of Search Engine College for 2014.

Students named below have successfully completed our Advanced Pay Per Click Advertising course at Search Engine College and attained official certification status (requiring a passing grade of 70 percent or higher).

Pay Per Click Advertising 201

  • Meghan Jump
  • Christine Rokos
  • Sok Khann
  • Hinoh Garris
  • Mary Milner
  • Bonnie Dalager
  • Ashley Washburn
  • Diana Weaver
  • Leona Miller
  • Brett Wohlgemuth
  • Shannon Wampler
  • Linda Ng
  • Cherish Moss
  • Thomas O’Brien
  • Andrea Taylor
  • Christina Bruns
  • Brendan Holmes
  • Artez Young
  • Cherish Moss
  • Lee Chapman
  • Monica Johnson
  • Lori Smith
  • Robert Stevens
  • Maria T Castilho

Congrats to you all! Please contact your tutor if you are still waiting to receive your hard copy certificate, Status Page or certification seal.

Don’t forget to like our Facebook page and follow our Twitter profile @secollege for College announcements such as lesson updates, press releases, new courses, events and milestones.

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