SEO Tips Including Rel=Canonical and Affiliate Links
November 15, 2017//3,524 words
In this article, we will be continuing in our challenge to cover over 200 factors affecting search engine optimization.
We are going to touch on a variety of different search engine optimization factors such as rel=Canonical, which is used when you have duplicate content to tell search engines which ones you want to be shown, and Geo Targeting, which is used by those who are involved in Pay-Per-Click campaigns specifically but also used by Google for organic search results and understanding that location does play a role depending on the intent of certain keywords.
So without further ado …
KEYWORD AS FIRST WORD IN DOMAIN
Having a keyword in your domain name gets a lot of value. Many marketers have a problem with the amount of value given to such domains, however, it’s a mute point as we are playing Google’s game right now and they are making the rules.
In any case, having the keyword as the first word in your top level domain is the most important of all.
If you have explored my site at all (or perhaps my Twitter page) you’ll see that I enjoy playing fantasy sports, mainly fantasy baseball. What can I say, I’m hooked. If I do a search for “fantasy baseball” (which I probably do more often than I should!), you can see how Google bolds the keyword “fantasy” in the result for FantasyPros – a good indicator as to the value the site is receiving because of having that word at the beginning of its domain.
Now, as I said before, many experts think that too much weight is given and I would probably agree. I think it would seem a bit spammy to have all keywords begin with say “marketing …” or “fantasy …” but like everything, I would not be surprised if this changed and became less important in the not-to-distant future. In the meantime, if you are in the process of looking for a new domain name and you can make your top keyword fit at the beginning, than go for it!
REL = CANONICAL
In previous articles, we have discussed redirections and how there are multiple forms but the one that should be used above all else is the 301 permanent redirection. 404 redirections will be a negative for the user experience, although they are nearly impossible to avoid altogether, and 302 temporary redirects are viewed by search engine’s as just that – temporary. This means that none of the value from the old link will be passed on to the new link.
We have also discussed duplicate content, and how that’s a negative SEO factor because it could signify spamming. It also affects you when you have backlinks pointed to:
and others depending upon your website platform. Although the other site is linking to your home page for example.com, the value from their link is only hitting one of those and not all of them. So if you have 20 backlinks to your home page and they are dispersed amongst 4 different home page URLs, well, you can see how that will diminish the value.
The rel=canonical tag comes into play in this scenario. Think of it like a 301 redirect that is easier and quicker to implement. This is what you would put into the <head> of your HTML document:
<link rel=”canonical” href=”http://example.com/blog” />
If you put this in the head of your page, what it is telling search crawlers is that you want the “link juice” or rankings power to be taken from this page and given to “http://example.com/blog.” Perhaps this given page has duplicate content associated with it, but it’s important to keep it as part of the site for the sake of the user. That is definitely understandable.
There are a few things to watch out for – and these come straight from Google itself so you know that it’s important:
- Be sure that a large portion of duplicate content actually existson the new page being pointed to, if not, the canonical tag could be ignored.
- Double check that your target link actually existsand it will not return a 404 error.
- Verify that the receiving link does not have a “no index” or “no follow” designationattached to it from the robots.txt file.
- Stick to just one rel=canonical tag per page. If you include more than one they will be ignored.
To further understand the canonical tag, visit Moz’s article which looks at the topic a little deeper.
If you have an established blog, you are probably familiar with affiliate links. For those of you who may not know much about affiliate links, consider this definition from Techopedia:
When affiliates (i.e. blog owners) sign up on the provider’s website, they are given their own unique link which is used to track the traffic and possible sales of the individuals who click on the given link. The affiliates would then likely receive a commission based on those numbers.
Now let’s shift to the perspective of the company that has the affiliate program. These sound like solid backlinks, right? Not quite. Google does not give value to these links because they are not made based on content but rather the intent to make money.
Makes sense. But there are perhaps a few things that you can do to get as much SEO value out of these affiliate links as possible:
- Create a dedicated landing page: The affiliates will link to this landing page first which will in turn make the link a true backlink instead of an affiliate link.
- Assist your affiliates with the richness of their content: Create high quality videos that the affiliates can embed on their sites. This will help them to have additional content for their page and you will receive the backlink credit for the embedded video.
- Add a HTML wrapper around embedded objects: Often, affiliates embed content from the site of the affiliate program’s owner. Google does not recognize Iframes in their search rankings which is usually how items are embedded. Adding an HTML wrapper with a link to the program will allow the affiliate to customize the look and feel of the content as well as provide a backlink to the program.
Some of you may not be at this point with affiliate programs, however, they are an extremely useful way to leverage the reach and audience that other individuals and sites have gathered. When you are ready to start an affiliate program for your business, fully optimize the program with these tips!
CONTENT PROVIDES VALUE AND UNIQUE INSIGHTS
Websites that have thin or highly duplicated content obviously do not provide much value to the user and that’s a big problem. I don’t think anyone would disagree with that. Googleaddresses this topic directly and actually aims it towards affiliate sites. Google’s algorithm update to Penguin 3.0 also targeted these sites.
The issue is that affiliate sites are thrown together with the sole desire (or perhaps greed) to start making as much money as fast as possible. Any decent business person, however, understands that things take time and should be bit properly. Unwise affiliates often just copy the information directly from the program’s website and call it a day. This produces both thin and duplicate content.
Even if the sole purpose of your site is to be an affiliate or drop-shipper, you should still treat it like your own business. That means creating new and rich content and spicing up the product descriptions from the program’s website. Google also went as far as to give some recommendations as well from a ranking standpoint:
- The affiliate content should be secondary to the unique content on your site.
- Does your website add value not found if the user went straight to the affiliate program’s site?
- Is the program relevant to your intended audience?
- Build a community with the users on your site by leveraging a blog or forum.
- Update your content often and keep the content fresh.
Really, these tips should be considered by everyone who owns a website – not just affiliates.
# OF LINKS FROM SEPARATE C-CLASS IP ADDRESSES
I’m going to tackle this SEO factor by sharing a story common among many back in the day, before search engine’s started caring about quality content.
Sam (that’s what we’ll call him) created a website for his business. He did some research and discovered that backlinks were extremely helpful to how a site can get ranked well on Google and other search engines. So he went out and create a bunch of other websites, and linked back to his business website as often as he could. He called this sites “dummy” or “ghost sister” websites. He even went so far as to create some unique content on each of the sites. And it worked! His site gained the bonus from the extra links and received a ranking boost. Job well done.
This was extremely common even just 10 years ago. In fact, Google didn’t have anything major in place to prevent these black-hat SEO tactics until the Panda algorithm was activated in 2011.
One of the things that Panda did, was negate or nullify links that were coming from websites using the same (or nearly the same) IP address. You see, our buddy Sam created all of those different websites which were all hosted on the same server for his convenience. Google decided that links from the same or nearly the same IP address should not be viewed as unique or quality.
On the flip side, having a website that is garnering backlinks from multiple different IP addresses suggests a wide breadth of interest which is definitely tied to quality content.
LINK LOCATION IN CONTENT
Links are perhaps the most important influence in SEO. Whether we are talking about internal links or backlinks, they all play an important part in determining the quality of the neighborhood where our site resides, the quality of our content, and the structure of our website as a whole. For example, in regards to structure, we would be best suited linking to deeper pages within our site to lower the depth and flatten our sites and it would matter less to link back to common pages such as the home page which already holds the majority of the links.
Generally, links located in the body content of the page are better than on the sidebars. They perform better and are typically more relevant to the topic of the page itself. For more proof on how links work within the content compared to the sidebar, look no further than when Google removed their sidebar ads recently!
Once within the body of the content, links that are placed towards the beginning of the article carry slightly more weight than those further down the page. There is no clear reason given on this. My theory would be that perhaps the links towards the beginning may be more relevant to the overall topic of the page as opposed to links down the page that might be more specific to what that sentence or paragraph is referring to. I may be wrong, but I’m trying to think with my Google glasses on here – and no, I don’t mean the expensive, fancy ones!
TRUSTRANK OF LINKING SITE
Google has so many different components but I bet one of them that you’re not extremely familiar with is TrustRank. TrustRank is a formula within Google’s algorithm that determines how much your site can be trusted – that is, looking at your history and the black and white hat behaviors of your site, is your site well-behaved?
If yes, than you will achieve a high TrustRank score which, in many cases, will thwart any changes to their algorithm while sites with low TrustRank will be much more easily swayed.
Brian Dean, from Backlinko, shared a story about how one of his main competitors blew up one of Brian’s pages with over 250,000 spammy blog comments. His ranking, however, did not change. He’s of the belief that’s because Google trusts his site.
I will have to write a whole article about TrustRank at some point, but for now and cutting to the chase, it would mean a whole lot more to receive a backlink from Brian’s site than it would from say another new website out there that didn’t have any TrustRank built up yet.
As always, there’s a tool that you can use to measure TrustRank at SEO-Mastering. It will also reveal a lot of other cool stats about your site that aren’t seen in too many other places.
Geo Targeting is part of Google’s effort to personalize search results. Simply, where you are impacts the results that you see to some extent depending on the intent-level of certain words. For example, if I search pizza, it’s likely that I’m wanting to order a pizza from somewhere and my results show as follows:
You can see the top 3 results still belong to the big players and then after that you start to see some results based on geo-targeting in my location of Chestertown, Maryland.
This is helpful from an organic results point of view depending on what business you’re in. Honestly, for my site, it matters a little but not much. I would like to get my content out there to as many people as possible regardless of location, however, it is helpful to be somewhat close to a business because face to face meetings are still extremely important. If I was a donut shop, however, location would be everything!
This is especially important in pay-per-click advertising and where the concept of geo-targetting is probably more popular. If I was a donut shop in Chestertown, Maryland, I wouldn’t want to pay for someone in Salt Lake City, Utah to see my ad!
NUMBER OF GOOGLE +1S
Receiving Google+ followers and likes also has a positive effect on your search engine optimization. Google tries to be sneaky, however, and throw us for a loop by saying that ithas no direct correlation, but I agree that perhaps it doesn’t have it’s own determination but rather it’s linked in with social votes in general.
Google used to go so far as to have it shown in its results:
One thing to note for social media in general, is that on top of increased engagement assisting your current search results, your accounts could also place highly in searches themselves. Like this:
You see, if I search for the company that I work for, Mullin/Ashley, after our homepage Google reveals all of our social media accounts. I look at this like another landing page that helps to bring potential clients one step closer!
POPUPS OR DISTRACTING ADS
Kenny Novak explains the different types of popups:
- Old-school popups: The ones that were filled with spam and after an hour of browsing the internet, you’d have at least 10 of them hiding behind the browser window.
- User-Triggered: Helpful. Add content when a button or link is clicked on.
- Time-Delayed: Right next to “old-school” in my opinion although they are usually just going for an email address. Still though, I’m trying to read your content, why are you distracting me!?
- Exit-Intent: The best. I use them as well. You’ve used my site for what it was and now you’re about to leave, but wait… I’m going to try to hook you one last time!
The Google Dance refers to the time period in which a new algorithm or update is going live when search results may see small to moderate fluctuations. Google has over 10,000 servers and 13 data centers and because of that, the updates take place at slightly different times causing some variances. eFactory has some good information on the process that takes place when Google performs an update.
This concludes part 3 of our series. If you have any additional thoughts, please send me a note or comment below! Hopefully after reading my content you will feel more prepared to handle the wonderful world of SEO! Please check out some other great content.