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Souping Up Your SERP: Snippet Tips for Small Biz SEO

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Souping Up Your SERP: Snippet Tips for Small Biz SEO was originally published on, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

You typed your business’s name into Google and you’re wondering how to enhance the way your result looks. How can you get those features you see when you type your competitor’s names in the search engine?

Here’s a resource guide on the ways you can dress up your results when they show up in Google. You’ve got a lot of things going on in your day-to-day running a business duties, so bookmark this page and come back to it whenever you have some time to dedicate to marketing.


Sitelinks are multiple pages on a single domain linked to from one search result. Sitelinks have morphed over the years in their exact appearance. These days you’re likely to come across something like this in the SERP:

google sitelinks 2-column example

In a 2-column Sitelinks layout, up to 12 popular pages within a domain may be linked to. The links are often accompanied by a snippet of text describing the page and the URL.


You’ll also see one-line sitelinks popping up:

one-line sitelinks example

Up to four links to pages within a domain in a horizontal layout, called one-line sitelinks.

The current form of sitelinks and preference controls available to webmasters were established in 2011.

Optimizing Sitelinks

First, you should know that Google uses an algorithm to decide whether to display Sitelinks, and if so, which pages to use.

In a Google Webmaster Help video, Matt Cutts explains that Sitelinks don’t show up for every query, but are triggered mostly for navigational searches, when a website is likely to be in position one. He says, “We do it when we believe it’s useful for users and we have data to support that fact.”

So you can’t tell Google what pages to use as Sitelinks, but you can use Webmaster Tools to “demote” pages you’d prefer not show up as Sitelinks. You can think of Google’s ranking algorithm as a formula of positive and negative factors, and demoting is a negative signal and the only explicit one a site owner has to influence Sitelinks.

And you can influence Sitelinks on your site through SEO. As Google illuminates in its blog post, sitelinks are “generated and ranked algorithmically based on the link structure of your site.” This gives us insight into the importance of site structure, navigation and links in how Google designates pages for Sitelinks.

Read these 7 critical tactics for optimizing a site for Sitelinks.

Rich Snippets

A dressed up result is a big advantage in competing against the many links on Google’s results page. Rich snippets is Google’s name for these dressed up results, and webmasters can use special code markup to help Google generate them.

Here’s Google’s help resource for rich snippets. As you’ll see, there are a number of content types for rich snippets, including reviews, products, businesses and organizations, events and people.

recipe and ratings snippets

Snippets with ratings stars are the new normal for recipes. Is your vertical next?

Think of star ratings sitting in your business’s SERP snippet and the confidence it would instill in a searcher to click on your page. Or having product info, including product description, price and special offers listed right on the search result — a pretty compelling display. This is what you can do by adding some structured markup to your site pages. If you don’t believe me, some testing showed increased page views due to higher click-throughs from search results after rich snippets were implemented.

Optimizing Rich Snippets

The SEO’s Guide to lists all the resources you need. Start by noting the announcements from Bing, Yahoo and Google about their joint support for Schema markup. When the major search engines come together for a cause, you know it’s a legitimate tool for search marketing and one that simply can’t be overlooked.

In there you also have access to Google’s announcement of its Structured Data Dashboard in Webmaster Tools. This is your toolbox for viewing and modifying structured data at the site level and page level as well as by item type.

And finally, you’ll want to view Google’s video tutorials about each of the different content types you can use structured markup on for rich snippets. The Schema Creator tool is helpful as it will do the job of writing the code for you. If you want to try your hand at it, know that the markup language used for rich snippets is relatively reasonable as far as difficulty to implement.


One way to dress up a Google SERP listing is your smiling face. Not only will getting set up with Google Authorship give you a more attention-grabbing result, but you’ll also have access to more search analytics data in Webmaster Tools. Win win.

Virginia's author photo in a Google SERP

That’s my Google author photo in a SERP.

You can get your face in the SERP next to pages you wrote with 2 things:

1. A Google+ profile
2. Sign up for Google’s verified author program

An author photo on a snippet provides an undisputed advantage, increasing click-throughs for one SEO by 38 percent. One blog reported a difference of 484 percent click-throughs between authors with and without author photos. Understand that the advantage will quickly become a requirement in a level playing field as more people verify their Google+ profile and site authorship.

There are other benefits to verified authorship in Google. Google has reason to reward Google+ users, and theories that favorable SERP placement could be given to results with verified authors can’t be dismissed. Verified authors also get bonus links after a back-button click. If a search user clicks back to a Google SERP after having clicked through to a verified author’s post, more articles by that author will appear under the result.

Optimizing Authorship

Your Definitive Guide to Google Authorship Markup comes to you care of Search Engine Land. It explains in detail the various ways Google lets you verify your digital identity (there are three and it can get a little hairy so keep this step-by-step close).

No surprise, the quality of the author’s picture matters. One blogger tested photo variables including backgrounds and crop tightness, and in the end, his click through rate was 35 percent higher and engagement metrics showed improvement, too. Your audience and content will affect the image you may choose to use, yet however you represent yourself in your photo should be done with intention and quality in mind.

Author Stats in Webmaster Tools gives you valuable insight into how often your content is getting served up in a Google SERP. You’ll see the number of impressions and clicks, the click through rate and the average position of your content.

Some extra notes that probably don’t apply to everyone but should be mentioned:

  • Google allows for verification of authorship with an email address instead of a Google+ profile, but it’s not as clean and reliable a solution and so it’s not the preferred method.
  • For writers who contribute to more than one site, use the “Contributor to” include all the publications you write for.
  • WordPress can throw up some additional obstacles to implementing rel=”author” which you can read about in the SEL guide.

And of course, you’ll want this tool handy through all your optimization planning and implementation: Google’s Rich Snippet Testing Tool. You can preview what your SERP snippet will look like using the URL or plugging in the HTML. Happy optimizing!

Bruce Clay Blog

YouTube & Calculus: A Video Marketing Love Story (Plus Tips for Bootstrappers!)

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YouTube & Calculus: A Video Marketing Love Story (Plus Tips for Bootstrappers!) was originally published on, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

Five years ago I graduated from Notre Dame and started my first “real” job. About four years ago, it was clear to me that the corporate world was not everything I’d dreamed it would be. I simply was not cut out for cubicle life. I think most people last longer before reaching my same level of quiet desperation; I guess I just got lucky.

All I could think about was quitting and traveling around the world, but I didn’t know how to do that and pay my student loans at the same time, so I did a YouTube search for “make money doing what you love”. It became obvious to me that I had to start an online business. After all, how else was I going to get away with working from anywhere in the world?

A Graphical Representation of Passion, Love and Time

I started a couple websites that turned into nothing before I figured out what I really wanted to do. It seems crazy to most people, but calculus video tutorials were the right product for me because I love helping people get better at calculus. And I used to tutor other students back in college as a side gig. So I started

I didn’t really know what I was doing at first. I managed to put up a website and make a YouTube channel. I was filming my videos with an old pocket camera, setting it on the coffee table in my living room and pointing it roughly at myself and my whiteboard. And I just kept filming and filming and filming, every spare minute I got on nights and weekends. I knew I wanted to help people, and I didn’t know how to build a business, so I just kept filming.

Since then, it’s been sheer determination that’s kept me going, and a long series of wrong turns that have landed me in the place I’m at today, which is a pretty great place to be. To date, people have watched millions of minutes of my videos, and the growing success of my business has allowed me to move down to part-time work. By next year, I plan to leave my day job and focus full time on integralCALC … and travel.

Here’s a quick example of the type of videos I create (this is an intro to one of my mini lectures on YouTube):

Since I started off as a bootstrapper myself, I learned a lot about video marketing from trial and error. Today, I’m going to share my lessons of video marketing, community and tips on how to make great videos for marketing when you don’t have a giant budget.

Video Marketing Lessons Learned

Video Matters

Written content may still have an edge when it comes to search engine algorithms, but video content can’t be beat when it comes to building community and social networks. Invariably, short videos posted to my Facebook or Twitter page get more likes and retweets than text posts.

Quality Matters

I’ll watch almost any video if it’s very well done. Yet despite that fact that it’s easier and more affordable than ever to create high-quality video content, most people don’t invest time into that extra layer of polish. In today’s online marketplace, you can still find a competitive edge by investing in video and audio quality, even if your competitors currently have you beat in viewers, subscribers or anything else.

Consistency Matters

People check your site when they’re expecting to hear from you. If they don’t know when you’ll publish, they don’t know when to visit you, so they just won’t. Communicating your publishing schedule and sticking to it makes it easy for your followers to follow you. Why wouldn’t you want do that? Make sure that you also prompt your users to sign up for your newsletter, subscribe to your channel, or connect with you on social networks. Give them plenty of opportunities to do so on your website, or on the end screen of your videos.

Viewers Matter

Every time I’ve asked my followers for feedback on something I’ve done, or input on something I’m going to do, I’m always surprised by their eagerness to share their ideas and opinions. And I often find that they disagree with the direction I’m heading. Don’t abandon your purpose for the sake of pleasing your audience, but be willing to give a little. Use your audience as a course correction tool to make sure you’re giving them what they want. If you’re curious about what they’ll think or what they’ll like, just ask; they’re happy to enlighten you.

Process Matters

I used to film my videos with a regular camera, then transfer the file to my computer, edit, export and upload. Switching to screencasting means I save myself the file transfer and the import into the editing software. Cutting out little steps like this can save you a ton of time, especially if you’re a frequent publisher. Look at every step in your process and decide whether it’s absolutely essential to meeting your primary objectives, or whether it can be eliminated.

Here’s a still shot of one of my oldest videos compared to one of my newest, so you can see how it’s evolved over the years:

integralCALC Before and After Video Still Shot

5 Video Marketing Must-Haves

  1. You. Know yourself, and don’t try to be someone you’re not. Write blog posts if you like writing; film videos if you like being in front of the camera. Your audience can sense immediately when you’re uncomfortable, and they don’t want to see you that way!
  2. But not too much you. My YouTube analytics consistently show me that people are more likely to click play on a shorter video, and more likely to stick with the video if the end is in sight. For example, if I publish a six-minute video, people will stop watching at the four-minute mark, but they’ll stay to the end of a five-minute video. Always be as concise as possible. Your viewers appreciate it.
  3. Great audio. I mentioned earlier that quality matters. For a long time, I invested in quality video, while ignoring quality audio, but I know now that ignoring audio quality is a huge mistake. I’m much more likely to watch something with so-so video quality and great audio, than I am to watch something with great video and awful audio. I use a Yeti microphone by Blue, because it’s a good mix of quality and affordability.
  4. Accountability. I’m not the best at keeping myself accountable. I’m passionate about what I do and I have a sense of purpose and determination, but sometimes it’s still hard to stay focused and put in the time. Make sure you have something or someone who keeps you accountable. This is one of the most important must-haves in my opinion, because a great idea or a great product doesn’t matter if you don’t keep going and execute. If you’re self-motivated, then set goals and timelines and stick to them. If not, involve someone you can trust to help keep you on track. Or, you can always use an option like Google Chrome’s StayFocused to deter procrastination.
  5. Knowledge. Don’t spend so much time learning that you neglect real progress in your business. Instead, set aside a predefined amount of time daily or weekly to stay up-to-date. “That was soooo last year” is now “That was soooo three months ago,” so it’s important to make sure you’re taking advantage of the latest and greatest, when it offers significant benefit to your business.

For example, when the “Sh*t so and so never says” meme hit the Internet, I knew I could use it as a way to connect with my audience, so I jumped on the trend right away. I produced the “Sh*t Calculus Students Never Say” video below in less than a week from discovering the meme.

More than anything, I want new entrepreneurs to know that success depends solely on your level of determination. I was unprepared to start a business. I am often intimidated by the amount of opportunity in front of me, and by the amount of work required to take advantage of it. Many times I’ve thought that I would never get this far. Now I know that all I have to do is keep going, and no matter how many wrong turns I make, it only gets better from here.

You can check out and subscribe to integralCALC videos on YouTube and on To stay up-to-date on Krista and integralCALC, check out integralCALC on Facebook and on Twitter @integralCALC.

Bruce Clay Blog

Top 1 SEO Tips for 2013

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Posted by Dr. Pete

If we’ve learned anything in 2012, it’s that Google isn’t letting up on low-value tactics. We’ve had the Penguin update, 13 Panda updates (so many that we needed a new naming scheme), and a crackdown on low-quality Exact Match Domains (EMDs), to name just a few. While I can’t tell you Google’s next move, I can tell you one thing with absolute certainty – there’s more to come. So, how can you protect what you’ve built in 2013?

I was going to write a long list of suggestions, but I realized that they almost all boiled down to just one idea. I’m not going to toy with you – my top tip for 2013 SEO is this:


If at any point in 2012 you asked “What’s the best [X] for SEO?” (link-building tactic, tag, directory, etc.), you’re already in trouble. Any single-tactic approach is short-term at best. Real companies, real link profiles, and real marketing are rich with variety.

So, what does that mean, practically? I’m going to cheat a bit and split my one tip into five kinds of diversity that I think are critical to your SEO success in the coming years.

1A. Diversify Anchor Text

Let’s start with an easy one. We’ve all known for a while that overly aggressive inbound link anchor text was pushing the envelope, and the Penguin Update definitely reinforced that message. If every link to your site reads “buy best Viagra cheap Viagra today!”, it might as well read “spam spam spammity spam,” especially if it’s in a sentence like:

If you’re looking for the best price on the new iPad and iPad cases, then buy best Viagra cheap Viagra today! and get a free bag of Acai berries.

It’s not natural, and you know it. What’s the best way to make your anchor text seem “natural?” Stop obsessing over it. Yes, anchor text is a signal, but any solid link profile is going to naturally use relevant text and appear in the context of relevant text. If you want to tweak the text on some of your high-authority links, go for it, but I wouldn’t break out the spreadsheets in 2013.

1B. Diversify Your Links

Are guest posts the one true answer to all of life’s questions or are they a scourge on our fragile earth? To read the SEO blogosphere in 2012, it’s hard to tell. Any link-building tactic can be low quality, if you abuse it. The problem is that someone reads a tip about how guest posts make good links and then they run off and publish the same slapped-together junk on 15,000 sites. Then they wonder why their rankings dropped.

Nothing screams manual link-building like a profile that’s built with only one tactic, especially if that tactic is too easy. At best, you’re eventually going to be doomed to diminishing returns. So, take a hard look at where your links came from in 2012 and consider trying something new next year. Diversify your profile, and you’ll diversify your risk.

1C. Diversify Traffic Sources

There’s an 800-lb. Gorilla in the room, and we’re all writing more SEO blog posts to avoid talking about it. Most of us are far too dependent on Google for traffic. What would you do if something changed overnight? I know some of you will object  – “But ALL my tactics are white-hat and I follow the rules!” Assuming that you understood the rules 100% accurately and really followed them to the letter, what if they changed?

The more I follow the Algorithm, the more I realize that the changing search UI and feature landscape may be even more important than the core algorithm itself. What happens if your competitor suddenly gets site-links, or you’re #8 on a SERP that drops to only 7 results, or everyone gets video snippets and you have no videos, or your niche shifts to paid inclusion and you can’t afford to pay? Even if you’ve followed the rules, your traffic could drop on a moment’s notice.

You need to think beyond Google. I know it’s tough, and it’s going to take time and money, but if you’re dependent on Google for your livelihood, then your livelihood is at serious risk.

1D. Diversify Your Marketing

There’s been a very positive trend this year toward thinking about marketing much more broadly – not as a tactic to trick people into liking you, but as the natural extension of building a better mousetrap. I think this is at the heart of RCS (not to put words in Wil’s mouth) – if you do something amazing and you believe in it, everything you do is marketing. If you build crap and you know it’s crap, then marketing is sleight of hand that you hope to pull on the unsuspecting. You might score twenty bucks by stealing my wallet, but you’re not going to gain a customer for life.

Stop taking shortcuts and make a real resolution in 2013 to think hard about what you do and why it has value. If you understand your value proposition, content and marketing naturally flow out of that. Talk to people outside of the SEO and marketing teams. Find out what your company does that’s unique, exciting, and resonates with customers.

1E. Diversify Your Point Of View

I recently had the pleasure to finally see Michael Dorausch (a chiropractor and well-known figure in the local SEO community) speak. Dr. Mike arrived in Tampa for BlueGlassX and built his presentation from the ground up, using photography to tell stories about the neighborhood and local history. It's hard to explain in a few sentences, but what amazed me was just how many ideas for unique and original content he was able to find in less than 48 hours, just by having a fresh perspective and passion for the subject. I'd like to say I was inspired by the presentation, but to be totally honest, I think the emotion was embarrassment. I was embarrassed that he was able to generate so many ideas so quickly, just by coming at the problem with the right attitude.

In 2013, if you tell me your industry is "boring," be warned – I'm going to smack you. If you're bored by what you do, how do you think your prospects and customers will feel? Step out – have someone give you a tour of your office like you've never been there. Visit your home city like you're a tourist coming there for the first time. Get five regular people to walk through your website and try to buy something (if you don't have five normal friends, use a service like The New Year is the perfect time for a fresh perspective.

1F. Happy Birthday, Erica!

Ok, this has nothing to do with the post, but today is Erica McGillivray's birthday. If you don't know Erica, she's our Community Attaché here at SEOmoz. So, diversify your communications today and wish her a happy birthday.

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SEW Weekly: LinkedIn Shares B2B Social Ads Tips

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Gary Fearnall, Global Marketing Director at LinkedIn, shares tips and best practices for marketers using Company Pages or LinkedIn Ads. Plus, news headlines include Google, Bing, Twitter and more; find out what’s coming up on SEW Weekly.
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