I Am Entity (And So Can You!)

So it looks like Google just updated their Knowledge Graph, and I am officially an entity!

Knowledge Graph Age

The information comes from Freebase, an open source database of entities and things that was acquired by Google in 2010. Freebase is one of the databases that Google pulls data from for its Knowledge Graph (along with Wikipedia and the CIA Factbook) and is by far the easiest source to contribute to, since anyone can sign up to be a contributor.

I joined Freebase towards the end of October (after reading this great article by Andrew Isidoro), so it’s been roughly 2 months since I added my entry to Freebase and I was incorporated into the Knowledge Graph. Some of the other entities I created are not yet recognized by Google, so maybe Google incorporates entities incrementally, or possibly I need to more deeply interlink the other entities before they are recognized.

In any case, I’m now an entity and I’ll continue to contribute to Freebase in the hopes of getting more entities picked up by the Knowledge Graph. It’s actually pretty fun typing in queries about myself to see what turns up a KG card, similar to playing around with Siri to see what it responds to.

Knowledge Graph School

Here are some other queries that work: how tall is takeshi young, where was takeshi young born, where did takeshi young go to school, what languages does takeshi young speak.

How To Speed Up Your WordPress Site In Less Than 2 Minutes

I’ve been playing around with the new Site Speed Suggestions Tool that was released today for Google Analytics, and noticed a couple of issues that popped up on my WordPress site.

One was that I needed to “eliminate render-blocking JavaScript and CSS in above-the-fold content” and the other was that I needed to “leverage browser caching”. Both sounded pretty intimidating, but with a little research I was able to fix both issues and improve my site’s speed score from 65 to 82 in just a few minutes.

Here are the fixes that I found:

Eliminate render-blocking JavaScript and CSS in above-the-fold content

This one is a common problem in most WordPress sites because many WordPress plugins come with their own Javascript and CSS files. What happens is that once you activate these plugins, all of the Javascript and CSS files are pushed into the header, and have to be loaded before the page can load.

The quick fix to this is to download the install the free Autoptimize Plugin. Once activated, just go into the settings and check the “Optimize Javascript code” and “Optimize CSS code” checkboxes, and it will automatically combine all CSS & Javascript files into a single file to reduce load time.

Total time taken: Less than 1 minute

Leverage browser caching

This one is another common issue, that can be fixed by setting an expiry date or maximum age for static resources (like images) in the HTTP headers to allow better browser caching. That sounds pretty complicated, but all you have to do is copy and past the following code into your .htaccess file, and you’d done (credit Thomas Griffin):

## EXPIRES CACHING ##

ExpiresActive On
ExpiresByType image/jpg "access 1 year"
ExpiresByType image/jpeg "access 1 year"
ExpiresByType image/gif "access 1 year"
ExpiresByType image/png "access 1 year"
ExpiresByType text/css "access 1 month"
ExpiresByType application/pdf "access 1 month"
ExpiresByType text/x-javascript "access 1 month"
ExpiresByType application/x-shockwave-flash "access 1 month"
ExpiresByType image/x-icon "access 1 year"
ExpiresDefault "access 2 days"

## EXPIRES CACHING ##

If you need help updating the .htaccess file, I would visit the link above, but it’s really as simple as logging into your site via FTP, editing the file, and re-uploading it.

Total time taken: Less than 1 minute

So there you have it, 2 quick fixes that will get your site running a little faster in just a couple of minutes.

How To Get A Google+ Vanity URL

It looks like Google+ vanity URLs are finally rolling out for the masses! This morning, I received the following message for one of the pages that I manage:

You’re now eligible for a unique Google+ custom URL that lets you easily point folks to your page (no more long URLs!). Here’s what we’ve reserved for you: google.com/+YourPage

Great news! According to the Google+ custom URLs Q&A, the eligibility criteria for a vanity URL are pretty simple:

  • Ten or more followers
  • Account is 30 days or older
  • A profile photo

Additionally, Google+ pages must be linked to a website. Claiming the vanity URL is simple: you either click on the “Get a custom URL” that appears at the top of your page, or go into the About section of your profile edit the Links section. Once you set your vanity URL, you can then edit the capitalization of the URL by editing it in the Links section.

I only received a notification for one of my pages, but I went ahead and set custom URLs for all the pages that I manage. I also later got a notification for my personal profile as well. Now I have my own custom URL, instead of the horrible string of numbers that Google+ defaults to.

google-vanity-url

Exciting times! It will be interesting to see how things play out as more people reserve vanity URLs. The Google+ system seems to have more check & balances in place than Facebook’s free-for-all system, but I’m sure that won’t stop domain squatters from reserving lucrative URLs for their pages. Let the Google+ vanity URL gold rush begin!

Rejoice! iOS 7 Coming Next Week!

iOS7MacRumors.com announced today that Apple will be holding an iPhone event next Tuesday (September 10th) at 10am PT. If past iPhone events are any indication, Apple will likely introduce iOS7 to download on that day, or shortly thereafter.

This is a huge boon for Internet marketers. As most SEOs know by now, iOS6 prevents referral data from being passed for searches done through the search box in mobile Safari. This means that roughly 80% of searches conducted on iOS devices (iPhones, iPads, iPods) show up in Google Analytics as “Direct” rather than “Organic”.

This has resulted in a huge loss of data for SEOs and internet marketers. At the company that I work for, I estimate that at least 15% of our organic traffic has been lost due to this issue in iOS6. On my own personal site, which has a high percentage of mobile visitors, as much as 40% of my organic traffic has been lost (while direct traffic has ballooned).

Fortunately, iOS7 will fix this issue and provide us all with a nice boost in organic traffic in time for the holidays. If iOS7 adoption is anything like iOS6 adoption, adoption rates should reach 40% by the end of the year and climb to 90% adoption within 9 months. This means it we won’t see all the organic traffic we lost until sometime next summer, but in the meantime we should see a gradual increase in our organic numbers, with big jumps in September (when iOS7 is released) and December (when everyone receives their iOS7 enabled iPads for Christmas).

Anyway, this is incredibly exciting news, and I can’t wait to see my numbers at the end of the month!

Share 13 Conference Highlights

I had a great time at the Share 13 conference organized by BrightEdge this past week. BrightEdge definitely knows how to treat their customers well, and they put on a great event with some great speakers capped off by a wine tour in Napa Valley. Hard to beat that.

I started off the day feeling pretty sleepy, and was pretty much in a state of torpor, hibernation, and estivation (source). However, after a couple cups of coffee I started to feel human again, and I was able to stay awake during the conference sessions.

One of my key takeaways from the conference was the growing importance of mobile, which was a recurring theme throughout the conference. Of course, everybody should know by now that mobile adoption is growing at an exponential rate, but as one of the speakers pointed out, businesses have still been lagging when it comes to developing a mobile strategy. It definitely lit a fire under my ass to accelerate mobile optimizations on both my business and personal sites.

There were also some cool demonstrations of upcoming features to BrightEdge around content and social media analytics that were very interesting. With the recent content marketing push our company is engaged in, these tools will come in handy in easily measuring the impact of our efforts.

Share 13 also provided a great refresher course on BrightEdge, with a Certification program on Saturday morning. I’m happy to say that despite my hangover from the night before, I passed with flying colors. With the popularity of BrightEdge among the leading online businesses in the world, it’s a handy certification to have on hand (source).

The attendees at the conference really reflected the diversity of BrightEdge’s customer base, with top SEOs from major brands in attendance from all over the world. It was really fun networking and talking SEO with all these professionals, as well as live tweeting the event over Twitter.

Overall, it was a great event, and I’m looking forward to attending Share 14.

Pinterest Links Dofollow Again?

UPDATE: As of November 15, 2013 Pinterest links appear to be nofollow again

So I was going through backlinks today using Open Site Explorer’s “Just-Discovered” feature (which is handy for finding newly found links), and I noticed that there were a lot of Pinterest links in there. What’s more, these links were all dofollow.

When Pinterest first launched, all links from the site were dofollow, but nofollow was added to all outbound links early last January. I haven’t heard anything about Pinterest links since then (possibly because I’m news-deprived since Google Reader went away), but it looks like Pinterest does have dofollow links again.

To find the links, just go to any pin in Pinterest, and examine the “Website” button at the top, and you’ll see that it’s a dofollow link.

Pinterest Dofollow Link

There are no meta nofollow tags either, and the pins are not blocked by robots.txt. So it appears that Pinterest links are dofollow again! I’m not sure if this a temporary bug or an actual feature, but for now we can enjoy some link juice goodness from Pinterest again. Time to build up my Pinterest profile.

SearchMetrics’ 2013 SEO Ranking Factors Are Useless

SearchMetrics just released an infographic on search ranking factors, and it’s a bunch of bunk. I won’t dignify them by linking to their site, but here’s an Imgur link if you want to lose some brain cells.

Where to begin with this mess?

First of all, the title of the infographic is misleading. “Ranking Factors” suggests that the data in the infographic actually, you know, has an impact on rankings. But that’s not the case. SearchMetrics just did a correlation analysis of some subset of websites, and put those correlations into a pretty picture. That’s like analyzing a bunch of websites and finding that the highest ranking sites mostly had black text, and changing your text color based on that “ranking factor”. It doesn’t make sense.

Take for example social signals. One might conclude by looking at all the pretty bars that social signals have a high impact on rankings. However, that’s not the case. Google has said repeatedly that they do not take social signals into account for rankings (except Google+, which impacts logged in users).

Or take a look at their claim that having keywords in the URL does not correlate well with rankings, which clearly defies my experience as a professional SEO. Even if the keywords did not have a direct impact on rankings (which they do, even post-EMD update) having the keywords in the URL still helps rankings from a backlinking perspective.

Perhaps most damning of all, almost none of the correlations in the survey have any statistical significance. Here is a guideline for interpreting Spearman’s correlation coefficients:

  • 0.3 – 0.4.9: Correlation is moderate to low
  • 0.16 – 0.29: Correlation is weak to low
  • Below 0.16: Correlation is too low to be meaningful

Going by this rubric, only 6 of their correlations had a moderate to low correlation, and the majority of the data points that they list have a correlation which is “too low to be meaningful”. That’s the entire Content and Technical section, which make up half the infographic!

Anyway, I won’t waste any more words analyzing this infographic, but it’s actually being published on a few internet marketing blogs, so I wanted to clearly disprove these so-called “ranking factors”.

If you actually want actionable ranking factors, Moz puts out a great list every year based on surveys of the top SEO professionals in the field. I also recently came across this set of ranking factors from Netmark.com, which line up closely with my own personal experience doing SEO.

Why Google Reader Shutting Down Is A Good Thing For RSS

In a little over a week, Google Reader will be shutting its doors for good, leaving me and thousands of others scrambling to find a replacement RSS reader.

Like many others, I was pretty annoyed when I first heard the news that Google Reader would be shutting down, but as this article from Google Operating System points out, Google Reader’s closure could actually be a good thing for the future development of RSS.

Google Reader hasn’t been updated at all since 2010, and the popularity of RSS has been in steady decline since 2009. With the pending closure of Google Reader, a number of companies have stepped up to fill the gap left by Google, the most notable being Digg, who is planning on releasing a reader next week, and Facebook, which is rumored to be building their own reader.

This is very exciting, since both Digg and Facebook could take RSS reading, and content discovery in general, in innovative new directions. It’s also lit a fire under the ass of Feedly, and other RSS readers to improve their offerings and capture new users.

Beyond the development of new RSS readers, the closure of Google Reader will mean that blogs could lose millions of readers who had been subscribed to their blogs via RSS. While this is obviously bad for the websites who invested years in gathering subscriptions, it also opens the door to newer blogs to compete against more established players. In every change, there lies opportunity for those who are observant enough to take it.

The only thing I don’t understand is why Google would shut down Reader in the first place. It may not have as many users as its other services, but many of the most influential people on the web use Google Reader, and the content discovery platform would seem like an ideal match for Google+, which is already poised to overtake Facebook in sharing by 2016. That seems like a lost opportunity for Google, one that Digg & Facebook are looking to capitalize on.

Image Title Test for SEO

You may have noticed a couple days ago I published a blog post called “Image Post Test” that included nothing but a picture of a dog. That was part of a test I was conducting to determine whether the title attribute of an image has any impact on SEO. It’s always struck me as odd that the alt attribute has impact on image SEO, but the title doesn’t, especially since the title is visible to users.

Anyway, for the test I took a picture of a dog that’s never been published before on the web, and included it in a new blog post with a nonsense title that doesn’t return any results in Google. You can see the keyword below:

Google Screenshot

The post has been live for about 3 days now, and the post has been indexed, but so far the nonsense word still doesn’t return any results. An image search reveals that the image has not been indexed yet, though, so I’ll leave the post up for a few more days to see whether the image being indexed has any impact on the keyword.

It’s looking doubtful at this point that the title attribute will have any impact on the search results, but I figured I’d put my failed experiment out there anyay. People always post successful experiments, but rarely failures, which is a shame since there is a lot we can learn from failures as well. Experiments like these testing conventional wisdom are rarely successful, but it’s always good to test our assumptions, especially if the source of our assumptions is the word Google.

What Yahoo’s Purchase of Tumblr Means for SEO

The big news today is that the rumors have finally come true, and Yahoo has purchased Tumblr for 1 billion dollars.

As I detailed in my presentation about Tumblr, Tumblr is the 3rd largest blog platform next to WordPress and Blogger, and also one of the top social platforms and microblogging platforms out there. They have over 100 million users, half of which are under the age of 25, which makes Tumblr a very young demographic, one that aging Yahoo will want to reach out to if it hopes to remain relevant over the next 20 years.

So what does Yahoo’s purchase of Tumblr mean for SEO?

In the short team, not much. Many industry observers are comparing Yahoo’s purchase of Tumblr to Google’s purchase of YouTube, and Yahoo’s CEO Marissa Mayer has emphasized that Tumblr will remain an independent entity apart from the flagship Yahoo site, so don’t expect Yahoo to be painting Tumblr purple or making any drastic changes anytime soon.

On the other hand, Matt Mullenweg, the founder of WordPress, noted that the number of people jumping ship from Tumblr to WordPress increased on the rumor of Yahoo’s purchase. Tumblr has already lost more than 72,000 users, and we can expect them to lose more users who aren’t confident with Yahoo’s track record of acquisitions. Overall, though, I feel the acquisition will be a net positive in terms of users, as more people hear about Tumblr for the first time due to the press its receiving.

Long term, I expect the Tumblr to continue growing in terms of users and adding more features thanks to the increased resources they now have access to. This should increase the domain authority of the subdomains on Tumblr and increase social engagement on the site as well, which should only help with using Tumblr for SEO. Best to get a head start before all the newbies jump in!