Nofollow tags, Google Local Search, and Geo Sitemaps

220 of San Diego’s (and from around the county) finest marketing specialists, packers, servers, trackers, you name, it gathered today downtown at the Omni for an info- and networking-packed day. It was my first Interactive Marketing Day event and there was some very helpful information provided by the various presenters. Following are some top-line findings.

Advanced SEO Techniques

Once again, the dynamic duo of Miguel Salcido and Steven Peron impressed with empirical studies that demonstrated some key findings in regard to the use of nofollow tags, Google local search, and Google geo sitemaps. Miguel and Steven promised to post their findings on the blog, following are some highlights:

Nofollow Tags

Since the home page typically has the most link juice (or authority) use the nofollow tag only on the home page. This will concentrate page rank among the core links, and not waste it on non-essential links and pages (such as contact us, etc.). If you’re not familiar with the nofollow tag, check out Google’s informative blog on the use of the tag. In fact, Miguel and Steven reported that at SMX West Matt Cutts recommends the use of nofollow tags. Keep in mind that nofollow tags tell the search engines what to follow – the user experience is not affected by the use of nofollow tags

Miguel and Steven also posited an intriguing reversal to conventional wisdom regarding flash navigation. They suggest using non-SEO-friendly navigation (such as Flash) to avoid link juice from being spread too thin. This way link juice can be focused on targeted links and pages. Although this flies in the face of the common arguments of why to avoid using flash, it makes perfect sense.

Through a series of very interesting controlled tests, Miguel and Steven discovered the following:
i) If there are duplicate links on the same page, Google followed only the first link and ignored the second;
ii) if there is a nofollow on only the first link, Google will not follow either link (this is because Google scans a page first to remove duplicate links, thus removing the second link, and then scans for follows, thus ignoring the first link);
iii) use a 301 redirect to spread page authority to multiple links that point to the same page (this was accomplished by using a 301 redirect on the second link which pointed to a different URL and then redirected to the first URL).
Again, to see more detail, be sure to check out the blog.

Google Local Search

Miguel and Steven reminded us to make full use of the Google local search directory – if you haven’t done so, log in and register your business. In all the Google discussions, they really stressed the importance of gaining Google’s trust, not only through ‘white hat’ practices but also by providing as much information as possible. In fact, demonstrating a pro-active stance, with Google’s local directory, for example, helps gain the trust of Google. Following are some of their tips and suggestions:

i) Place a keyword in the name of the business listing (for example, for a law firm client, they entered the name as “DWI Law Firm..”; this helps the listing rank for that keyword in local search);
ii) Put keywords in the specialty category;
iii) Add photos and videos (taken from the website for continuity if possible);
Iv) Link in Youtube video (if available);
v) Post a virtual tour;
vi) Get reviews, and list business on Kudzu, Yelp, and other review sites (this, in fact, helps Google verify business address and operation – all good for building trust with Google).

Google GEO Sitemaps

Be proactive. Rather than wait for Google Earth to find your business, go ahead and create a KML file in Google Earth and make it available to the Google bot can index your site. They suggest creating a KML file in Google Earth, uploading it to your site’s server, and creating a separate geo sitemap. In fact, you can put the KML file in the XML sitemap but Google WebMaster Tools will show it as a broken link (or error). Supposedly this is a temporary situation that Google is working on fixing. Just to be safe, make a geo map.
This one definitely merits additional information be sure to check out the blog.

The end result of optimizing the Google local search directory and related SEO was substantial increases in keyword rankings on Google. I look forward to implementing these and other tactics for several client sites that serve geographic-specific regions.

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