Friday, 28 November 2008
Hi everyone hope the infomation about links and traffic is usefull
Websites are quickly becoming one of the most popular ways of advertising. Whether it be a business, its product or service or something completely different, everyone of all ages is turning to the web as a method of getting their message out there. With the popularity of this marketing medium increasing and the number of websites always growing, it is obvious that everyone wants to appear at the top of Google's search engine rankings. Achieving such a task is not an easy feat, however with a bit of perseverance, one can definitely improve their chances of reaching that glorious first page result.
Given that there is a heap of websites out there who are on the first page, what is their secret? It is a little industry term called "SEO" and it stands for Search Engine Optimization. SEO basically consists of the customization of your website, its content and its internal and external links to assist in the overall indexing and ranking of your website in popular search engines. There are many contributing factors that are used in determining a website's ranking and every search engine is different. This makes trying to optimize your site for Google, Yahoo, Live and the many others quite a painstaking task.
As most of us are aware, Google is currently the most popular search engine for the majority of Internet users. As such, it is only normal that we'd want to focus our sights on achieving a higher ranking within Google first with the hope that the rest will follow. To do this, we must start a journey that could potentially take months before we start seeing any real change, however we have to start somewhere.
Our journey begins by defining some of the key contributing factors that Google uses to determine a website's and webpage's ranking within its results. These factors range from keyword use to manipulating internal and external links and the líst goes on. To get you started, we have listed the top twenty factors that you should focus on in order to help get your website that little bit closer to the top of the search engine results listings.
Keyword Use Factors
The following components relate to the use of search query terms in determining the rank of a particular page.
1. Keyword Use in Title Tag - Placing the targeted search term or phrase in the title tag of the web page's HTML header.
2. Keyword Use in Body Text - Using the targeted search term in the visible, HTML text of the page.
3. Relationship of Body Text Content to Keywords - Topical relevance of text on the page compared to targeted keywords.
4. Keyword Use in H1 Tag - Creating an H1 tag with the targeted search term/phrase.
5. Keyword Use in Domain Name & Page URL - Including the targeted term/phrase in the registered domain name, i.e. keyword.com plus target terms in the webpage URL, i.e. seomoz.org/keyword-phrase.
The following elements comprise how Google interprets specific data about a webpage independent of keywords.
6. Link Popularity within the Site's Internal Link Structure - Refers to the number and importance of internal links pointing to the target page.
7. Quality/Relevance of Links to External Sites/Pages - Do links on the page point to high quality, topically-related pages?
8. Age of Document - Older pages may be perceived as more authoritative while newer pages may be more temporarily relevant.
9. Amount of Indexable Text Content - Refers to the literal quantity of visible HTML text on a page.
10. Quality of the Document Content (as measured algorithmically) - Assuming search engines can use text, visual or other analysis methods to determine the validity and value of content, this metric would provide some level of rating.
The factors below contribute to Google's rankings based on the site/domain on which a page resides.
11. Global Link Popularity of Site - The overall link weight/authority as measured by links from any and all sites across the web (both link quality and quantity).
12. Age of Site - Not the date of original registration of the domain, but rather the launch of indexable content seen by the search engines (note that this can change if a domain switches ownership).
13. Topical Relevance of Inbound Links to Site - The subject-specific relationship between the sites/pages linking to the target page and the target keyword.
14. Link Popularity of Site in Topical Community - The link weight/authority of the target website amongst its topical peers in the online world.
15. Rate of New Inbound Links to Site - The frequency and timing of external sites linking in to the given domain.
Inbound Link Attribute
These pieces affect Google's weighting of links from external websites pointing to a page and ultimately will assist in the ranking of that page.
16. Anchor Text of Inbound Link.
17. Global Link Popularity of Linking Site.
18. Topical Relationship of Linking Page.
19. Link Popularity of Site in Topical Community - The link weight/authority of the target website amongst its topical peers in the online world.
20. Age of Link.
Negative Crawling/Ranking Attributes
There are also some points we should make before you start getting your hands dirty. With any type of SEO marketing, there are some things that can actually have a negative impact on your ranking. These following components may negatively affect a spider's ability to crawl a page or its rankings at Google.
Server is Often Inaccessible to Bots.
Content Very Similar or Duplicate of Existing Content in the Index.
External Links to Low Quality/Spam Sites.
Duplicate Title/Meta Tags on Many Pages.
Overuse of Targeted Keywords (Stuffing/Spamming).
It's now time to get busy! Start prioritizing your tasks, modifying your content and building your internal and external links to meet some of the above guidelines. Keep in mind that improving indexing is mostly a technical task and improving ranking is mostly a business/marketing strategy. What might work now may not work in the future and finally, it takes time. Loads of time. Still, with a bit of trial and error and a good dose of persistence, you can achieve the search engine ranking you're after.
It's always a good idea to stick to the basics. When businesses stray too far from the fundamentals, problems arise, but sticking to the basics doesn't mean boring people into a state of unconsciousness. If Web-visitors' eyes glaze-over upon entering your site, you've lost them before you've begun.
Web success is based on creative implementation of the basics, and that's where your Web-marketing presentation should begin.
1. Web-Audience Response Demands Communication
The Web has a lot in common with television but there are fundamental differences; it is important for Web-entrepreneurs to understand these differences and similarities, and learn from them.
Television and the Web are both communication environments, but television, like magazines and newspapers, are primarily advertising platforms. Of course there are plenty of websites around that follow the advertising financial model, but for the average business website, depending on third party advertising not only dilutes their marketing message and brand, but it also makes for a confusing and cluttered visual presentation.
Just because your website presents information, doesn't mean it's communicating it to your intended audience in any meaningful way. The manner in which you communicate your message is as important as the message itself. The medium is increasingly becoming the message, and even in situations where it isn't, it definitely shapes the message.
2. Web-Audience Response Demands Content
You have repeatedly heard the comment, 'content is king,' but we think, 'communication is king' because without communication your content is meaningless. But here's the dilemma, your information is basically advertising, after all you're in business, and business is about selling something - a product, a service, an idea, or your know-how. So the real underlying purpose of your website is to make that advertising message worth listening to, and to do that, you need to turn it into content.
To turn advertising into content you have to accept that sales take time. You have to be patient. You can't hurry a sale, you first have to build confidence; stop rushing the close and start thinking of selling as a courtship. You would never ask someone to get married on a first date, so why would you expect to get an order from a potential Web-client on their first visit.
3. Web-Audience Response Demands Courtship
No one is going to make a substantial financial commitment without reaching some level of comfort with who you are and what you do, and that requires some repeated contact: a courtship, or negotiation if you prefer.
Therein lies the similarity and difference between websites and television: the success of a television program is based on habituation. If you get people to tune-in every week on the same night, at the same time to see their favorite program, you will be able to keep delivering your marketing message through the commercials that pay for the content. In the same regard, if you can make your website interesting enough through the compelling presentation of content, you will get visitors to return again and again, each time gaining confidence and respect for what you do and what you sell.
The difference is people accept television commercials as the price they pay for free TV programming, but the same cannot be said for the Web. People want free information on the Web without the irritation and bother of ads; so the challenge for website owners is to turn their marketing message into compelling programming that creates habituation which is just another form of negotiation, or courtship of potential clients.
4. Web-Audience Response Demands Consistency
You hear the word strategy bandied about with little relevance to its precise meaning. In marketing terms, strategy is a big idea, a sustainable concept that you can build a business around.
Successful companies rarely change their strategies, a concept that should not be confused with tactics, which are the various methods used to implement strategy in order to secure the ultimate objectives.
Business has to be resilient and open-minded enough to adapt to an ever-changing business environment by constantly updating tactics, but strategy needs to be a constant, a touchstone or benchmark for implementing action. Staying on course requires confidence in the strategy with a vigilant eye on the big picture.
Websites that are nothing more than brochures or catalogs of product that anyone can purchase at the local mall or box store is a tactic that delivers little relevance to today's Web-savvy consumer. And the same can be said for the blatantly obvious direct marketíng sites based on old magazine subscription techniques. The new multimedia communication-based Web requires new presentation tactics in order to successfully implement marketing strategy.
5. Web-Audience Response Demands Expectation
Successful marketing is not just about persuading people that what you have is what they need, it's about creating a series of deliverable expectations.
If you expect a product to be easy to use because that's what the marketing communication states, then that product better be easy to use. Effective marketing presentations not only prompt action but just as importantly they create a set of realistic, deliverable expectations.
Ask yourself, why do people mistrust politicians, car salesmen, and telemarketers? We all know the answer: many will say, and promise, just about anything to get your vote or order, and the result is a disgruntled, cynical voter or customer. Read my lips, no false expectations!
6. Web-Audience Response Demands Trust
When customers' expectations are met, you begin to create trust, and trust is one of the hardest things to achieve on a website that lacks any kind of human connection to the audience.
I can't tell you how many websites I've visited that make no effort to humanize their presentations, and consequently their businesses. When you go to a contact page and all that's there is a form to fill-in, with no contact name or phone number, it says to people, 'I really can't be bothered talking to you.' Hiding behind email tells people not to trust you, and if they don't trust you, they are not going to do business with you.
Business is about connecting to people, whether they are consumers, purchasing agents, or suppliers. If your website doesn't have some kind of human element like a video Web-host, audio message, or even a contact name and phone number, how can you expect to connect and build confidence, and trust in your intent to satisfy their needs?
7. Web-Audience Response Demands Personality
By building trust with your Web-audience you are also building your brand and defining your corporate personality. Here again we have a bit of a dichotomy since personality is a human-based characteristic, so how then can we create a personality and instill human characteristics into an inanimate entity like a business?
Corporate personality does not derive from a logo, packaging, or your website's aesthetic qualities. Corporate personality is the sum total of the collective experiences your audience has with your company. In the brick and mortar world, corporate personality is a result of dealing with people, sales people, receptionists, and telemarketers; in short personality is derived from interaction with real human beings.
Clever, well written website copy can help create personality as long as it is written in a distinctive human voice, but we know that 70% of all website text is never read; people skip to bulleted points and captions. But the same material delivered by a real person either through Web-audio or video, not only delivers the marketing message in the most memorable and compelling fashion, but it also defines the business personality and humanizes the website.
Two caveats: avatars are not people, and unless you can afford to hire the creators of the Simpsons to develop your animation, you best forget it; as well, using yourself or a non-professional as a spokesperson or Web-host is a dangerous practice, and speaks more to ego than it does to effective business development.
8. Web-Audience Response Demands Motivation
Lastly your website must communicate content that excites and motivates people to do business with you. The ability to motivate people isn't about what you're selling; it's about how you present it.
Motivational speakers, whether in the business, entertainment, personal coaching, or sports arenas, all deliver a similar message; but the ones that truly stimulate people to act, are the ones that know how to present their ideas in the most exciting and compelling manner. If you want to motivate your Web-audience to respond, your presentation has to be delivered by a real human being: a professional with charm, charisma, and a distinctive character.
Building backlinks is an essential, yet tedious job for most webmasters. Here are a few tools and tips to make that job just a little bit easier...
Most of the forums have to do with online marketing and site promotion. Recently, I came across a post on Ken Evoy's SBI forum that truly caught my attention.
It basically described how to use Google Alerts to build your backlinks. Now for those not familiar with Google Alerts a little explanation is probably needed.
Google Alerts is a free program run by Google that allows you to keep track of any topic on the web. You select your "keywords" or "urls" and Google will alert you via email whenever links/ content containing your selected topics appear anywhere on the web.
It is an excellent way to keep informed about your domain or name. It is also perfect for keeping up-to-date on the latest information in your market niche or niches. It's also a great way to find out what other people are saying about you or your site.
For example: if you have a site on "antique cars" then you would create a Google Alert for those keywords. Google will alert you by email whenever a new link/content related to those keywords appears on the web.
This is a great way to stay informed in your niche, but it is also a valuable source of potential linking partners. Many of those links are blogs that will allow comments with a link back to your site.
Google Alerts will probably send you 10-20 links each day, depending on the popularity of your chosen keywords. Just go to these blogs/links and see if you can leave a comment with some valuable additional information on what's been discussed.
Please Note: Don't spam; there are intelligent people behind most of these blogs, and they will recognize keyword spam when they see it. Your main goal should be getting targeted traffíc back to your site and any link PR should be secondary. Always put the reader or viewer first, especially if it's on someone else's site. Don't talk about your site or your marketing - just join the conversation and add your comments/opinions/suggestions...
Enhance their site and they will reward you with traffic and a link. But you still have to keep your interests in the equation! You have to make sure you get your targeted keywords in the anchor text.
First, if you've done your homework, your main keywords should already be in your domain name or url. Another way is to add your "keywords" + "guide" to your sig or signature. Such as: Name, Your Antique Cars Guide. If you're an expert in your particular niche, many webmasters will kindly welcome your comments and links.
Since your main goal is the traffic, many webmasters don't worry if there is a "no follow" attribute attached to the link. But if you are concerned about this - one way is to look at the source code to see if it has the "no follow" tag. I usually copy the whole source code of the page to my text editor and then do a simple "no follow" search.
There is also a great little free comment tool called "Comment Kahuna" co-created by Jason Potash which will search blogs and tell you if they have the "no-follow" attribute or not, it will also give you the PageRank of each blog post. If you're going to use blogs as a source of your backlinks, I suggest you try Comment Kahuna - it will make the task much easier and it's free.
Actually, while the "no-follow" issue may be a concern for some webmasters, the savvy ones will realize these are links/sites Google is actively indexing and spidering, otherwise you wouldn't get the alert in the first place. You must get your links into this whole mix of related, relevant sites to help raise your rankings. Also remember the other search engines may not even consider the "no-follow" tag.
Likewise, creating trackbacks are another way of linking relevant content. Keep in mind, a trackback is simply an acknowledgement via a ping signal that is sent from Site A (originator) to Site B (receptor). Then the receptor often places a link back to Site A showing its worthiness.
Again, I am mainly concerned with the quality of the blog or link, rather than the linking structure. I want the targeted traffíc, and it doesn't really matter whether the link has "no follow" because interested visitors only see a link they can click for other helpful information.
Other Linking Options
Since we are on the topic of link building, another useful way to build backlinks is to use Google Search or Google Blog search. Now if you're looking for niche-related blogs just type in:
"(Keywords)" "powered by (blog scripts)"
For example, if you're looking for some "antique cars" related links on WordPress blogs, you would search for:
"antique cars" "powered by wordpress"
And Google would give you a whole líst of sites on antique cars.
Now if you want to find the links that will allow comments, just repeat the Google search with:
"antique cars" "powered by wordpress" "leave a comment" -"no comments"
Remember the "-" means posts that have no comments will not be displayed.
If you're concerned with PageRank, Number of Backlinks, Alexa Ranking... of particular posts you can download and install the SEOQuake plugin. This handy SEO plugin can be attached to your browser and will give you helpful SEO information on the link or links you're viewing.
Used in conjunction with Google, it can sort thru all these blog posts and give you the ones with the highest PR? Highest traffic? Highest number of backlinks? The more knowledge you have, the easier and more effective your link building will become.
Just remember, finding quality backlinks is probably the most tedious job for most webmasters. It takes time and it takes patience. By using Google Alerts you can have relevant keyword related links emailed to you each day. Use this information to help build your backlinks in relevant related niches. Do this consistently over a period of time and your site will get noticed and ranked higher.
There have always been do-it-yourselfers succeeding at web promotíon and search engine optimization. In fact, many of the established businesses offering web services today came from humble beginnings, perhaps nothing more than a college student with a laptop, an internet connection, and too much free time. The Web evolves as the result of the innovation and experimentation of individuals. The sharing of knowledge. The do-it-yourself attitude.
As text link brokers and mass link networking decrease in value and use of social media increases, it becomes more important for companies to have an internal approach and awareness of search engine marketing. Don't get me wrong; outsourcing to SEO firms is still a smart option. That said, making the most out of Web 2.0 usually requires some level of cooperation between SEO firm and site owner. You don't need to be an expert to know the basics of good SEO practices, and that added knowledge will be agreat advantage whether you're working along side an SEO team, or promoting your site in your spare time.
So if you're on a "need to know" basis with SEO, the following points should illustrate what an overall plan should include:
1. Create Search Engine-Friendly Content
Unique web content is your most valuable asset, and ensuring search engines can read it is crucial. Text embedded in images or Flash cannot be read, so make sure you use important keywords, headings, and hyperlinks in plain text form. Instead of using images as navigation links, CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) makes it easy to format those links to look more like 'buttons', thus creating powerful anchor text as well as making it visually appealing. Use heading tags properly and don't try to hide keywords or text by making it the same color as the page background or shrinking it so it can't be seen. Make sure the keywords you wish to rank high for are used frequently in the page copy but within reason.
2. Choose Your Keywords Wisely
One of the first steps of SEO, this one needs to be done properly the first time or all your future efforts and promotion could end up being wasted. Start by writing down general terms that describe your products, services or web content. Use keyword research services to investigate word and phrase variations. Wordtracker, KeywordDiscovery, and the Google AdWords suggestion tool are good starting points. The goal is to find those niche phrases that your target market uses to find sites just like yours and optimize your site for them. If the phrases do not get enough use by searchers, your profíts from ranking for them will be low. At the same time, stay away from general terms that are tougher to rank for (ie. like "art", "computers", "business", etc.) as a great portion of the traffic will be irrelevant and you'll break the bank attaining such competitive phrases.
3. Get Others to Link to Your Site
In theory there are countless ways, some traditional and some quite innovative, to get other web sites to link to yours. In practice, it can be easier said than done. Google defines a link as it pertains to rankings and SEO as a "vote" from one site to another. The more quality votes your site receives, the greater chance you have of ranking well. If a well established site links to yours, that link carries more weight than one would from a mom & pop shop or less reputable page.
If your site has useful content and is doing something unique, you're already ahead of much of the competition. People need a reason to link to your site, as very few will do it out of the goodness of their heart. Trading links can work, but link exchange networks have decreased in value and won't be of much use in competitive fields. Buying links, if you haven't heard, is a big Google no-no. While entire articles could be written on this topic, here are a few popular methods of acquiring incoming links:
issuing company press releases with a link back to your site
submittíng to reputable business directories such as Yahoo! and Business.com
be active on related blogs by commenting and exchanging ideas
if you have clients with web sites, ask if they would mind adding your link in a "partners" section
participate in relevant forums and discussion boards with a link in your signature
write and submit original articles to web publications in your field with a link in your bio
get involved in social media and bookmarking
4. Join the Social Media Revolution
The collaboration between Internet users and the development of online communities is at an all-time high. Social bookmarking sites such as Del.icio.us, StumbleUpon, Furl, Reddit, and Technorati provide users a way to store their favorite pages and media online, and share it with others. These services also provide a way to promote your content or create a buzz over a product or service. Creating a Myspace page or Squidoo "lens" is also a way to network and share information.
However, if your goal is to generate sales, then you must provide something without the promotional hype. The reality of social media is that popularity is based almost entirely on public interest. If your information or media isn't unique or of interest to anyone, you cannot force success using social media communities.
The key to using social media and bookmarking sites to your advantage is to not be shy. Getting your entries and content to the popular pages on these sites requires some hard work. Network with other users, bookmark and share useful content, create eye-catching titles for your entries, and tell your friends and co-workers about the content you have on these sites. However, don't force your employees to vote your entries up - this is social media fraud. If you have great content and simply share it with as many people as you can, it will see success naturally.
These four points are a general guideline to follow for SEO. Search engine optimization experts and firms are a good outsourcing option in competitive markets, while the DIY attitude can yield great results for web site owners with smaller marketing budgets. If you're in the latter group, hopefully this helps get you started.
The Internet is such an unknown commodity anything is possible. One of the most intriguing questions concerns the idea of a perpetual traffic machine. Create a website and design a system of automatic programs (both interior and exterior) that delivers content and backlinks to a site that updates itself automatically and keeps growing without any help from the creator. In the process you build a flow of traffic that doesn't stop, even if the site is abandoned or not touched for a couple of years or never again.
Is such a perpetual traffic system really possible?
Before you conjure up pictures of HAL and creepy talking computers in distant space... realize that question may carry more weight than it would seem at first glance. But is it like its predecessor, the perpetual motion machine - just more an illusion than actual fact?
For curiosity's sake if for nothing else, the idea of a perpetual traffic machine does require further investigation. Such a system would have special interest for millions of webmasters whose main task is acquiring traffic for their sites, not to mention the potential for monetary gain a PTM (rhymes with ATM) would produce. Some credence was given to the idea recently when Tinu Abayomi-Paul, a well-known online free traffic expert, produced with the help of Marlon Sanders an info-product entitled "The Evergreen Traffic Machine."
Tinu's story is very interesting. Tinu had built up a whole array of sites and optimized them successfully for countless keywords in all the major search engines. She had built up a steady flow of traffic, resulting in thousands of visitors "a day" to her sites. This in itself is not that extraordinary, but that's not the full story.
Because of a personal illness she abandoned or left alone most of her sites for over a year or more - only to discover the traffic systems she had put into place didn't just dry up, they still kept producing tons of traffic even though the sites weren't being updated.
The traffic was still coming. The traffic was still fresh.
Tinu basically built her perpetual traffic system around three major areas: High Profile Article Marketing, Exact Keyword Focus and Blogging/RSS Feeds. Tinu's system proves you can create a traffic system for a year or two, but the real question is will it still produce traffic five years from now? Fifty years from now? How about a hundred years?
The real question: how long will such a system work without fresh input of unique content like the viral articles and blog posts now feeding it? This question is even more tantalizing when you consider it is now possible to create fresh content on your sites with RSS feeds, blog comments and user contributed content.
What's more intriguing is the fact that all aspects of a website can be automated, including payment for all renewals: domain, hosting, autoresponders... as well as the collection of revenues such as affiliate commissions and advertising fees.
Are we at the stage where the Internet will be filled with these automated human-less web sites drawing traffic/visitors and slowly building and expanding on their own for eternity? Many cynics would argue this is already the case with the majority of sites on the web.
In case you like that idea and want to fully embrace this brave new automated perpetual Internet, here are a few tips to create your eternal traffic machine:
1. Build lists and pre-load your AR system with follow-up messages to keep visitors coming back to your site. You can rotate these messages and ask your subscribers to opt-ín to different lists on related subject areas. Always ask your readers to recommend your content to others.
2. Use social bookmark software or links so that your visitors can easily bookmark your content which brings in both new links and new traffic. Simple programs like the one offered by Addthis.com will get your visitors building your backlinks for you, bringing in fresh visitors who in turn will also bookmark your content.
3. Write viral articles, reports and ebooks that have your backlinks in the resource boxes. Likewise, viral software programs can help bring a constant flow of traffic to your site. If your content is of a high quality and your themes universal... new sites will pick up your content and build your backlinks, creating fresh traffic. The search engines will also index these new links and your rankings will rise, bringing in more traffíc.
4. Use blogging and RSS feeds to get your content out there. You can also use these RSS feeds to bring in new fresh content to your site. Creating new content will be your main obstacle to creating perpetual traffic... you can get new content from feeds but will it be unique? Comments in your blogs could bring in unique content but if you're not monitoring them, you must have solid software in place to fight against spam.
5. Have "Tell a Friend" forms on all your content. This will bring new traffic to your site, which can be self-refreshing as new people discover your content.
6. Encourage user generated content such as articles, comments, posts... you can even have a community monitoring system where your site's members monitor this new content.
7. Form JV alliances with webmasters in your related field. Do co-registration so that you help build each other's lists and traffic.
8. Likewise, if you have products to sell, create an affiliate program to get your affiliates to build your traffic for you. Affiliates are an excellent source of permanent traffic.
9. Automate all aspects of the running and managing of your website. Set up automatic payments for your AR system, hosting, domain renewal, PPC payments... thru PayPal or credít card. Likewise, receive affiliate commissions thru PayPal or direct deposit. Many advertising programs like Google Adsense provide direct deposit.
10. PPC Traffic - While we have mainly looked at free traffic systems, don't forget creating a PTM is relatively easy with Pay Per Click advertising if you know what you're doing. Target less competitive keywords to keep your costs down, tie this traffic into a good squeeze page for feeding your AR system with leads and have a good landing page that converts. You can create a system that delivers perpetual traffic and pays for itself from your affiliate commissions and advertising fees.
In summary, the argument for the existence of the PTM mainly relies upon the quality of your content or site. Is it unique enough to draw in new visitors? Does your topic have universal appeal that people don't tire of? Does it solve or provide advice on a common human problem? Will or does it have a viral "word of mouth" element to it?
As we move to a more and more automated world, all the automated programs and hardware are in place for the creation of such perpetual traffic machines.
Computers, autoresponders, content management software, RSS feeds, viral marketing, direct deposit, automatic payments... and the líst goes on. If we haven't already created the perpetual traffic machine - we are getting tangibly close to doing just that.
What's the big deal about search engine optimization? Isn't it enough that you've put up a website, purchased some Google AdWords, and sent out an email to everyone you know announcing your site? In short, no. There is an art and science to search engine optimization (SEO), and it is critical for web-based businesses to know, understand and utilize if they want to drive quality traffic to their website via the Internet.
Where do you begin, though? How can you possibly know whom to trust or what to do first with so much information out there on SEO? Do you buy links or not? Pay per clíck or go organic? And what about those SEO companies who are aggressively promising Number 1 rankings? When it comes to search engine ranking, there are a lot of rumors and myths about what will improve your rankings and what won't.
Debunking Some Popular Search Engine Ranking Myths
- Pay per clíck (PPC) ads will either help or hurt organic rankings. (Organic simply means the process by which web users find websites having unpaid search engine listings.)
Debunked: PPC is categorized differently than organic listings. There is no effect, one way or the other, on ranking.
- Websites are banned if they ignore Google guidelines.
Debunked: While it's a good idea to read Google Webmaster Guidelines or Google 101: How Google Crawls, Indexes and Serves the Web, you are not banned if you ignore their guidelines.
- Websites are banned if they buy links.
Debunked: Sites are not banned. The links just aren't counted.
- Copy must be a certain number of words, use a specific keyword density, and contain bold or italicized keywords.
Debunked: It used to be thought that there was a magic number of words used or certain times a keyword or keyword phrase should be repeated. Not so. Same with bolding and italicizing. They don't do anything for ranking.
- Duplicate content will get your website penalized.
Debunked: It will just get filtered out and not counted.
- Reciprocal links won't count.
Debunked: Every link counts, to a certain extent.
- SEO companies can improve your rankings without doing any on-page work.
Debunked: Run if an SEO company tells you this.
According to SEO expert Jill Whalen, SEO isn't magic and isn't a crap-shoot. "SEO is about making your website the best it can be for your site visitors and the search engines." Want to help the right kind of people find your website? Then you need to design your site so search engines can find, crawl and index your pages.
Seven Ways to Get Your Website Crawled
It's better to have one main website with numerous domains pointing to the main domain, than to have mini-sites or multiple sites with similar content. Mini-sites and multiple sites with similar content do not increase search engine listings and are frequently viewed by search engines as SPAM.
If you do have several stand-alone websites, make sure each serves a different target audience and has unique content with different domain or sub-domain URLs.
Choose keyword phrases that are most relevant and specific to what your web page is about. Think from the perspective of someone searching for what you are offering on your site. Ask, as if you were they: What would I search for if I am looking for something on your page?
Validate your keyword phrases through either paid or free services, such as Keyword Discovery, Wordtracker, or Google AdWords.
Check for keyword competitiveness. Take into consideration the size of your business. In this case, size does matter. If you are a major player with a major brand, you can play in a larger competitive pond than a smaller company just starting out. Know what size pond is right for you, and check for competitiveness by putting: allintitle: "keyword phrase" in your browser and check the number count.
Once you have your keyword phrases validated and checked for competitiveness, use them in anchor texts, clickable image alt tags, headlines, body text copy, title tags, and meta descriptions. Meta tags aren't all that important for crawling.
SEO can be both intimidating and exhilarating. Intimidating because it seems as if just about everyone has an opinion on what it takes to get a high ranking in Google, so it's hard to know what to believe. Exhilarating because, once you understand the method behind the madness of SEO, you see the art and science of it. Then it becomes fun and easy to come up with a strategic plan about where to place keyword phrases, how to write copy, and what size pond is best for your company to compete in. Optimize your website, and they will come.
Online marketers frequently struggle with the question of how to compete when Google fails to look positively upon a particular website. In this article, I will focus on how to build rankings and drive traffic to your website, using Google and the other search engines.
What Motivates Google's Algorithm
Over the years, many have tried to claim, even in court, that Google was unfairly keeping their website out of the top of Google's search results. But, the truth is that Google is not beholden to the needs and desires of the webmasters who want to be on page one of Google's natural search results.
Instead, Google is beholden to its stockholders and its need to earn profíts. Google has determined that the best way to keep profíts high is to keep Internet users flocking to its websites. Google accomplishes that by giving its users the kind of information they are looking to find, and Google weights its search algorithm towards what Google believes its search audience wants to see in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).
It is important for online marketers to understand that it is not always in Google's best interest for our websites to rank well in Google.
How Important Is Google In Search?
Worldwide, Google is currently providing 78% of all searches.
But in 2007, Google only provided 52% of my website's total search traffic. Yahoo, Windows Live, Ask, and MSN provided the next 42%. The remaining 6% of my website's search traffic came from another 55 smaller search engines.
On my website, only 48.8% of my 2007 traffic actually came from search engines. The remaining 51.2% of my website's quarter million visitors came directly from article placements on other websites, recommendations from other people, forum posts, and from people who have bookmarks for my website.
Tips For Ranking Well For Specific Keywords
It has been my experience that it is easier to rank in 1) MSN / Windows Live, 2) Yahoo, and then 3) Google, in that order. Quite frankly, I have always ignored the role of Ask in the search market. While MSN is the easiest search engine to rank in, it only delivered 4.6% of my total search traffic in 2007.
I read a question in a forum, where the poster was asking how he could get his website to rank well in Google for the search term, "software".
The truth is that it is nearly impossible in nearly every search engine to rank well in the natural results for such a singular keyword as "software". In a nutshell, if you want to rank well in Google, you need to build inbound links (IBLs) to your website with your targeted keywords in the links.
But, you don't want to put all of your links together with one keyword phrase. One of Google's red flags is when they notice a link to a particular website appearing more than 60% of the time with one specific keyword phrase.
Utilizing a variety of long-tail keywords will actually serve you better in the search-engine ranking puzzle, in more ways than one. After all, when I do a search for software, I don't type in the search word, "software". I type in search phrases like: "accounting software", "small business accounting software", "windows software accounting small business", "windows image editing software", "windows software image editor", "windows xp photo album manager", etc.
People searching the keyword "software" have yet to figure out that they are looking for specific kinds of software. Once they do an initial search, they are going to type in more specific search terms to find what they actually want. So, once you start targeting a variety of long-tail keyword phrases, then you will start seeing more success in your search marketing efforts.
How To Start Your Search Engine Optimization Journey
If you are wanting to get into the natural search results of Google and the other search engines, you must know before you dive into the project that getting good rankings in the search engines for your chosen keywords can take a really long time, before you begin seeing results.
While inbound links to your website, targeted to your chosen keywords, will help your website climb in the search results of your favorite search engines, it may be a frustrating journey.
Your competitors want to rank well for the same search terms you do. And since only ten of you can be on page one of the search results, you may have to work really hard to topple those guys already on page one of the results, and you will have to fight to keep your ranking once you get it.
There are some keyword phrases that are nearly impossible to rank for, even if you have really deep pockets. For example, most every keyword phrase for the financial industry will be extremely difficult to rank for in Google. Competition in this industry is fierce, so achieving top search rankings will be tough to say the least.
This is the reason why so many SEO experts encourage marketers to target "low-hanging fruit". It may be fairly easy to rank well for a four- or five-word search phrase, and extremely expensive to target a two- or three-word search phrase.
My personal approach has always been to rotate through a líst of more than 100 target keyword phrases, over a longer period of time. In doing so, I capture a lot of low-hanging fruit quickly, and at the end of the loop, I am a bit closer to snagging the fruit in the upper branches of the tree. At the end of my líst, I analyze my keywords again to see where I am strong and to see where I am still weak, and then I begin the process again. (According to SEOdigger.com, I have better than 950 keyword phrases in the top twenty results of Google.)
How To Get Links
The challenge most people face when they begin building links to a website is where to get those essential links.
Article marketing is my chosen method for getting inbound links.
Because of Google's news feed strategy, the initial placement of your article might appear immediately in the SERPs, but then it will disappear. During the news cycle phase of the Google algorithm, new materials are given an added boost in ranking. Once the news cycle is done, any new pages will sink back down to where they would be based on the general Google algorithm.
If you are honest with yourself, you know that every page on the Internet started life with a PageRank Zero, but given enough time, many pages will gain in PageRank, as they begin to be linked. For a more detailed look at the process of how reprint articles gain value for a website in Google's search index, see my article about "Fishing for Links in Google".
Utilizing article marketing as a link building method, I have put one website on the map in as little as eight weeks, with only three articles. This website has one #1, one #2, eight results on page one, and twelve results in the top twenty listings of Google. Most of those keywords also rank well in Yahoo and MSN.
On the other hand, on my main website, I started looking at the keyword phrase "article marketing" just eighteen months ago, when my website sat at #79. Today, my website sits at #12 in Google for that keyword phrase.
I believe that given enough time, investment and commitment, I can use article marketing to elevate any web page on the Internet to multiple page-one listings in Google. But, not everyone is willing to make the kind of investment and commitment one needs to get to the top of Google's search results...
What To Do When You Need Results Now
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Matt Cutts posted a note about Google being in position to handle
paid link report submissions from the Internet community; Michael
Gray complained about the fairness of the request.
A long time part of the ranking of sites for given keywords in
search results includes inbound links. The more links connecting
anchor text to a site, the more that site is seen as authoritative
in the search rankings.
Move up the rankings to the first page of search results at
Google, especially in the top five for a given query, and the
relative traffic for the query should easily outdistance that
from lower ranked search results.
To get that bonus placement, many webmasters over the years
purchased links from other sites in order to gain an advantage.
As the practice grew, even though links are not the sole arbiter
of where a site ranks, Google began looking for ways to weed out
these paid placements.
So when Matt Cutts followed up his chat with Eric Enge by
advising people it would be a good time to drop new paid link
reports on Google, Michael Gray responded with a lengthy complaint
about Google's chasing of paid links.
"Your rules are selectively enforced and you take an aggressive
hard line stance against Internet marketers, while little Mary
A-List gets off scot-free," Gray said of Google and its treatment
of high-profile bloggers who receive valuable offline
considerations in exchange for their coverage of companies.
Gray wants to see Google pursue the so-called A-List of bloggers,
determine whether or not they picked up some kind of benefit in
exchange for favorable blogging, and penalize them the same way
Google penalizes link sellers.
"Why does Google aggressively go after the SEOs and ignore the
PR people? Why do people continue to tolerate Google's double
standards and two-tiered justice?" Gray asked.
One might argue that quality comes into the equation. A link from
a high-profile blogger to someplace of relevance and value means
more to the person who discovers it than a link to a site that
does not provide anything approaching an equally quality
In either example Gray gave, PR-purchased blog coverage versus a
webmaster to webmaster paid link opportunity, a benefit goes from
one party to the other. The difference is no blogger worth his or
her keyboard would ever admit to being influenced by the largess
given out as part of a PR campaign.
Tough economic times call for small businesses to get creative and
acquiring a domain name is an important first step in building a
successful online business.
A little equal treatment may be helpful. But Google will need an
army of investigators to dig into even a small selection of high-
profile blogs, in order to figure out if a relationship between a
blogger and a linked site merits action.
We don't see that happening for a reason beyond the obvious. Google
wants to drive out the influence of paid links, but they don't want
to push the A-list of bloggers into simply using other means of
getting the word out about their posts.
Imagine if the best way to figure out what a Gray or a Cutts had
to say was by tracking the topics they cover without using Google
search. Online forums abound when it comes to webmaster topics, of
course. Social media and shared bookmarking sites each offer people
the chance to be a network of like-minded interests.
Drop in participation on a messaging service like Twitter or
FriendFeed, and there's little reason to proactively search when
relevance from either person arrives unbidden. Imagine that
scenario, where for a particular interest, Google just isn't as
Not every niche would draw similar interest; don't look for Google
to fold or for its founders and CEOs to give away their billions
to live as fudge-cooking Trappist monks as search traffic falls
to zero. The seeds to do more without Google exist. It's up to
people who hold views like Gray's to plant and water them.
Get Ready to Rumble...
We're all human. Competition runs in our blood. Everyone wants to be first or "the best"... carry this attitude over to your website and you are sure to beat out your competition! Your website is your virtual store, and if you don't possess this thinking already, you need to. Invest in your website, as its seen 24 hours a day, seven days a week by potential clients all over the world. Be prepared and get educated, as a website is a terrible thing to waste. The good old days of tweaking things here and there and wham! ...top ten placements, is over. Invest your time and hire a good SEO firm to help you market your business the right way.
Find out who's the hottest in your industry and make it a goal to beat them. With over 180 million searches on the web today, it is imperative to research keyword phrases that your competition is going after. What are their marketing tactics and are they working? Do they have an email campaign located on-site? What are their credentials? Does the website provide coupons, discounts or hot deals? It's the internet my fríend, the competition is steep and all bets are off. So, roll up your sleeves, put on your gloves, and get ready to rumble! Or, research an internet marketing firm that specializes in both search engine optimization and website design that can fight the battle for you.
Simple Simon Wins
Being a "Simpleton" ain't all that bad these days. Just because the world turns at record breaking speeds doesn't mean your website has to. Too much going on, whether there are words upon words, or graphics up the wazoo, can do more harm than good. Be cautious before slapping up just any old image or using too much text to get your point across. We all know that "Content is King!", but Optimized Content reigns supreme. By strategically placing the right keywords in your Title Tags, Meta Data Tags and throughout the body of your website, your business will benefit. Clean design, concise code, and fresh marketing ideas that are clear to the end user will help you get the leads and generate the desired sales you are looking for.
Optimize, Optimize, Optimize!
Search engine optimization... what's all the hype about!? Internet competition is booming - open your eyes and smell the code! If you have a beautiful website, but it's not converting...you've wasted your time and money. A well built website with search engine optimization in mind is a goldmine at your finger tips. What's the first step in optimization? Researching and determining a líst of keywords that will drive traffic to the site and convert into sales. Test out various keywords, find out what your competition is and let it ride. For the keywords that don't convert, bag 'em. Expand your focus to reach broad based keywords as well as long tail keyword phrases. The narrower the keyword is, the more likely the user will convert on your page.
Widgets are In
What is a widget? Widgets aid in the process of interacting with your target audience. When your potential customer/buyer installs your widget on their webpage, blog or social media networking profile - you wín a valuable fríend! Widgets provide a great way to strengthen the bond between your existing customers and any newbies who are interested in your product. Get new customers and provide a widget for them to interact with you. Personalization is "key". Almost anything can become a widget - from games to stock tickers or audio players - put your thinking caps on and give your customers the option!
Smarty Pants Always Test
This is true. Successful websites are successful because webmasters test their work. A great way to test your website to see if your design is working is through the A/B Split method. These tests run concurrently, at least for a couple of weeks to gain true results. A/B testing provides real world, data-driven, unbiased results based on your target market. There is now even an easy to use A/B Split testing program through the Google Website Optimizer tool! Check it out and win big. Go ahead - be a smarty pants... you know you want to!
Time to Analyze
Yes, folks - it's time to analyze. You might think the hard work is done, but it's now time to see if all your work has paid off successfully. You've created this gorgeous website perfectly equipped with clear calls to action, clean code and search engine friendly site architecture - now what? Let it ride and hope for the best? NO! Test, test and analyze your findings.
Does your hosting company provide a stats program? If so, fire that baby up and analyze what is working, what can be tossed out and what needs to be amped up. Focus on unique visitors, time on site, referrals, and what keyword phrases are driving the most targeted traffíc. A stat program is your fríend, NOT your enemy. Embrace your website's analytics and learn from them to tailor your website, your search engine optimization and your business model after this information. Google also has a free analytics program that involves placing a simple code before the body tag on pages you'd like to track. Fast, effective and proven.
If you are a "do-it-yourselfer", I hope these tips helped you with the marketing of your business. If you are too busy and are looking for a firm to handle both the building of your website and the marketing - research a good SEO firm. Count on a professional internet marketing company to shine through and get your hard work to pay off. Good luck!
One webmaster found Google unwilling to index pictures located in an images directory, but some extra content apparently left the site afoul of Google's guidelines.
Here's the short version: don't stick cached content in a directory you want Google to index. Chances are the Googlebot will freak out and run screaming from your server.
Michael VanDeMar wrote at Smackdown how a simple test of indexing images in a subdirectory ended up with Googly accusations of webmaster malfeasance.
Opening a discussion on a Google Groups webmaster help discussion eventually attracted the attention of a Google staffer, John Mueller, who took a peek into VanDeMar's images subdirectory and found some terrifying creepy-crawlies therein:
VanDeMar keeps those cached copies to support his discussions, as such pages can and will change regularly, or disappear altogether from sites. Doing this in a place where Google expects not to find such content evidently put him in a tough spot with the search engine, as Mueller suggested it ran counter to Google's webmaster guidelines.
The difficulty appears to be in the nature of the cached pages. Mueller thinks it's duplicate content, VanDeMar believes it isn't, based on his reading of the guidelines; he further questioned why the entire subdirectory received a delisting from Google.
The obvious solution, as one commenter suggested, would be to place the cached pages into a different directory and tell the Googlebot to stay out of it. Whether or not it's the fairest solution for webmasters won't figure into the decision, as Google has really dug in on quality issues it perceived over the past year.
Keeping cached copies of content sounds like a prudent course of action to take. It helps keep site visitors from clicking into a non-existent page, which makes the linking site look bad. If Google consistently dumps subdirectories that mix cached and original content because the company thinks duplication is in effect, webmasters will have to alter their linking structure to accommodate the fussy Googlebot.
Many blogs are abuzz with the news about a recent fake piece of linkbait that ended up capturing the eyes and ears of many big traditional news outlets and bringing the originating story thousands of backlinks. After the community went up in arms about the "snakeoil" tactics of this piece of bait, Nick Wilsdon and Barry at Search Engine Land talk about the ramifications of the action, especially with how Matt Cutts is responding to it from a Google perspective. In a Sphinn thread (that is REALLY long; you have been warned), Matt says:
My quick take is that Google’s webmaster guidelines allow for cases such as this: “Google may respond negatively to other misleading practices not listed here (e.g. tricking users by registering misspellings of well-known websites). It’s not safe to assume that just because a specific deceptive technique isn’t included on this page, Google approves of it.”
There’s not much more deceptive or misleading than a fake story without any disclosure that the story is hoax.
Numerous forum members at Sphinn are disappointed in the approach taken here, especially since it was fake and deceptive. Others think it's unfair for Google to assert control over web content. Yet others understand that Google wants to link to the most trusted and relevant website, so they're going to obviously take action. I'd argue that the piece of linkbait in question is the most relevant piece of the pie here and should rank #1 for the query.
The question is: what would happen if nobody admitted that the linkbait was fake and everyone assumed it was true? Even if people contest the motives of this particular piece of linkbait, it was confirmed as fake, but do you really think that every piece of linkbait out there is legitimate?