David Leonhardt’s SEO and Social Media Marketing

Tips for better SEO (search engine optimization) and website marketing …

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Archive for February, 2007

Website Conversions – Free Advice from Google

Tuesday, February 27th, 2007

What does website conversion have to do with SEO?  Nothing…unless you want people to do something when they click on your listing.

Fortunately, Google is providing two new tools to help you.  The first is the AdWords Optimizer, which is meant for their PPC programs, but can help with any landing page.  For the moment, Optimizer is in an invitation-only beta phase.  (I’m number 500 gazillion on the waiting list).

In the meantime, Google is providing a demo video which is free for anyone to view.  The second half of the video talks about AdWords Optimizer, but the first half gives you some superb tips on conversions from the world’s biggest search engine.  Not bad for the price of reading this blog post.  Here’s where you can view the Website Optimizer Overview Demo video.

 


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Wikipedia should be spanked!

Monday, February 26th, 2007

I must be feeling edgy today.  I just posted a message on a public forum saying Wikipedia should be spanked!

The post is over at Webdigity webmaster forums.  It is consistent with what I wrote a month ago about Wikipedia being the dead end on the Information Highway, although I don’t think I mentioned spanking that time.

 


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More Google Sitemaps Heretics

Sunday, February 25th, 2007

After posting a somewhat unorthodox position against using the KEI formula for keyword research yesterday, I find myself posting another heretical position today…but this time with full backing from several well-placed SEO experts.

Rand Fishkin (and who is more respected than he?) recently posted My Advice on Google Sitemaps – Verify, but Don’t Submit .  It’s a position similar to what I have also taken since Day One.  I responded to his post, quoting from one of the many other SEO experts who got there before I did (so I took some time off on a Sunday for a change!).

If you’re in too much of a rush to head over there, here is what I posted in response at Rand’s blog…

“I always tell clients that if their site is built correctly, they don’t need to submit a sitemap. I’ve also never submitted a sitemap for any of my own sites”

Sugarrae’s comments reflect my own.  Getting hundreds of extra pages listed is of little value anyway if they don’t a) carry enough weight to rank or b) provide sufficient link-juice to help other pages rank.

Like PageRank, SiteMaps is a gimmick.  If you find a use for it, so be it, but I haven’t found a use yet.

 

 

 

 


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Business Ethics on the Internet

Sunday, February 25th, 2007

I was quoted last week in Maclean’s, Canada’s national newsmagazine (sort of an equivalent to Time or Newsweek) on a matter of ethics.

I get to see two very contrasting worlds of ethics on the Internet.  First, we run an SEO marketing service, which means that we spend a lot of time swimming in polluted waters.  Let’s face it, for every really good and honest SEO, there are several incompetent ones, and probably as many outright dishonest (unethical ones).

On the other hand, we run a freelance writing agency.  Writers tend to be a highly ethical group, sometimes overly so.  We’ve only had to ever sever our relationship with one writer who showed signs of being unethical.

So it might come as a surprise that we were commenting on ethical lapses related to writing.  The context was a cover story on cheating in universities in both Canada and the United States, and how the universities are pretty much ignoring this destructive wildfire sweeping their campuses.

And, of course, the Internet is fueling this fire, offering both anonymity and instant access to “information”.  And for every person seeking a ghostwritten term paper, there is some dishonest writer willing to write it.

Ethics is ethics.  Period.  Anonymity does not make something right.  The Internet does not make something right.  Notwithstanding that many things that are really matters of pour etiquette get labeled “unethical” on the Internet, there are all too many people willing to be evil to make a little extra money (What, me, use strong language?)

OK, I know you’ve been salivating to know what I had to say about ethics and writing in Maclean’s, so here’s the excerpt:

Running a freelance writer agency, I can tell you that the second most-frequent writing request, after books, is for school papers.  We have even been requested to write PhD entry essays.  We respond to all such queries by refusing to help a student cheat himself (or herself) out of an education.

 

 


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KEI Formula Misleads for Keyword Competitiveness Research

Friday, February 23rd, 2007

Many SEO specialists wonder why I don’t use Keyword Effectiveness Index, or KEI, to research the right keyword phrases to target.  On the surface, the KEI formula makes sense, and it struck me as so obvious when I first learned about it. 

To the best of my recollection, WordTracker invented KEI, and their original description of the formula was, “the KEI compares the Count result (number of times a keyword has appeared in our data) with the number of competing web pages to pinpoint exactly which keywords are most effective for your campaign.”  What better way to research keyword competitiveness?

At first a fan, I did eventually come to my senses.  This formula tracks how many websites are in a given database for a searched term.  But it is not the volume that counts; it’s the distribution.  Here’s an analogy… 

Which way would you prefer to cross a city on foot:

1. A small alleyway, with a thousand thugs lounging in cafes around the city.
2. An equally small alleyway, with a dozen bloodthirsty thugs in the alley bent on stopping you.

KEI would lead you down the equally small alley…the one with very few keyword phrase competitors, but all right in your way, fighting hard for their high search engine rankings.  Is that what you want?  Of course not.  Keyword popularity is not the selection criteria that matters.  The SEO game is not a democracy…at least not yet, but that’s another story.
I had a sort-of related question from a client today:

Say for instance the word “tennis” was hyperlinked all over the web on all different pages and sites yet the links could be linking to 100′s of different places. Doesn’t that make the word “tennis” more competitive because other sites are trying to use it to increase their chances in trying to get it to show up in the search engines?


On the surface, her proposal made eminent sense, but it’s not the total volume that counts, rather the distribution.  Here was my response to her:

That depends.  If There are a million links with the word “tennis” in them, pointing somewhat evenly to 100,000 sites, the most any one site might have pointing would be, just for example, 20 or 25 links with the word “tennis”. On the other hand, there might be only 500,000 links with the word “badminton” in them, pointing to 100,000 sites, but skewed toward a dozen sites that have been battling it out for top rankings, each with 2000 – 10,000 inbound links with the word “tennis”.  It’s not the volume that counts, but the distribution.

Look very carefully at the top 10 ranking websites for a given search term at your favorite search engine…and how well-optimized those sites are for the keyword, how many inbound links they have, what the quality of those links appears to be, etc.  Don’t rely on the KEI formula or any other web-wide aggregate figures for keyword selection.
  

 


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Multilingual Social Bookmarking

Wednesday, February 21st, 2007

I just stumbled upon Digg-Like Sites, a great little directory of social bookmarking websites in various languages.  I plan to do a Spanish and French version of my own social bookmarking script, TheBookmarketer, so this will be very helpful.  If you plan to do any multilingual online marketing, these can come in handy!

 


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SEO for Reputation Management: Part III

Monday, February 19th, 2007

Yikes! It’s been two weeks since I posted SEO for Reputation Management: Part II.  So your patience has earned you a good post.

In SEO for Reputation Management: Part I, we made the strategic decisions of what Amanda wanted people toi see when they Search Google or Yahoo for her name.  In Part II, we took inventory of what is already on the Information Highway that she can use to that end.

Now it’s time to put together the plan. Time has slipped through my fingers, and Amanda (not her real name, remember?) has already begun implementing some of the plan.  At the end of this post, I’ll share with you her interim results.

I won’t go through all the details, but some of the major recommendations were…

1. Her blog was being used very, very sporadically.  More frequent posts, occasionally speaking in the third person, would help (I probably should mention that this is David Leonhardt’s blog in every post and put my name in the Blog Title above as Amanda does, but I never put together a reputation management plan for myself!).  In fact, I recommended a post about herself, something I should do one of these days, too. This should secure a second listing in Google’s top 10 for her blog.

2. She owns the domain of her name, but it points to her blog.  I recommended developing her domain to include certain content that would help her get double listings Google’s top 10 for her name.

3. I suggested ways to make her two blogger profiles work to her advantage.

4. I suggested ways to boost the rankings also of a few of the various places where she has articles right now (or then) on the Internet.

5. I suggested a few places where she could build a good reputation directly, that could also rank highly in the search engines or support the rankings of her other pages.  For instance, I pointed out my pages at MySpace, Zaadz, Squidoo, MyBlogLog and TagWorld.  I haven’t done near enough with any of these, mind you, but I will.  Honest.

6. I also recommended a multi-faceted linking campaign, geared to the various types of pages Amanda was trying to boost in the rankings.

SEO Reputation Management Plan Progress report.

On Google’s top 10 right now…

1.  Amanda’s Blogger profile.  She has another Blogger profile, but it has not been worked on yet and it is not ranking.

2. Her blog.  She has been doing more posts, but not yet what is needed for a second page to rank.  I have offered some additional details.

3. One of the pages I mentioned in item #4 above.

4. and 5. A new appearance by another offensive blogger, posted two years ago. How these two postings got up in the rankings is anybody’s guess, but it is likely the result of something that happened sitewide (as opposed to something related to these two specific posts).  As the linking campaign kicks in, the two offensive posts should sink.

6. Amanda’s MySpace profile.  More can be done to make this a double listing.  Possibly.

7. Amanda’s under construction and 99% unoptimized site on her own-name domain.  When the site is finished, there should be two pages from this domain in the top 10.

8. and 9. Two more of the pages I mentioned in item #4 above.

10. Amanda’s MySpace page. More can be done to make this a double listing.  Definitely.  I’ve made some additional suggestions.

So there you have it.  Some promising interim results.  One can do much to manage one’s reputation using sound, responsible SEO techniques.

 

 

 

 

 


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This Blog Uses The DoFollow PlugIn

Thursday, February 15th, 2007

I love Loren Baker’s post on 13 Reasons Why NoFollow Tags Suck.  It goes right in line with my thinking when I posted the comments about Wikipedia and the NoFollow attribute, and the experiment to test the NoFollow attribute, with no stop-the-presses-results

I have said this many times before…the World Wide Web (www) works when linking is encouraged.  The Only One Orphan (ooo) works when linking is discouraged. Thanks to Loren for showing me the DoFollow WordPress Plugin.  If you post a comment here, you can be sure there will be no NoFollow attribute on your link.  

UPDATE February 2009: We have switched to the No Follow Free plugin, which seems to work better with the Intense Debate Plugin.  We have set the threshold at 5 comments.  So if you have commented more than five times, the DoFollow kckjs in…and no, firing off five quick comments all at one does not count.  This is a fully moderated blog.

 


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Testing the NoFollow Attribute II

Tuesday, February 13th, 2007

On February 5, I announced a test of the NoFollow attribute.  It seems that Google is still respecting it.  That’s good, I suppose.  But also too bad, given Wikipedia’s decision (see previous post).

 


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How Webmasters Harness Social Bookmarking for Success in 2007

Monday, February 12th, 2007

Most webmasters and website owners do not yet understand social bookmarking or how they can use it to increase their leads, their sales, their subscribers and even their repeat visitors.  This is a primer that every webmaster and blogger should read.

Everyone knows that a bookmark is a piece of paper that marks a page so you can find it easily again.  Most people know that a computer bookmark is a link on your computer that marks a web page so you can find it easily again. 

A social bookmark is link that marks a web page so you can find it easily again, but also so you can share it with others, usually by posting it to one of several dozen social-bookmarking websites.  For instance, I have accounts at del.icio.us, Simpy, Searchles and several others. 

If I was to post a bookmark to your web page at one of these sites, something magical would happen.

First, other members of the bookmarking site could view the link.  Then they could follow the link.  Then they could subscribe, view more, buy or whatever can be done at that page.  Then they could also bookmark the link.  Since many bookmarking people participate in several bookmarking sites. They might bookmark your page several times.  And they might even blog the link. 

The next magic happens when all this is amplified by the magic of search engines who see these very naturally-created (real votes, not phony link exchanges!) building up over time across numerous domains and in varying contexts.  The search engines are not stupid, and they are getting smarter every day at recognizing the difference between real and phony links.

The website which can attract social bookmarks has a clear advantage above those that don’t.

STOP THE PRESSES

Just last week, Google updated its algorithm, and webmasters should take note.  It’s new “personal search” algorithm includes social bookmarking even more specifically than in the ways I mentioned above.  Google can easily see which web pages have been bookmarked at — guess where? — Google Bookmarks

So you as a website owner or blogger have a very special interest in finding ways to encourage people to social bookmark your pages at Google Bookmarks and at public bookmarking websites.

HOW TO HARNESS SOCIAL BOOKMARKING OF YOUR WEBSITE

Bloggers have been doing this manually for some time, posting little icons for del.icio.us and Digg and ma.gnolia and others at the end of each post.  The idea is that users of each social bookmarking service will be prompted to bookmark the post, assuming the post has value. 

But doing this manually leaves a lot to be desired, consuming time and effort to set it up and stay current, as well as limitations.

So a few clever people came out with scripts to help automate the process (not the bookmarking itself, just the bookmarking links on the website).  The latest entry into this market is the free TheBookmarketer, which is better than the other “similar” scripts in five ways, as I outlined near the bottom of my previous blog post.

When you place a social bookmarking script on your website or blog, make sure to use it yourself.  Ask friends and family to, as well. Ask your newsletter subscribers and satisfied customers to social bookmark your pages, too. 

Remember, placing the simple snippet of code on your website might be an easy set-it-and-forget-it marketing tool, but it is not some automated “0 to 60 in 5.2″ magic wand.  It is just one tool in your arsenal, and it works best when you have something worthwhile for your visitors to bookmark.  It does not make your website great, but it does prompt your visitors to let other surfers, shoppers and the search engines know just how great your website is.

As ever day passes, social bookmarking becomes a more important factor in how people find the websites of interest to them.  Social bookmarking is both replacing and enhancing typical search engine activity, and no webmaster can afford to lose out on the incredible amount of traffic that social bookmarking sends, both directly and through the search engines. 

 


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