David Leonhardt’s SEO and Social Media Marketing

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

THE HAPPY GUY MARKETING

 

Archive for April, 2008

Yahoo and web design quality

Wednesday, April 30th, 2008

A recent patent application by Yahoo makes it clear that it has plans to look at the quality of a web page in terms of layout and design as part of its ranking algorithm.  Careful – I did not say that it does or it will, just that it has plans.Yahoo’s reasoning is solid.  A web page that is full of clutter, where it’s hard to find where to go, if not a page that will please the searcher.  And Yahoo, like all search engines, wants to please the searcher.In its patent application, Yahoo lists 52 elements it might consider when deciding whether a web page is cluttered or not.

  • Total number of links
  • Total number of words
  • Total number of images (non-ad images)
  • Image area above the fold (non-ad images)
  • Dimensions of page
  • Page area (total)
  • Page length
  • Total number of tables
  • Maximum table columns (per table)
  • Maximum table rows (per table)
  • Total rows
  • Total columns
  • Total cells
  • Average cell padding (per table)
  • Average cell spacing (per table)
  • Dimensions of fold
  • Fold area
  • Location of center of fold relative to center of page
  • Total number of font sizes used for links
  • Total number of font sizes used for headings
  • Total number of font sizes used for body text
  • Total number of font sizes
  • Presence of “tiny” text
  • Total number of colors (excluding ads)
  • Alignment of page elements
  • Average page luminosity
  • Fixed vs. relative page width
  • Page weight (proxy for load time)
  • Total number of ads
  • Total ad area
  • Area of individual ads
  • Area of largest ad above the fold
  • Largest ad area
  • Total area of ads above the fold
  • Page space allocated to ads
  • Total number of external ads above the fold
  • Total number of external ads below the fold
  • Total number of external ads
  • Total number of internal ads above the fold
  • Total number of internal ads below the fold
  • Total number of internal ads
  • Number of sponsored link ads above the fold
  • Number of sponsored link ads below the fold
  • Total number of sponsored link ads
  • Number of image ads above the fold
  • Number of image ads below the fold
  • Total number of image ads
  • Number of text ads above the fold
  • Number of text ads below the fold
  • Total number of text ads
  • Position of ads on page

 This is actually a superb website review checklist.  Go through your website and see how it stacks up on most of these items.  Keep in mind that there are reasons you might want to violate some of these principles, but in general you would want your website to meet most of these criteria in order to please your visitors and convert them into customers.  And soon, you might also please Yahoo.

 


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REALITY CHECK – one way links

Thursday, April 24th, 2008

It seems I have been encountering an awful lot of doctrine at webmaster forums recently about the high value of one-way links or the low value of link exchanges.  This is a myth, based on those people who engage in what the search engines view as “unnatural” linking patters.  If most of your links come from reciprocation, then it stands to reason that your website does not have a lot of value, or else it should get lots of links based on the quality of its content or its usefulness.

But if your links come from a wide variety of sources and in a wide variety of formats, there is no truth to the myth that a link exchange is worth less than a one-way link.  When faced with Internet marketing issues, it is often worth doing a reality check.  What would you do to promote your business in the real world?

Suppose you owned a tourist attraction and you wanted to place your brochure in the lobby of a local hotel. The hotel might say:

  • Great. That’s a wonderful service to my visitors.
  • No problem. That will be $50 a month.
  • Sure, if I can place my brochure on your counter (like a link exchange!)
  • OK, if you give me a season’s pass.

Does it matter which way you get the brochure (link) into the lobby (webpage)?  No.  What counts is that you are where your target market can see you.  And that is what counts with link-building.  Find the p[laces you want to be seen by real people and by the search engines and get your site listed there in whatever way you can.

A note about paid links.  Google do not like paid links.  But does that mean it is wrong to buy a link if that’s what it takes to be where you want to be?  No, that is just good marketing.  But it does help to understand what Google is doing.

Google does not care how you do your marketing.  Google does care that the public perceives it as the most useful search engine.  Google is a business, just like you, and the customer is always right.  To keep customers coming back, Google has a very complex and carefully balanced ranking algorithm. Who is ranked at what position is a moot point to Google, but if the overall integrity of its results is placed at risk, Google has to take action.  The massive purchasing of paid links on high PageRank websites, often irrelevant to the topic of the link, has the potential of skewing Google’s results.  For that reason, these are not looked on favorably.

I do not recommend as a matter of practice that you buy or lease irrelevant links to boost PageRank.  I do not recommend that paid links be a major portion of your linking campaign.  And I do not recommend you buy links where there are a dozen other paid links all together.  But if there is a relevant link that you want and the price is money, I do recommend that you don’t feel obliged to keep your money in your pocket.

One way or link exchanges.  Barter or paid.  Three way or five way linking.  Do whatever it takes to get the highest quality, relevant links to your website.

 


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Mature Domains – Ranking Advantage at Google

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008

Those of us who have been paying attention new about the importance of domain maturity already a couple years ago.  But it looks like 2008 might be the year that the webmaster community starts to realize the importance of the issue, with Google’s United States Patent Application: 0080086467 being publicized.

The bottom line is that it is to your advantage to hold a domain that has been around — and in your ownership — for several years.  Maturity counts, and SEO gets easier as your domain ages.  It is also to your advantage to see links from mature domains, although I don’t think I would waste time checking the ages of every domain I hoped to get a link from (more on this in a moment).

Why are mature domains better?  Like so many things, especially on the Internet where much is ephemeral, a mature domain has stood the test of time and therefore is more likely than average to provide useful information or services.  An established domain is much, much less likely to be a spam site set up to turn a quick profit and disappear.  The bottom line is that a mature domain is more likely to be a trustworthy one.

And trust is what it is about.  When Google sends traffic to your site, it is placing trust in the site.  Maturity is one way Google can measure trust.  However, it is far from the only way.  PageRank is another.   There are likely dozens of measures of trust that Google employs, which is why I would not waste my time checking domain age.  A much better trust test is too see how well a site ranks for its own target search phrases.  If it ranks well, Google must trust it at least a fair amount, and therefore it is a good website to be associated with.

 


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5 Reasons to Shorten Your URLs

Wednesday, April 16th, 2008

Here is a great list of reasons why you would want to shorten your URLs.  Here is the abridged version of the list, but the link above gives a more detailed explanation, well-thought out and pretty obvious for anyone trying to spread their website by means other than links. 

  • Avoid broken links in your emails/messenger text
  • Save characters in your SMS
  • Tell others your links via phone
  • Hide your affiliate links
  • Much better for audio recirdings or repeating the URL over the phone

 


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Location of Google Data Centers

Tuesday, April 15th, 2008

Hang around any webmaster forum long enough and you will run into the newbie question, “How come I don’t see the same results as my friend in San Francisco or Mexico City?” And the predictable answer, “Because Google serves up slightly different results from different data centers” or “Because Google has updated one of its data centers earlier than another, so just be patient until it updates all its data centers”.

But exactly where are these data centers. Today I present you with some clues, and I will explain why I use the word “clues”.

Here is a map of all the Google data centers around the world:
World map of Google data centers

Here is a map of the Google data centers in North America (Yes, there is one in Canada):
Google data centers in USA

And for our European readers, here is a map of data centers in Europe, from Russia to Ireland:
Google data centers in Europe

These maps were found through an interesting blog post on Google data centers at Pingdom.  These maps are based on a data center list at Data Center Knowledge.

Interestingly, when you search Google Maps, here is what it shows:


View Larger Map 

Just another example of the search engines not delivering their own information as well as they deliver others’?

 


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Deep Links in Bloggeries

Thursday, April 10th, 2008

With all the tempting examples of silly things we see on the Internet, not to mention pure stupidity, it is sometimes easy to overlook those who do things right.  Such an example is Bloggeries Blog Directory .  This is a mid-priced paid directory specifically for blogs.

First, they give you a link in the category listings, as 99% of directories do.

Then, they give you a details page, which maybe about 2% of directories do.  This is nice, because it is a page that is totally optimized for your website.  If the page has any link juice at all, it is a good page to have a link from.  This blog is listed here: David Leonhardt’s SEO Marketing Express.

Third, they offer deep links.  Now you have surely heard me expound upon the benefits of deep linking.  Directories I am involved with, such as WV Travel and DevDream, not only feature listings on multiple pages, but also include the option of up to three deep links for each listing.  Well, Bloggeries have outdone me on this.  Look at our listing again, and you will see they offer three deep links, and they also include links to our most recent posts across the middle of the page, thanks to the magic of RSS.

On top of that, they have a forum that is quite busy and one incentive to participate is that they provide backlinks in your signature line plus a link to the post you wrote (which is a great enticement for people to visit your blog, so write provocative titles!)

This really was not intended to be a review of Bloggeries, as much as another chance to talk about deep links.  But I suppose plans change.  :-)

 


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Yahoo Violating NoFollow Attribute?

Wednesday, April 9th, 2008

The nofollow attribute is supposed to mean no follow.  More specifically, the major search engines have committed to not following any link that has a nofollow attribute attached.  So why do we see Yahoo following links from comments in Matt Cutts blog?  Here is an example of where Yahoo’s SiteExplorer lists at least two comments in blog posts as backlinks: https://siteexplorer.search.yahoo.com/advsearch?p=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.seobuzzbox.com&bwm=i&bwmo=d&bwmf=u

Check the source code in the blog:

<a href=’http://www.seobuzzbox.com’ rel=’external nofollow’>Aaron Pratt</a>

Here is another example:  https://siteexplorer.search.yahoo.com/advsearch?p=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.thinkseer.com&bwm=i&bwmo=d&bwmf=u

Do those links factor into Yahoo’s algorithm?  Who knows?  But just the fact that they are being reported…

Saaaaayy … this wouldn’t be one of those tricks to mess with webmasters’ minds, would it?  Like that silly green PageRank bar that means so little and has cost so many sleepless nights and missed link exchanges?

I would love to hear your opinions on this. 
  

 


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Don’t Waste “Useless” Traffic

Monday, April 7th, 2008

Not everybody has this happy problem, but many websites get traffic they cannot use because it serves only a narrow spectrum of people who arrive from a broader search.  People do a search for a broad search, such as “marketing gimmicks” at Google or Yahoo, find your web page about a very specific marketing gimmick for real estate agents, discover that the website does not address their needs to market beauty products or metal bending or accounting, and they go.

Wait.  Stop.  Where do they go?  Back to the search engine?  No, no, no, no. 

From an SEO perspective, you don’t want to send the search engines the message that your page was a poor choice to rank well for the search term “marketing gimmicks”.  If that happens, the search engines might just demote your rank, and you will love the good prospects with the “useless” traffic.  We have no evidence that the search engines are factoring bounceback data into their algorithms, but we do know they are capable and have an interest in doing so.   It’s coming.

Of more immediate concern is all that hard-earned traffic that could be buying something from you is just leaving without spending a penny.  What a shame!  In a case like that, it would be worth having a very prominent affiliate link to a website that sells a broader marketing package with a text like “More Surefire marketing Gimmicks Here”. The result would be to convert some of the “useless” traffic, and to both reduce the bounceback rates and increase the bounceback lag time of those who do go back to Google.
 

 


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SEO Results Are Not Predictable

Friday, April 4th, 2008

How long does it take to see results from SEO efforts?  This, roughly, is a question that almost every potential client asks.  Similar questions have been asked: 

  • How long does it take for grass to grow?
  • How far is “over there”?
  • How big is big?

As soon as you make an SEO-related improvement to a page, you have results…well, at least as soon as Google finds the change, indexes it and feeds it into the calculations that go into ordering web pages for the search term in question.  But moving form #1,893,027 to #1,783,446 at Google is not “results” in terms of what we usually think of.  In fact, moving to #31 is not even results if you check the top-30 rankings for your web page, although it is a sign that your SEO campaign is working and should continue to work if you keep plugging away.

A better question, would be how long it takes to get into the top 10, or the top 5 or the #1 spot for a particular search term.

Unfortunately, this is also hard to predict, especially as one gets closer to the top.  I try not to even provide an estimate past top-10, because it is hard to honestly do this.  There are just so many factors to consider, even if we assume the search engine algorithms, which we can only guess at, don’t change in the meantime:

  • How well optimized the top 10, 20 or 30 web pages already are.
  • How much effort the top 10,20 or 30 web page owners are putting in
  • How successful you will be at attracting links

There is also this little matter of how the search engines like to mess with our minds.  Like one client who has been for the past several days bouncing back and forth between position #2 and position #13, and at this moment is at #1 for its top search phrase.  I suspect it will settle around #8 to #10 in a few days, but who knows?

Predicting success is a tricky think in SEO as in any other sport.  We have a strong team, but at what point in the year do we know we will make the playoffs and how far will we get this season?  That is a question one can answer only with hindsight.

 


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