David Leonhardt’s SEO and Social Media Marketing

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Archive for August, 2008

SEO Secret – how to get more value from your SEO consultant

Friday, August 29th, 2008

One of our SEO clients is getting more than her money’s worth.  In fact, I should be charging her gobs more money than I am, but she is getting a whole lot extra work for free. 

How does she do it?  Am I a sucker?  Maybe I am, but there is a method to her madness, even if she does not know it.

You see, the biggest complaint from professional SEO consultants is that clients do not follow up on their recommendations.  A company might pay anywhere form $1000 to $50,000 for an SEO consultant to review their website and make recommendations, ready to follow up with additional action, but… but… but…nothing happens.  In one survey of SEOs, 60% were frustrated by lack of follow-up by the client.  This not only wastes the company’s consulting dollars, but it often prevents the SEO consultant from doing anything further to advance the company’s rankings.

My client, the one I mentioned above, is just the opposite.  She eagerly seeks out information and I swear she passes what we call in French “nuits blanches” (look it up) following through and coming back with more questions, ideas and follow-through.  It makes her project exciting and, yes, she gets more out of me than she is paying for.

You know that old adage “You get out of life what you put in”?  It works for SEO consultants, too…at least those who get passionate about what they are doing.  So my question for anyone reading this who plans to hire an SEO consultant, are you passionate about your website?  Will you get your SEO consultant to be just as passionate about it?

 


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New Google RankCheck Tool is Released!

Wednesday, August 27th, 2008

Just kidding.  There is no new Google RankCheck tool.  But there should be.  A couple days ago, I reported on how Google has finally blocked automated searches by software such as WebPosition.  This creates a vacuum in the marketplace – a vacuum best filled by…Google!

Yes, I think Google should announce a new GoogleCheck tool, and here is why. 

Google says that automated rank-checking tools should be avoided because it taxes Google’s servers.  OK, let’s take this argument at face value.  Automated checking does add a tremendous volume to the number of searches.  I gave an example the other day of how one website adds 1200 searches.  If that is done responsibly once every 4 – 6 weeks, ad there are a mere 1000 websites searching, the burden is not too big, especially if most of the searches are happening at off-hours when Google’s servers are underused.  However, if 100,000 websites are doing automated searches every day during peak usage hours, perhaps digging deeper into the SERPs, that could start taxing Google’s servers.

Let’s further assume that Google has a hidden agenda.  Let’s assume it does not like automated rank checking because people are getting a free ride from Google – conducting billions of searches without ever visiting Google and being exposed to paid search advertising.  Let’s face it, why should Google give away huge volumes of free search to webmasters without requiring them to view the PPC ads that bring in Google’s revenues?

So how would Google RankCheck help Google?

First, Google could control when and how automated searches occurred.  It could, for instance queue the automated searches for the next available down turn in bandwidth usage, or it could simply schedule it at an appropriate hour.  Problem solved.

Second, it could make money, which is what a corporation like Google is supposed to do.  Instead of giving away tons of free search to webmasters who don’t even visit Google to make the searches, Google could sell the software.  An official Google RankCheck tool would sell much, much better than Web Position.  Google could make a beautiful case, too:

“We are in search.  Manual search of one phrase at a time is free to everyone, including webmasters checking how they rank.  However, if you want to conduct bulk searches, you can purchase Google RankCheck for a modest fee.”

There would be advantages for webmasters, too.  Google could give people the option of viewing rankings in various locales.  For instance, if I want to see how my website is ranking in San Francisco, Chicago and Miami, I could specify that (you know how Google results differ from place to place).

Perhaps there are other advantages for Google or for webmasters.  Why not share your thoughts on that with readers by posting your comment below.

 


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Google Blocks Automated Rank Checking

Monday, August 25th, 2008

Google has been threatening…er, promising to block rank-checking software such as WebPosition for years, and even mentions them by name in their webmaster guidelines.  It seems like Google has finally decided to honor its promise and block the software.

I was last able to check rankings on August 22.  Since then, nada.  A quick survey around the Web and it sounds like a lot of other people found their automated ranking checks were blocked on August 1, August 5 or August 7.

What does this mean for SEO?  Quite a lot…and amazingly little.

 It means that we cannot check dozens of keywords quickly and painlessly.  Manually checking 50 search phrases for, let’s say, a dozen clients, often going onto the second or third page of Google means…let’s see…1200 manual searches.  Suppose there are two dozen clients.  Suppose there are 100 search terms.  You can do the math and see how time consuming this would be.

However, let us for a moment suppose that we don’t do 1200 manual searches every month.  Suppose instead we do occasional searches to see where a client stands for a few major search phrases?  Or we check different searches on different months as we focus the campaign on different sub-niches?  What if we invest more effort in building rankings than in measuring them?

Yes, we do need to measure.  We need to know if we are moving forward.  We need to be able to show clients roughly the magnitude of the progress.  But perhaps we will be using a smaller basket of keywords and letting the long tail take care of itself.

For me, the main use of rank-checking across a broad range of search phrases was to determine which search phrases or family of search phrases need more focus as we ride the surf of algorithm changes, renewed competition and other happenings.

Of course, clients also require reporting…which we will no longer be able to do to the same level as we had been doing.  So the immediate effect is that over the next month or so, I need to budget a few hours to explain to clients why lists of ranking positions can no longer be the way to measure progress.

 


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BrowseRank Goes Beyond PageRank

Monday, August 18th, 2008

I am just back from vacation and wading through three weeks of emails, but while I was gone a story broke that I just can’t let pass.  You might have heard me say it before, but sooner or later the search engines will shift their algorithms from focusing just on relevance and importance to include a third pillar: usefulness. 

This story entitled Microsoft Talks about BrowseRank Beyond PageRank shows that Microsoft is well on it’s way to developing just such an algorithm.  The article mentions a few ways a search engine can determine how useful searchers find a result, but there are more that are not mentioned in the article.

  1. Click-thru rates.
  2. Number of people who bounce back to the search page.
  3. Time before a person bounces back.
  4. Number of pages a user visits before bouncing back.
  5. Time spent on the specific page clicked.
  6. Whether the person bothered to scroll down on the page.

Of course, people like me would totally mess up the algorithm; I leave my windows open forever.  And if you think that user behavior is hard to manipulate, think again.  Usability will be now more important for SEO, but also will be coaxing users to spend more time on the website and go deeper in.

But the biggest change we will see is that website owners will have to focus on not letting their visitors bounce back to Google.  Suddenly having links to other useful sites will be a good thing, to the dismay of so many website owners who are terrified of placing a link to anybody else, for fear they might bleed customers, PageRank or both.

As all user search engines move into measuring user behavior, new strategies will be required.  I will report on some of those shortly.

Stay tuned… 

 


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