David Leonhardt’s SEO and Social Media Marketing

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

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Archive for the ‘Google’ Category

Hidden Text Trick

Thursday, October 25th, 2007

Every wonder how that image-only home page can outrank you for some pretty important search terms.  The typical advice you will get on forums and in articles is that it is all in the links – that the high-ranking page has more, better and more relevant links pointing from other web pages. 

But there might be something more sneaky and nefarious going on.  Check the source code.  Are there hundreds of words of text that do not appear on the page?  If so, go back to the page.  Where can they be, you can’t see them and there is no scrollbar to scroll any farther.  You highlight the page to see if any hidden text shows up and all of a sudden the page starts scrolling.  You see plenty of text.  And technically it’s not hidden, but it is tucked away where nobody would think to view, because the webmaster has deactivated the scrollbar.  Pretty sneaky.  But is this hidden text?

Technically, the text is very clearly visible, so it is not technically hidden.  On the other hand, a manual review of this site would reveal that there is spiderable text placed where most visitors would not know how to find.  I am willing to bet that a hidden text penalty would be issued to such a page.   

My advice is to report your competitor to Google, Yahoo, MSN and Ask right away.  And don’t even think about doing the same thing…because someone else might report you both! 

 


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Google still tops

Tuesday, September 25th, 2007

Who is the biggest search engine in the market?  That’s the one thing everyone agrees on: Google.  But beyond that, there are some significant differences in the data.  For instance, Nielson says that Google accounts for 54% of US searches, whereas Hitwise says they account for 64%.  That’s a big difference, although part of it might be explained byNielson separating out Google-based AOL’s marketshare at almost 6%. 

 Hitwise also gives a 3-point edge to Yahoo

The really big difference, however, is with MSN.  According to Hitwise, it has fallen by a third since last year to just under 8% of the market.  However, Nielson gives MSN a 13% market share.  In either case, the questions raised in 2006 of whether a rising Ask would surpass a falling MSN in 2007 seem to be laid to rest, as MSN commands over double the marketshare of Ask in both ratings.

What does this mean for you and your SEO plans?  Google is still where the big traffic lies.  Yahoo no longer commands close to a third of the marketshare – more like one fifth.  Don’t ignore MSN.

 


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Reciprocal Linking Versus Triangular Linking

Monday, August 13th, 2007

When emails like this come from amateurs it’s one thing, but when they come from so-called SEO professionals… 

I came across your site ( http://www.seo-writer.com )  whilst searching for potential link partners for a client site I am currently promoting (name withheld to protect her innocent client). My client’s site is thematically relevant to your own without being competitive.

I would be more than happy to offer you a quality one-way link from our site ( name withheld, well, just out of politeness) in return for a one-way link from your site to my client’s site (from a page with a minimum pagerank of 2+). This linking arrangement avoids reciprocal linking which Google has devalued, giving instead a more valuable one-way link.

Google devalued reciprocal linking?  This is news to me.  What Google has devalued is unnatural linking patterns – anything that can be recognized as a plain attempt to fiddle with their rankings.  If all your links are reciprocal, well, that’s a pretty unnatural linking pattern.  On the other hand, if all your links are triangular, that’s an even more unnatural linking pattern.  What’s more, whereas reciprocal linking can be for traffic reasons and/or better search engine rankings, triangular linking is a pretty transparent attempt to control Google’s rankings.   

To sum up, here is how I responded to this so-called SEO: 

That myth about reciprocal linking is certainly getting around.  It’s basically bunk.  If you follow natural linking patterns, Google will love you.  Triangular linking is less natural than reciprocal linking.  Anyway, this particular arrangement doesn’t interest me.

Best of luck.

 


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Managing an X-rated reputation

Wednesday, July 11th, 2007

First, this post is not what you think it it.  By the way, just what do you think it is?

This post os about My Aunt Is Hot, a blog with a stated purpose to manage the reputation of the blogger’s family name.  It seems that his “aunt” stole his name (Ziering) and he wants it back: www.MyAuntIsHot.com – Because Ziering on Google doesn’t have to be porno.

It’s actually a story worth reading.  However, I did a Google search for Ziering and so far the aunt is still hot and the blog is not.  It looks like Mr Ziering could use a fair amount of SEO to reach his stated goals.  In the meantime, at least he is having fun with the concept…and I like that.

 


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HitTail – long tail keyword research

Tuesday, June 19th, 2007

Not long ago I blogged about Crazy Egg Website Conversion Tests, which I thought was a pretty neat little tool.

One of our readers suggested trying HitTail, which is certainly not the same thing, but is very, very useful for anyone trying to learn something about a website’s visitors.  It is a long-tail keyword research tool.

While I am logging in to HitTail, I should explain that this requires placing a little snippet of code in the template of your website, to capture every visitor landing on every page of your site.  Now that I am logged in, let me describe to you what I see…

The first view “search hits” shows the last 15 visitors from the search engines and the exact date and time..real time coverage of the crowds moving through this website (except the blog; I just realized that I did not place the HitTail code in the blog template, so I will add that to my to-do list).  For each visit, the search URL is provided, clickable so that I can visit the actual search (to see where my website ranks for that search, for example).  Hmm…a search for SEO tips at Google and it appears we are #4.  Not bad!  Note that the keywords searched are actually highlighted so that it is ever so much easier to see than in regular log files.

I switch now to the “keywords” view, and the same information is provided in even easier to read  format, listing each keyword and the engine it comes from.  This time if you click on the keyword, you can move it into the “suggestion” view, for later consideration.

My favorite mode is to use the Excel option, so that I can manipulate the data, group some of the long tail search terms, and mark them in various ways.  From a practical perspective, it seems that a lot of people are getting to my site using queries with the words “hire” and “looking”.  So if those search terms are getting me traffic, and I am only in the top 20 somewhere for those search terms, maybe I could tweak my pages, build a few keyword-targeted links, and increase my traffic measurably. 

I should note that the account is free, but HitTail also offers paid subscription services for enterprise websites and those who want to crunch some serious numbers.  But for the average website owner, the free subscription will do fine.

 


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Google cracking down on paid links

Tuesday, June 12th, 2007

First, let me preface this post by saying there is nothing wrong with buying paid links, regardless of what Google says or what you think Google says.  Paid links are called advertising.  “Free” links, which are never actually free, are called public relations.  This has been going on since someone in ancient Egypt first wrote a sandwich board reading “The End is near” and someone else asked, “How much to add ‘Reserve your burial plots today!’”

However, Google does not appreciate links sold strictly to boost PageRank, specifically targeting its ranking algorithm.  This is understandable.

So what is a website owner, intent on promoting his website and his services, to do?  Go for the best links possible, whether they are paid or free, sticking within budget.  If most of your links are paid, that sends quite a red flag that maybe there is nothing on your website of enough value to actually earn links.  In fact, that in itself is a pretty good case for Google to demote your website in its rankings.

On the other hand, if there is a website that could be sending you some targeted traffic, that can show high relevance and offers good link juice, why not pay for the link?  Google will not penalize you for having bought a link or two; Google will penalize you for trying to purchase a re-arrangement of its listings.

 


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Google Search Engine Ranking Factors Report

Wednesday, April 25th, 2007

SEOMoz has come out with some superb information once again that every SEO specialist and every webmaster should read.  The Google Search Engine Ranking Factors Report summarizes the opinion of all the top SEO specialists (except me…hmmm, I guess I am not quiote at the top yet), many of whom I personally admire.  The report rates various factors for their importance to Google rankings.

Below is the lsit of the top 10 most important factors, according to these esteemed SEO specialists.  I would probably rate the factors in a similar order.

 

 

 


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Google Full-steam Ahead

Tuesday, April 24th, 2007

The numbers are in from Compete.com, which shows that Google is building an even bigger marketshare than ever before.  Check out this chart posted on the Compete blog: 

 

 

Google is everything, of course, but it comes pretty close.  Remember when John Lennon said the Beatles were more popular then Jesus?  Well, I wonder if somebody at the Googleplex will feel tempted to cause the same stir again.

From a more practical standpoint, this means that a top spot at Yahoo is probably worth about the same as a #2 or #3 spot at Google for the same search term.  Don’t laugh – even a top spot at Ask for a high-converting search term is worth the effort.  But Google is unquestionably the jackpot.

And for everyone who criticizes Google for what they do to try to keep their results relevant, you can’t argue with success.

 


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My Right to Google Rankings

Tuesday, April 17th, 2007

I have the right to Google.  After all, I pay taxes to Google, don’t I?  And the Constitution says that I have rights to Goiogle rankings, doesn’t it?

Is it just me, or is this how most websmasters think?  The laters kerfuffle (is that how you spell it?  Is kerfuffle even a word?) began when Google’s webmaster liason Matt Cutts blogged that people should report paid links to help Google develop ways to reduce the skewing effect of paid links in their search results. 

Quite frankly, it’s a little silly to expect most people to go along with this, and Matt could probably find plenty on his own, but he  apparently wants some outside feedback to catch what he might have missed.  So what?  It’s his right to ask in his blog for any kind of feedback he wishes, just as it is my right to ask for any feedback I wish.  It’s up to people to decide whether they wish to provide that feedback.  Nobody is obliged to report anything.

But the debate is raging strong at Threadwatch and at WebProWorld.  Here are a few of the incredible things people are saying:

“Isn’t this somewhat hypocritical? Doesn’t Google sell links through AdWords?”
 

“It’s alright to sell links just as long as we’re the ones selling them. That’s the message I’ve been getting loud and clear from Google.”
 

“If I want to buy a link to generate traffic (not caring about SEO) or I want to sell a link because people want my traffic, who is Google to tell me I can’t or my site will be punished.”
 

“We don’t owe Google anything. Google owes us everything!”
 

Adwords are paid links, but they do not affect the content of anyone else’s site without their consent.  If I sell links on my site, it absolutely affects the content on Google’s site, so they have every reason to be concerned.  They have no right to stop me from selling links, but they have every reason to want to control for the effects those paid links would have on their results…which is what they are hoping to do. (Google is not threatening to punish any site.)
 

How about this comment:
 

“I think Google should show us the alternatives if they don’t want us to go down the paid link route.”
 

Considering that I have been doing SEO for , what 3 or 4 years now without buying almost (I said “almost”) any links, I think we all know how many linking alternatives there are.
And now there is an article by  iEntry CEO Rich Ord, 7 Reasons Google’s Paid Link Snitch Plan Sucks, that panders to the congregation (although at least his arguements make a little more sense, except for #6: The hypocrisy of being in the business of selling links and then asking others not to sell them is a bit much for many webmasters.

Here is my take:  It is my business and mine alone whether I sell links or not, and mine and mine alone whether I buy links or not.  It is Google’s business and Google’s business alone to decide which links, if any, will form part of its algorithm calculations.  And as much as everybody seems to think they own Google, they do not.  It might be silly or even useless to ask people to report paid links, but the vitriol and false entitlement are clearly  misplaced.

Here is my take:  It is my business and mine alone whether I sell links or not, and mine and mine alone whether I buy links or not.  It is Google’s business and Google’s business alone to decide which links, if any, will form part of its algorithm calculations.  And as much as everybody seems to think they own Google, they do not.  It might be silly or even useless to ask people to report paid links, but the vitriol and false entitlement are clearly  misplaced.

 


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Tips for Mining Google’s Backlink Data

Wednesday, April 4th, 2007

Since Google SiteMaps expanded to Google Webmaster Central, webmasters have some interesting new tools at their disposal.  One of those is the backlink checker.

It is widespread knowledge that a search for backlinks in Google brings back results that are pretty much useless.  I have yet to hear a single SEO specialist offer even a theory about the algorithm for such a search.  For the past year, Yahoo has been offering a much improved backing search. 

Of course, most webmasters know who links to them when they post to directories or engage in a link partnership with another website. But after a few months on the Web, most actively promoted websites of any discernable quality start attracting inbound links unbeknownst to the webmaster.  Google Webmaster Central now reveals those links, on a page-by-page basis.  Here are some ways that you can mine the data Google gives you:

  • Find out which pages are being linked to…you might have link-bait without knowing it.  For instance, if you have attracted three links to an article that you never even promoted, that’s a good sign that maybe you should promote the article; it is obviously of interest.
  • When you find a page that has attracted unsuspected links, review that page and develop a plan to create similar pages with similar characteristics that would also be of interest to other website owners who might link to your site without prompting.
  • Another thing to do when you find unexpected links to a certain page is to capitalize on the link strength of the page and optimize it for additional search terms (or optimize it for any search terms if this had not already been done). 
  • Find out who is linking to you.  There might be sites that come as a surprise.  If you see some sites that had unexpectedly link to you, search Google for similar sites, because they might also want to link to you..
  • Look who is linking to what pages on your site.  Perhaps there are other pages that would interest them.  If another site links to ten pages on your site, that’s better than linking to just one, right?
  • If you post articles to various article directories, this is a great way to find out who else has picked up your articles without your knowledge, and submit future articles directly to them.  For instance, I have many of my articles listed at David Leonhardt’s Idea Marketers Profile

Yahoo is still your best tool for competitive link intelligence, because Google Webmaster Central gives you information only on sites you have verified as belonging to you.  Together, these are two very powerful webmaster tools.

 


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