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

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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The Silly Myth About Reciprocal Links

Monday, April 2nd, 2007

“I would like to exchange links with you to maximize Page Rank on Google for both of us, but it is important not to link to the same site – they need to be different sites to count on Google” 

It’s not the first time some linking email message lectures me about how Google ignores reciprocal links.  Of course, that’s total phony bologna.  Google values links based on their value, not on whether the other site links back.  It is actually a very natural thing for two sites in the same niche to link to each other.  It is also good marketing to exchange visible links with non-competing, related websites.  And it is totally legitimate to show visitors and search engines alike that you are related in topic to another website that Google might also value.  Google has no interest in discounting legitimate reciprocal linking. What Google does want and even need to discount are links set up to mess up its results.  All links built solely for the purpose of cooking Google’s results are therefore discouraged.  Those that are aggressive enough to skew Google’s results must be stopped.  Google has that obligation, otherwise it will lose its clientele. In case you, too, are tired of receiving such misinformed emails, here is how I just responded to one: 

“I think you have been taken for a bit of a ride by some way-too-clever SEO charlatan who thinks that reciprocal linking is being penalized or discounted by Google.  At best, three-way link exchanges add some variation amidst two-way link exchanges; at worst, the search engines (who can easily read such schemes) would read this as an attempt to scam them.  I personally don’t think it makes a hill of beans difference whether there are two-way or three-way exchanges.  I do what makes sense for each website.”       

 

 

 


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Google’s In-text Ads

Thursday, March 22nd, 2007

We have word now that Google is planning to sell ads mid-paragraph on websites.  AdWords currently appear only in separate sections of a web page. 

The first reaction to this has been negative.  Although I say this cautiously, the development makes sense. 

We all know that Google’s organic listings value an inbound link within a paragraph on a content page more than a directory style listing. 

Why? 

Think, think… 

Because in the middle of a paragraph sounds so much more real.  It just looks like somebody is really referencing or recommending that link in that very context, as opposed to just one of many links on a list that might be more or less relevant to something or other. 

The same holds true for advertising.  An in-text ad link says that this product is relevant to what the reader is reading.  It’s being where your customer is, which is always a good thing. 

Of course, one must ask whether the customer likes this.  If you ask him, he will say “no”.  But he persists in reading “free” web pages that somebody takes the time to post, so his actions say that he does.  Every now and then, a subscriber to my “free” Daily Dose of Happiness ezine complains about the ads.  If that subscriber was paying a buck a month, he would have every right to complain.  I wonder if he cheerfully goes about his job, refusing his pay check every two weeks.  I think not. 

Google’s idea to put ads in the text, labeled as Google Ads in the pop-up bubble, seems to me to be a good move.  It certainly will not look as awful and ugly as the current Google ads marring more websites than I can count.  

But I am not 100% sold on this view.  Maybe there is a good reason to oppose this.  Let me know what you think.  

 

 

 

 

 


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Google’s In-text Ads

Thursday, March 22nd, 2007

We have word now that Google is planning to sell ads mid-paragraph on websites.  AdWords currently appear only in separate sections of a web page. 

The first reaction to this has been negative.  Although I say this cautiously, the development makes sense. 

We all know that Google’s organic listings value an inbound link within a paragraph on a content page more than a directory style listing. 

Why? 

Think, think… 

Because in the middle of a paragraph sounds so much more real.  It just looks like somebody is really referencing or recommending that link in that very context, as opposed to just one of many links on a list that might be more or less relevant to something or other. 

The same holds true for advertising.  An in-text ad link says that this product is relevant to what the reader is reading.  It’s being where your customer is, which is always a good thing. 

Of course, one must ask whether the customer likes this.  If you ask him, he will say “no”.  But he persists in reading “free” web pages that somebody takes the time to post, so his actions say that he does.  Every now and then, a subscriber to my “free” Daily Dose of Happiness ezine complains about the ads.  If that subscriber was paying a buck a month, he would have every right to complain.  I wonder if he cheerfully goes about his job, refusing his pay check every two weeks.  I think not. 

Google’s idea to put ads in the text, labeled as Google Ads in the pop-up bubble, seems to me to be a good move.  It certainly will not look as awful and ugly as the current Google ads marring more websites than I can count.  

But I am not 100% sold on this view.  Maybe there is a good reason to oppose this.  Let me know what you think.  

 

 

 

 

 


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Social Networks Can Drive Traffic

Friday, March 9th, 2007

For anyone who missed my post on how one of my websites is now getting more traffic from MySpace than from Google, it’s not just me!  Check out this post from Heather Hopkins of Hitwise UK.

She reports excellent growth in traffic from MySapce and Bebo in this case study.

 


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A brand-new SEO scam

Friday, March 9th, 2007

This SEO scam is so new that it hasn’t even begun yet, at least not to my knowledge.  I don’t want to give SEO scammers ideas, but I am 100% certain that this is coming and that there will be many, many, many (did I mention “many”?) unsuspecting webmasters who will fall for it, so let’s for once get the warnings about the scam out there before it begins. 

Google’s new personalized search has already begun, and within months it will start to skew Google’s rankings in two ways.  

First, data Google gathers about how people are searching will certainly start to be factored into the general algorithm.  This means that on-page relevancy and inbound links will have to share the stage with such factors as click-through rates, click-back rates (back to Google from the site), length of visit, number of pages viewed, repeat visits, etc.  In other words, Google will be better able to measure “good” content from trash.  

A whole industry will sprout up to help webmasters take advantage of this, much of it black hat (like click fraud, perhaps?), some white hat, mostly to create more “sticky” content, improve click-through rates and encourage people to “vote” in some way for the site. On the white hat side, TheBookmarketer can help you move ahead right away, as I reported in this post on how to use social bookmarking to a website’s advantage

Second, the data it collects from each individual will be used to present more personalized results to that individual.  Exactly how this will work remains to be seen, as there are many ways that Google has hinted it can factor the information into a person’s individual results.  But one thing is for certain…as soon as SEO scammers get a sense of some of the factors that affect personalized results, the scamming will begin.  Here is exactly what the scammers will do:  

1. The scammer will tell the website owner to sign up for a Google account.  

2. The scammer will tell the webmaster to “visit your website every day” or “visit at least ten pages of your site in succession every day” or “Google bookmark your website” or “do the following ten searches and click on your site from the rankings every day”.  The precise instructions will depend on the factors that most influence personal search.  

3. The scammer will promise that the website owner will see his site move up in the rankings.  And he will see it move up in the rankings.  But only on his computer using his personalized search.  Even if his website shows up as #1 for “broken glass”, none of the broken-glass-buying market might even see his site in their results. 

This scam won’t fool everybody.  It is most likely to work on the little guy, who operates from one computer and would not think to compare results.  It might not work forever, but what scammer will stick around to argue the finer points once he’s sucked the money out of an unsuspecting website owner’s pockets? 

Google will surely take steps to reduce this in order to protect the integrity of its results (remember the searcher is whom Google must please), but like every game of locks and lock-pickers, there will be plenty of scams flying under Google’s radar or keeping one step ahead. 

The best protection a webmaster has against this sort of scam is to include mention of it in passing in every article posted on the Internet about personal search.  Hopefully not too many webmasters will miss it before hiring an SEO scammer.  And that’s why today I am outing the scammers before they even start!

 


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Links are about more than just search engines

Tuesday, March 6th, 2007

I just took a look at the referral stats from one of my websites, and for the first time ever (did I mention “ever“?) Google is not the top referrer.  MySpace.com is sending more traffic than all of the Googles.  In fact, one-thrid of the top-30 referrers are from various MySpace pages.

I also notice that StumpleUpon is featuring in the website’s top-30 referrers.  Once you get in good with the “Stumblers”, it can be an excellent source of interested traffic. 

 


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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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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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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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