David Leonhardt’s SEO and Social Media Marketing

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

THE HAPPY GUY MARKETING

 

Archive for the ‘linking’ Category

Google Disavow. Why I actually like it.

Friday, October 25th, 2013

Google’s Disavow Tool is more than just a quick fix for a high-strung website owner. Used properly, it can help a website regain Google’s favour or possibly even avoid falling victim to Google’s link jailor Penguin mascot.  (post updated with video from Matt Cutts)

There is a lot of debate about whether or not it is a good idea to disavow backlinks. Some people think it is an admission of “guilt”. Others worry that, in using the disavow tool, people will end up losing valuable links that are not actually causing them any problems.

I will not dispute the validity of either of these views.

What if you know you have a backlinks problem?

Let us assume for a moment that you know you have a backlink problem. Perhaps you have received the infamous “unnatural backlinks” letter from Google. Perhaps your rankings have tanked, and you have ruled out other causes. Let’s assume that you need to clean up your backlink profile, one way or the other.

Basically, you have two choices. The first is to get rid of the backlinks. The second is to leave them up and use Google’s Disavow Tool.

Let’s be clear – Google prefers you to get rid of them. Let’s also be clear – most webmasters ignore requests to remove links. The first benefit of the Disavow Tool is that it lets you deal with the majority of links that you cannot get removed.

Remember, in this case, you will not be losing any valuable links with the disavow tool that you would not be losing if your begging, bribing, threatening and temper tantrums had worked with the website owners linking to you.

Read also: How Google reads your backlinks

There are also those links that you think are actually pretty good, but you are also pretty sure that Google disagrees with you. You probably should get rid of them to get back into Google’s good books…but what if those links are the reason you are still getting traffic from Bing and Yahoo. OR What if those links are sending you real traffic? Sure, Google is better than Bing, but Bing is better than nothing. And nothing is very realistically what you could end up with if you remove a whole bunch of links that Bing likes, and the Penguin still isn’t satisfied.

What if you do not have a backlinks problem…yet?

The Disavow tool is also a great way to take a pre-emptive strike to avoid getting into Google’s bad books. It has been my observation that it is a lot harder to get out of a penalty these days than to stay out. It’s sort of like falling into a well. It’s much easier to avoid being pushed in by a passing Penguin than to try scrambling out once you hit the bottom, so best to just avoid falling in.

Tweet this quote: “It’s much easier to avoid a Penguin penalty than to get out of one.”

I am not suggesting to make a pre-emptive strike for just any links, but I have seen twice how websites have been attacked by what you might call negative SEO. This very blog was used by a black hatter to try (unsuccessfully) to funnel PageRank to some websites through random text and image links pointing to blog comment URLs that did not exist (they left comments on this blog that were never published, but they pointed links at the non-existent URLs anyway). Their attempt was unsuccessful, but there were still hundreds of pure spam links on toxic domains increasing in rapid succession, pointing to this blog, to my domain.

Read Also: Monitor Backlinks – 7 juicy inside- and outside-the-box strategies

In another case, I worked with a website that was burdened with hundreds of new links pointing to it every day. The links were using pharmaceutical text (it was not a pharmaceutical site) and were in the company of dozens of other links all being placed invisibly in the code of blogs that the black hatters hacked into. The host blog owners never even knew the links were there, pointing to my client’s site or pointing to the many other sites.

In both these cases, spam attacks got the sites into Google’s bad books, but much, much, much more clean-up has been required to fix the link profile than just cleaning up the ones that got them into trouble. A preemptive disavow might have prevented huge headaches and a fortune of lost income for each of these websites.

The disavow tool should not be a crutch to lean on for worried website owners. If you know you have some really bad backlinks, do whatever you can to get them removed. But don’t be afraid to use the Disavow tool if that’s the best tool for your situation.

UPDATE: Google’s Matt Cutts has now confirmed that “If you’re at all worried about, you know, someone trying to do negative SEO or, you know, it looks like there’s some weird bot that’s building up a bunch of links to your site and you have no idea where it came from, that’s the perfect time to use Disavow, as well.”

Here is the video:

 

Disavow corrosive links

 


Grab The Bookmarketer For Your Site

Five backlink metrics to elude the dreaded Penguin

Friday, October 4th, 2013

Ever since Google released its Penguin algorithm, website owners have been swimming in murky and dangerous waters. It is no longer enough to get lots of good quality links pointing to your site. you also have to avoid the naval mines* lying in ambush – links from sites that Google considers to be toxic. Consider this article to be your minesweeper.

Once upon a time, not that long ago… ah, but this is not a fairy tale we are telling. Just two years ago, in fact, the main task of most SEO specialists was building links. That was never all there was to SEO, but it certainly was the most labour-intensive and the most never-ending task. I think Tom Shivers puts it best when he wrote:

“I’ve been a SEO consultant for over a decade and although I am sound with technical SEO the majority of my expertise and emphasis has been on gaining natural links.”

Most readers know the story well enough. The lovely princess and the handsome price… Oh, no, that’s not it. This is the tale of the weary link-builders who would look for shortcuts and systems and automation and ways to build thousands of backlinks to their websites or their client websites. This was never a very good idea, but Google rewarded them handsomely for doing so despite tut-tutting them for it.

What a difference two years make.

Google's penguin at work (cartoon)Having noticed the ravaged landscape of the Internet, Google has decided to align its actions more closely with its words, unleashing its “Penguin” algorithm, a hungry beast that is shredding webmaster’s little empires across the Internet.

The Penguin has turned the SEO world quite literally upside down. Just two years ago, the main task of most SEO specialists was building links. Now the main task of most SEO specialists is unbuilding links or at least defending against disreputable backlinks.

A couple years ago, any link was a good link. Even the most hoity-toity, holier-than-thou SEO practitioner paid no attention when a spammy site linked to their site.

Now, even people who once paid no attention to SEO at all are running around in a panic that the wrong kinds of sites might link to theirs, lest the Penguin get wind of it.

Instead of people coming up with tools to help webmasters build lots of quick and easy backlinks, savvy entrepreneurs are now coming up with tools to monitor their backlinks. I recently reviewed a really neat subscription software that does just that: Monitor Backlinks. This service also gives you some really neat metrics to help decide if each backlink is worthwhile or not, or dangerous or not. And you can keep tabs on your competition with it, too.

Five metrics to evaluate your backlinks

This blog post describes five metrics you can use to easily identify the worthwhile backlinks and the dangerous backlinks you might have or you might have the opportunity to acquire, so that you can avoid building a questionable backlink profile.

For those of you with some spare change and python-tight schedules, Monitor Backlinks is a quick way to identify troublesome backlinks. For those of you who misplaced your cash flow but have some spare time on your hands, there are free tools available.

Metric #1: Design

This is very simple. Take a look at the site. If the design is exceedingly poor, it is unlikely to attract good traffic or good backlinks. Chances are that the site sucks.

Free tool: Eyeballs

It’s not for nothing this is commonly called “the eyeball test”.

What to look for

Look for obvious signs that the site is not being maintained. Check if the pages are filled with ads. Check if there are tons of outbound links. Look for images that are not scaled properly. Check for real contact information. A site that posts telephone number and mailing address are much more likely to be in Google’s good books than a more secretive website.

Metric #2: PageRank

This is at the same time a no-brainer and somewhat of a red herring. A no-brainer because this is the only public metric of a site’s value that Google displays. It is somewhat of a red herring because it is often inaccurate and out of date, and is often relied upon far to heavily just because it is such an each measurement to check.

Free tool: Google toolbar

This is probably just plain obvious.

What to look for

Look for very high or very low PageRank. If a home page has zero PageRank, it is either a very new website or one that really has no presences on the Internet (or there is a glitch in the toolbar data). If you are really pressed for time you might want to pass it by.

If a home page has really high PageRank, like 5 or more, chances are that the site is a steal. But remember that there are often inaccuracies in the toolbar, so never take PageRank at face value. If a site has high PageRank but doesn’t pass the eyeball test, I’d trust the eyeball test more. In fact, I would never even look at the PageRank of a site that totally fails the eyeball test.

Look also for page-specific PageRank. This can be useful if the home page has a high PageRank and you have the option of being linked from an internal page with low PageRank or one with medium PageRank.  Choose the better page.

Metric #3: Traffic

One great way to quickly determine if a website makes a good backlink is based on traffic. Google has a lot of data on which websites send traffic from their links. A website that gets no traffic, sends no traffic. So low-traffic counts could be a sign that the site has little respect from Google.

Free tool: Alexa

Anybody who has been around on the Internet for a while knows about Alexa, a website that measures traffic trends for any significant website.  Of course, this might be of little use if the site is new or has very little traffic.

What to look for

There are two things to look for. The first is the overall traffic levels compared to other similar websites. BIG emphasis on “compared to other similar websites”. You cannot compare a website about fish tanks with a website about free clip-art. Alexa will tend to draw much more data from one niche than from another; this is the weak point about Alexa.

Similarly, you cannot compare a website that runs a forum for fish owners with a fish-related blog or with a website selling fish tank supplies. They might be the same niche, but they will draw different levels of traffic by their different functions.

The second thing to look for is the trend. Alexa offers really cool trend graphs so you can see if traffic has been growing or falling over the past year.

Alexa website traffic graph

Growing is good. Falling is bad. But don’t worry too much if traffic has been gently falling over the long run. That is unlikely to reflect badly on the site.

However, if traffic has suddenly plunged, that could be a sign that Google has penalized it. If you are in a rush, you might just want to steer wide of that website and avoid getting a backlink from them. If you have time to kill, you can always try comparing the timing of the drops in traffic with the timing of Penguin updates.

Still, even if there is no direct correlation in timing, something drastic has happened. It could be the end of an ad campaign or the break-up of a partnership or some other Google penalty. Whatever it is, it is probably not worth your investment in time to figure it out.

Metric #4: Backlinks

What better way to assess the quality of a potential backlink site than by looking at its own backlinks? A website with lots of strong, credible backlinks is one that is very likely to get the stamp of approval from Google. A website with lots of spammy looking backlinks is quite likely to be in or to be headed for the doghouse …er…the penguinhouse.

Free tool: BacklinkWatch

This is not the only free tool to check backlinks with; but I find it useful.

What to look for:

You could spend hours analyzing the backlinks of every site or page offering you a backlink. Let’s not. There are a few things to look for that don’t require deep analysis.

First, check for simple link diversity. If a website has 1200 backlinks and it looks like 900 of them are coming from a single domain, or even from just three or four domains, that could be a big concern.

Of course, it also depends where the other 300 links are coming from. If several of them are coming from recognized authority websites like CNN or Forbes or webMD, the site might be well worth getting a link from. So the second thing to watch for are well-known websites that likely convey authority.

The third thing to look for are really spammy looking websites. I don’t mean to click-through each backlink, but you can easily tell if there are a lot of cheap-ugg-shoes-for-sale.com type of domains linking in. Or if a large number of inbound links come from directories or forum profiles or article directories. Nothing wrong with having some of these in a link profile. Something very wrong with having oodles of them.

Metric #5: Social signals

You might have heard that the search engines are valuing “social signals” of late. It’s true.

Free tool: ShareTalley

This tool will give you a quick count of social mentions across a broad range of social sites. It does not look at the domain, just at individual pages.

What to look for:

First, I would look at the linking page to see what social profile it has. A good social profile will show mentions across several services. I have found that if a page is promoted in any of the big six social sites (Twitter, FaceBook, Google Plus, Pinterest, StumbleUpon and LinkedIn), it will naturally pick up mentions in other places, especially Delicious and Pocket. If there are 100 or more tweets and no mentions in any of the smaller services, that is a red flag that the page might have been promoted artificially, such as by buying tweets or FaceBook likes (not good).

Next, I would look at the home page and check its mentions. That can sometimes also give an idea of the website’s social profile. But be aware that a content page that is actually of interest to people might get shared more than a home page.

Happy linking

We come to the end of our fairy tale. This is where the prince and the princess kiss and ride off into the sunset. They can do this because the Penguin is off in the next county hunting down people who didn’t bring their eyeballs and their other tools with them.

* If this imagery reminds you of a certain Monty Python skit, I take no responsibility for the consequences.

Illustration credit: A big thank you to Aires C. Bautista.

 


Grab The Bookmarketer For Your Site

Monitor Backlinks – 7 juicy inside- and outside-the-box strategies

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

I love new tools that make online marketing easier, and I have always been a fan of SEO.  So when Monitor Backlinks was released, of course I had to review it.

CAVEAT: I am not a fan of automation for content creation or for link-building, as I have often said.  But I am a great fan of automation for form filling and for research.  And this is all about putting research on Steroids.

This review will not be a step-by-step walk-through of the interface, nor a pros-and-cons type of review, for three reasons:

Monitor Backlinks Logo

  1. This tool is mostly self-evident and easy to use – I love it when that happens!
  2. There are already several reviews of this kind, such as here and  here and here - and I am sure many more will appear.
  3. These guys bend over backwards to help you figure it out (Hello Big Brands who don’t want to keep getting bashed on Twitter - are you paying attention?).  Here is a message I got from founder Razvan Girmacea when I signed up:

“Got any questions about our software? Want to get a second opinion on your SEO tactics? Just reply to this email.

“I like helping people to get the most out of Monitor Backlinks and I like talking to people interested in SEO in general.”

Instead of walking through the interface, let me run through seven juicy ways I have discovered this tool can be harnessed to boost your business, some of which you will find “du-uh” obvious, others of which you’ll find “Hey, that’s refreshing!”  (like cantaloupe with vanilla ice cream – go ahead and try it)

KEEPING LINK PARTNERS HONEST

This is not the most original or the most exciting way to use Monitor Backlinks, but it is the most obvious and the most traditional – plus it allows me to easily introduce how Monitor Backlinks works at the most basic level, so let’s start with it.

Monitor Backlinks 'SEO Auto Discover' feature

The “SEO Auto Discover” function tracks all your backlinks, which new ones you get and which old ones disappear.  So if a linking partner removes your link, you will be alerted in the change log.  Or if you choose to be alerted by email on your account page, you will receive an email alert.

Receive email notification of change of status

To be frank, keeping reciprocal linkers honest has never been a priority of mine, and I will not use it this way.  Most link partners are honest anyway, and a natural backlink profile does not include a high degree of reciprocation in backlinks…or in the timing of backlink removal.  But I know that some readers will want to keep track of this.

But it’s not just link partners you might want to monitor, as Razvan Girmacea pointed out when I interviewed him:

“Think how hard is to get a baklink and then think how easy is to inform a webmaster about a link with a problem (nofollow, 302 redirect, robots.txt blocked, removed because changed theme, meta noindex/nofolllow, server errors …). This is exactly why I’ve built Monitor Backlinks, to make sure you keep your current links when it’s possible.

“About 10 to 20% of the links that have problems can be recovered with a simple notice to the website owner.”

PENGUIN CLEAN-UP

I have been helping websites clean up their backlinks for a couple years, ever since Google’s bloodthirsty Penguin has been ravishing the Internet.  When a website gets the infamous “unnatural backlinks” letter from Google, it means not hours, but days of tedious work:

  • Tracking down backlinks
  • Deciding which ones to try to eliminate
  • Seeking webmaster contact info
  • Requesting link removal
  • Keeping track of which links are being removed
  • Re-contacting the webmaster
  • Disavowing links that do not get removed

Sorry, but Monitor Backlinks won’t do all this work for you.  But it will help you keep track, which can save you days of work.  To put this to use, you need to first create a list of all the backlinks you want removed, and load it up…

Import backlinks to monitor

I know that a Penguin Penalty and an “unnatural backlinks” letter are not the same thing, but there is a very strong correlation, probably in the vicinity of 95 percent.  And if you have been hit by Penguin and not “yet” received the dreaded letter, best to start cleaning up your backlinks quickly to avoid getting the letter.  It is my observation that this is a situation where an ounce of prevention can save you a pounding headache of cure.

RELATED ARTICLE: How Google interprets your backlinks

LOCAL SEO

Another innovative way to use Monitor Backlinks is to keep track of competitors.  I know I have always said to ignore what the competition is doing and just focus on being the best you can be, but there are some useful reasons to monitor competitor backlinks.

When a competitor wins a new backlink, it just might be from a website that you can also approach for a backlink.

When a competitor wins a new backlink, the linking website might not be one that will link to two competitors, but you might be able to look for a similar link from one of that website’s competitors.  For instance, a local bar might make a taxi company its “preferred supplier” and link to it.  Oh yeah?  Well, you can go out and get other bars to link to your taxi company website.

When a competitor gets a spammy link, you can see it right away.  And perhaps you will want to report it to somebody. I will warn you to be very careful about this.  Once you start a food fight on the Internet, it can get out of control.

This approach can be useful for any website, not just local SEO.  But it especially useful for local SEO where linking opportunities might be more limited and truly useful links should mostly come from local sources.

I contacted Gerald Weber, a friend who I knew was using this tool (see the “here” links above), and he told me: “My wife has recently launched a new phone screen repair business (www.houstoniphonescreenrepair.com) and with all of the craziness that has been going on in Google these days we want to know immediately if we get some weird or spammy looking links. It’s also extremely cool that we can always see when we are getting new and powerful links as well.”

A little bird told me that Monitor Backlinks might soon be adding a “local citation” feature, so you will know not only what sites link to your site, but what sites mention your company (and your competitors).  Here is a good post on the importance of citations to local SEO.  I am not sure how far advanced this is, as I have yet to come across any studies on local citation (please feel free to identify any in the comments below), but it appears to be something that has begun.  And, I might add, it is a good reason why your local website should be well optimized for your company name and area code.

NEGATIVE SEO

You might have heard a lot about negative SEO, especially now that Google will penguin-slap you for too many unnatural backlinks.

Many webmasters are afraid that a competitor will pay an offshore “link building” service to create 1000 forum backlinks and 1000 spammy, keyword-specific-anchor-text blog comments to their sites and get them in trouble.  The scary thing is that there is precious little that you can do about this.

But if you see them coming, which is where Monitor Backlinks comes in handy, you might be able to throw them all into a Disavow file with a note about being bombarded by negative SEO, and upload it to Google’s Disavow tool.  Will that protect you?  I don’t know.  But you will have a MUCH better case to make if you report the links proactively as soon as they appear than if you respond only after Google finds them.

For those who don’t think negative SEO is possible, I was a victim.  In my case, it was not a competitor who hit me, just some black hat SEO “genius” using my blog to try to boost rankings.  They posted spam comments here.  Those comments were never approved, but they still had specific URLs.  The spammer was linking from garbage websites using random images and anchor text to the exact URL of their comments, hoping to boost the SEO value of their comment links.  Although the comment-specific URLs never went live, the spam links still pointed to this domain.  Had I been monitoring those backlinks, I might have taken pre-emptive action to avoid the mess of a full-fledged backlinks clean-up.

JUICE UP YOUR CURRENT BACKLINKS

Monitor Backlinks gives some great analytics about each link.  Here is a partial slice from a few of my backlinks…

Monitor Backlinks data

What you see is the domain for each link, to and from.  You have to move your cursor over the domains to see the exact URL and click on that to open the link in a new window.  Then comes the MozRank of the domain.  Move your cursor over it and see the Page Authority.  Next comes the social sharing tally.  Move your cursor over that and view specific counts for Twitter, FaceBook, Google+, LinkedIn and Delicious.

What I cut off to keep the image manageable on this narrow blog space are:

Number of external links on each linking page, the tag representing the source of the data (in this case, all from the “autodiscover from Google Analytics” function), the button to edit the data, the current status of the link and the date the link was added to the Monitor Backlinks database.

So, how does this help me leverage my backlinks.  Well, in this example you see that I have some nice links from some authoritative websites.  That is good. But the pages themselves lack much authority, and no wonder when you look at the social sharing numbers.  So that tells me that I should social share some of those pages, where appropriate, and perhaps ask some friends to do so, too.

Or there might be opportunities to build in some links to those pages.  For instance, one is a company profile.  There might be a way to work that into a blog post or a forum post at some point. Or there might be a blog post mentioning your site that you were unaware of.  After reading the post, you might find that there is a follow-up that you can do to cement a relationship and maybe get mentioned in another way.  Or write a guest post for them…

NEW GUEST POSTING IDEAS

An even better way to find guest post opportunities is to keep an eye on where competitors are guest posting.  If a blog is keen to accept a guest post from one of your pet supply competitors, chances are good that they will be interested in a post from your pet supply website, too.

A quick check at the MozRank of the site and the amount of shares that your competitor’s guest post garners will give you ample data to decide if you want to approach the blogmaster to also contribute a guest post.

AS SEEN IN…

Oh, looky here…

As seen in Forbes

Maybe you will be so lucky as to see a link come in from Forbes or Inc. or CNN.  These are valuable for much more than SEO and a short burst of traffic.  Set up an “As seen on” graphic for your website to create amazing social proof that will impress visitors and help you increase sales.  Here is an example from my friends over at Client Attraction:

As Seen In logos

MORE IDEAS?

I am getting hungry (why did I have to mention cantaloupe and ice cream?), so that’s enough writing for now.  Feel free to suggest in the comments below other ideas for using Monitor Backlinks, or other features they could include so that it could be used in even more innovative ways.

 


Grab The Bookmarketer For Your Site

How Google reads your backlinks

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

People spend a lot of time scratching their heads, trying to understand how Google reads their backlinks.  They want to know what links they should seek to their websites that are still “safe”.

With all the turmoil over unnatural links and Penguin penalties over the past year or two, ever more people are sorting through their backlink profiles trying to understand which links to keep and which to try to cull.  What confuses many people the most is why some links would be valued over others.  “Why doesn’t Google like the links I worked so hard to build?”

The problem is that people are used to assuming that:

  • Every link is good.
  • High PageRank is what counts the most
  • Automation is good, because more is better.

These are wrong assumptions.  Remember that Google looks at each link to your website as a vote of confidence or a recommendation.  And not all recommendations are of equal value.  For instance, suppose you need headache medication…

 

Add the Infographic above to your site!

 

If one person recommends a headache medication, you might be inclined to try it. But if several people recommend a different headache medication…yes, exactly.  More is better.

But wait!  What if a doctor recommends a different headache medication.  Yup, authority trumps quantity.  And if several doctors recommend a completely different headache medication…exactly!  More is better, after all, especially when it comes with authority.

Now, what if the drug pusher around the corner offers his recommendation?  No thanks.  But what if a dozen drug pushers all recommend the same headache medication?  Of course you’ll take their advice, because more is better, right?

No way!

And Google is at least as smart as you are.  If hundreds of spammy sites link to your website, that is not a better recommendation than if one spammy website links to yours.  The more “drug pusher” websites recommend your website, the more likely Google is to label your website…

So, just as you would not want a throng of drug pushers recommending your product, make sure there is no throng of spammy websites recommending your website. Google will see more value in your website if inbound links come from trusted or – even better – highly trusted sources.

 


Grab The Bookmarketer For Your Site

Stupid link-building tactic #17 – filling in contact forms?

Monday, November 19th, 2012

You have surely heard of “Stupid Pet Tricks”. Well, allow me to present “Stupid SEO Tricks”.

Here is someone trying to build links (directory links, perhaps?) by submitting their site to…the contact form on our SEO services page!

fullname: Manoj Damkondwar
email: emailsuppressed @yahoo.in
phone: 000-000-0000
url: http://www. urlsuppressed.com
keyword1: Remanufactured engine
keyword2: Rebuilt Engine
keyword3: used Engines
keyword4: Car Engines
keyword5: Truck Engine
service: other
language: english
message: Locate rebuilt & used automobile motors and engines for all cars, trucks, and marine applications including gas, diesel, electrical engines & high performance motors.

And here is someone trying to build links (comment spam links, perhaps?) by submitting a cut-and-paste comment to…the contact form on our blog writer for hire page!

fullname: Travesti
email: emailsuppressed @gmail.com
phone: 000-000-0000
url: http://www. urlsuppressed.com
service: blog
length: 10
message: Wow! this is the blog I like most. The templates and the designs really captivates me. Thanks for sharing this!

TIP FOR THE BRAIN-DAMAGED: If you plan to create a bunch of spammy links, at least take the time to make sure that the form you are filling is one that will create a spammy link. Otherwise you are wasting your time, because Google and Bing will never find the spammy link that never gets created.

On the other hand, maybe this is the best way to create spammy links – because Google and Bing will never find them.

 


Grab The Bookmarketer For Your Site

Why build links to non-converting “fly-over” pages

Monday, July 30th, 2012

What is a fly-over state, and what does it have to do with SEO?

You might have heard the term “fly-over”, referring to Utah and Wyoming and Colorado and Kansas and Nebraska.  It refers to those states that the politicians and business travellers rarely visit, but often fly over on their trips between east coast and west coast.

I like to think the same of New Brunswick – I have been in the province three times, twice driving through ( a “drive-thru province”?) and once to actually visit, and I have flown over it four additional time to get to the east coast.

Fly-over states get ignored.

Your website might have some fly-over pages, which might also get ignored.  But some of them are worth a second look.

I was looking through Google Analytics, and noticed a couple pages for one of my websites was getting a surprising amount of traffic.  The pages were describing very specific aspects related to the site’s topic.  Looking at the search terms that were bringing most of the visitors there, it was clear that these visitors were researchers, perhaps doing term papers or just curious.  These were NOT customers.  These are NOT buyers.

Aargh.  What a waste.

Or not?

Turning fly-over pages into landing pages

Not.  Here are five reasons to feed your fly-over pages, to build internal links to those pages and to build deep links from other pages on the web when you get the chance. (Here is a guide to building deep links.) In other words, why you should help build the ranking of these fly-over pages so that more people land on them.

  1. If people like the information on the pages, some of them will social share them on places like FaceBook and twitter and Google Plus.  And that gives your entire domain credibility with the search engines.  Tip: Make sure those pages are definitive sources of information, quotable and share-worthy.
  2. The more people visit, the better your Alexa Rank on Compete score, and that does count for something in many cases (like selling your site or seeking online partnerships).
  3. Some of those researchers might be bloggers, who will build links into the page and maybe also to your home page.  Either way, every link into your domain helps the entire domain – including your money pages.
  4. Some of the researchers might be journalists.  As long as the topic is related to your main site topic, it is to your advantage to be quoted in the media; don’t forget that offline media can drive customers, too.
  5. And you never know when a researcher might actually be interested in your product or pass your site on to someone they know who is interested.

Time to review your fly-over pages and see if any of them are worth turning into landing pages.  Your whole website could benefit from the valuable content on those pages.

 


Grab The Bookmarketer For Your Site

Ghost Town Link Building

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

When the search engines follow links to your website, do they find a ghost town from a movie set? You know what those are like, right?

A movie set ghost town is all facade. There are windows with sills, nicely painted or stained wood fronts, doors, front steps or at least a threshold. But if you actually open the door, it is empty inside. When you pass through the doorway, you find nothing . Not furniture. No interior wall, nor even side or back walls. No people. Only support beams to hold up the facade.

A lot of websites are like that. You look at their link profile, and – Wow! – does it ever look impressive. Hundreds of links from dozens of domains, maybe even thousands of links from hundreds of domains.

But wait, something looks out of place. Something doesn’t look natural. Something looks like… a facade. All the links point to the home page. All the links point to the website’s facade. Just like the cameras that always show us carefully just the fronts of the buildings, the links all show us carefully just the front page of the website. Like there is nothing else on the site worth linking to.

Like a movie set ghost town.

 

 

Deep Linking Makes It Real

When you build links to a variety of pages, you are showing the search engines that your site has depth. That it has substance. That it is real, not just a facade. And if you want the search engines to take your web address seriously, it helps to show that there is really something there.

Some tips on deep linking

Make sure you have content on your website. Content is not a home page or a sales page. Content is useful information. For instance…

How-to articles
Case studies
Interesting photos
Top 10 lists
Recommendations

But how does this content lead to inbound deep links to your website?

  • Let bloggers know about your content. Some will find it interesting and link to it.
  • Share on places like Twitter, MySpace, FaceBook, Pinterest, Digg, Tumblr, etc. (learn how to use these sites, build a network, and follow the official rules AND the unwritten guidelines)
  • Write articles about the same topic for other websites, and link back.
  • Create related videos for video sharing sites like Youtube, and link back to the original content.
  • Write related guest posts on other blogs, linking back to the original content.
  • Let the media (local, trade, etc.) know about the content, in case it will interest them.
  • Prepare news releases related to the content and distribute to press release websites.
  • Comment on related blogs, using the content pages as the “website URL” field.

 


Grab The Bookmarketer For Your Site

Creative Link-building Email Spam

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

I get my share of emails requesting links.  I do consider those that look realistic and worthwhile, but that is very few.

But none compare with an email that was sent to Tom over at Canadian Finance Blog. *

Hello Tom and greetings from New York and Mrs. Fowler’s 4th grade class!

I hope it’s ok that I’m contacting you directly! My class is currently working on special unit on Money and Finance and as part of an assignment, the kids had to go out and find an educational website/article(s) on a related topic of their choice, along with a list of websites to share them with. My job of emailing their lists is quite the task as you can imagine…

canadianfinanceblog.com was on one of the students’ lists (Amy) and her suggestion for you can be seen below:

“All About Money”
http://www.mycoupons.com/store/all-about-money/

Her suggestion is to add this resource to your links page
(http://canadianfinanceblog.com/friday-links-84/) so that others may benefit from it and learn something new. Some sort of prize or extra credit will be given to those students with the most implemented suggestions to reward them for their hard work!

Thank you for considering playing a role in our project, and please let us know if you post the link :)

Have a great day!

Mrs. Nancy Fowler (and Amy Byrk)
Harrison Wing A – Rm 322
“If my mind can conceive it, and my heart can believe it, I know I can achieve it.” -Jesse Jackson

OK, Mrs.  Fowler.  So your class project is to spam bloggers on behalf of MyCoupons.com?  Yeah, right.

This gets the award for most creative link-building. Creative is good; dirty, rotten, sticking, liar is less good.  I wonder whether there is anybody out there gullible enough to be fooled by this.

* I have disabled the spammer’s link in her letter.  Otherwise, I have left it untouched

 


Grab The Bookmarketer For Your Site

Why You Should Be Blog Carnival-Crazy

Monday, January 16th, 2012

If you have never heard of a blog carnival or a blog round-up, this is not to be missed. As a blogger, you should seriously consider hosting a blog carnival – and you should absolutely be participating in blog carnivals every week.

First, the terminology.

  • Blog round-up. A summary of interesting blog posts from the previous week (or however long the blogger decides).
  • Blog carnival. A summary of interesting blog posts from the previous week (or however long the blogger decides).

Ah…yeah. So what is the difference? Originally a “carnival” traveled, hosted by a different blog each week. A few still do, but most are simply round-ups with a festive name.

Why your blog should host a carnival:

Traffic. When you post a dozen links to other people’s posts, guess what happens… they tweet about the post and sometimes link to it and generally send people your way.

Links. As I said above…

Networking. List a dozen blog posts and you get brownie points from a dozen happy bloggers.

Why you should submit your blog to a carnival:

Traffic. When someone posts a link to your post on their carnival, chances are people will follow the link and discover your blog.

Links. As I said above…

Networking. The blogger will appreciate that you contributed to his blog.

Blog Carnival tools:

There are a few ways that you can find posts to include in your carnival. There are two broker websites, which I will review below, and there are a few simple tactics to find posts on your own.

1. Tweet a request for contributions.
2. Ask your mastermind group on FaceBook or Skype or wherever (I have seen this done effectively several times).
3. Post a notice on niche forums.
4. Track the blogs you like via RSS and choose the posts you like most (several people do this).
5. Do a blog comments carnival. I take the more substantial comments that I leave on other people’s blogs, and I blog them into a carnival.
6. Post a notice on your own blog – that might be enough to get a flood of submissions.

BlogCarnival.com: This website has been around for a while, and lists hundreds or blog carnivals.

What I like about the site…

It is nicely automated. When you put in the URL of a blog post, much of the submission form is auto-filled.

Plenty of blogs in all sorts of niches, and since your posts will mostly be relevant to one niche all the time, and to most niches on occasion, this works well.

What I don’t like about the site….

Most of the carnivals listed no longer exist. At least there is a notice that the carnival does not exist, but still it does clog things up. I always sort the available blogs by “most recent” carnival, and don’t bother with ones that have not been kept up to date.

Several blogger I know who have used the site have complained that they don’t get the submissions people send. I know some go through, because I have had success, but I have no idea what submission success rate is.

Each carnival opens in the same window, so to submit to several, I need to manually open up several windows at a time.

BlogCarnivalHQ.com. In response to the submission problems at log Carnival, this site was set up by Tom Drake, a leading financial blogger (he also runs Fwisp, a growing social bookmarking site for finance bloggers).

What I like about the site…

Quick clicks to each blog, uncluttered by hundreds of no-longer active carnivals.

Great for finance articles.

Solid programming and a personal commitment by Tom Drake to keep it functioning properly.

What I don’t like about the site…

The site is still new, so other categories are pretty sparsely populated. (This is your chance to get your blog in on the ground floor.)

Each carnival opens in the same window, so to submit to several, I need to manually open up several windows at a time.

If you don’t want to run your own carnival, but you do want a post included in a carnival, there are three ways to find carnivals to submit to. One way is to search Google or Bing for carnivals or round-ups related to your niche. The other two ways are to search the two blog carnival websites I reviewed above.

 


Grab The Bookmarketer For Your Site

Business Blog Commenting Carnival #2

Monday, January 9th, 2012

Welcome to our second “Business Blog Commenting Carnival”, an irregular feature where I share with you some of the comments I left on great posts from other blogs.

I answered the question Who’s the Real Boss in Your Business?

I say it is the customers. “The Customer is Always Right.” If the customer needs something quickly, I work overtime. If customers change their taste or preferences, my business better change to meet their demands.

When you are an employee, you have only one customer. You call him “the boss” or “the employer”, but the fact is that you are selling him some combination of your time, your effort and your expertise.

When you own the business, you have many bosses or employers. You call them “the customers” or “the clients”.

At 5 Techniques You Can Use to Take Your Internet Marketing Business to the Next Level in 2012 Danielle McGraw suggests to “Take it offline”. My thoughts on this?…

Indeed, most online folks really don’t think about taking things offline. But imagine the power of leaving sticky notes all over in public places: “Free download – make money online”. Or imagine handing strangers in the mall a business card that says: “A penny for your thoughts” with a penny taped to it, and a subheading: “Comment on my blog at http…”

Roberta Budvietas wrote that Civility Is important to Business Success. I agreed…

Civility is just another word for respect, or at least for demonstrating respect. If you don’t demonstrate respect, why would anybody do business with you?

At The Mystery of SEO, I found myself speaking in quite a counter intuitive fashion…

Anthony, on the whole I agree with your approach. However, I will take issue with the web designer who rejects any client not interested in an SEO analysis. The vast majority of websites will never rank well for any search phrase worth speaking of. There are simply too many more websites than their are available search phrases, and too many websites that are already very strong in most of those search markets. And as much as it might seem contrarian for an SEO specialist to be saying this, there are so many moire awesome ways to find a website than through search engine rankings. Radio ads. Print ads. Sponsoring YouTube or offline video, pay-per-click ads , guest blogging…and so many more. Many B2B websites have a very small niche clientele that can be best reached through trade shows and trade publications. Thinking the world revolves around SEO is the myopic miscalculation fostered usually by SEO specialists; how unfortunate that a web designer has also been infected.

Ming Jong Tey wrote about a link wheel strategy that works. I suggested an upgrade to that strategy…

Yes, the typical link wheel has fallen out of favour with Google. But the newer version is a lot of work. Creating several unique articles just to get a single link (Yes, you can pay $5 or $10 to have some regurgitated baby food pounded into something that looks like words, but do you really think Google is stupider than the folks who write that crap?) So here is an alternative:

Create a good article on a Web 2.0 site. Submit it to a couple appropriate social bookmarking sites for the niche. Comment on a couple good blog posts in the niche, using the article URL as your “website”.

There you go. You have created great content, engaged with bloggers and given real link juice to your hub.

This is not a blog, but rather a forum thread that asked: “I just started working for a local law firm and Im new to SEO. Im helping out with the link building campaign. I wanted to get some advice on a good strategy for building white hat back links for a local law firm?”

I disagree that anything you do to build links violates Google’s TOS. Links represent to Google “votes” for your content. In other words, if you have content worth linking to, you should get links, because links are the natural extension of everything you do, online and offline.

1. Ask clients if they can place a little acknowledgement on their website, linking back to your website. “Thanks to LAW FIRM NAME for helping us get our paperwork in order and setting up our business. (Links are not just about Google – they are first and foremost about referral business).

2. You want you site to have great, informative content, not just sales pages (I know I don’t buy from people tryin g to push a sale down my throat). It could be tips on how to avoid whiplash or how to determine what is false advertising or anything else that relates to the areas of law you practice. Then tell the world. Should it out on Twitter and FaceBook, on StumbleUpon and Chime.in, on Tumblr and Squidoo. The more people who discover your great content, the more people will share it and in some cases those shares will bring you links and in others “social signals” that the search engines value. But best of all, again, they will bring you referral traffic.

 


Grab The Bookmarketer For Your Site

David Leonhardt’s SEO and Social Media Marketing is proudly powered by WordPress
Entries (RSS) and Comments (RSS).

Close