David Leonhardt’s SEO and Social Media Marketing

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Archive for the ‘linking’ Category

Blog advertising

Friday, April 13th, 2007

You might have noticed that we have a new page listed at the top called “blog advertising”.  Yes, we do accept advertising or sponsored posts, and we have set up very specific guidelines to avoid potential conflicts of interest, including transparency, relevance and freedom to say “this website simply does not deliver”.

In preparing to accept advertising, I did some research on what others are doing.  Tim Nash recently made a similar decision to mine, and given that he is a well-respected contributor at Webdigity, one of the more interesting forums around, I asked him if he would be willing to be a guest blogger and share his thoughts on paid blog posts.  What follows is his commentary…

I’m a blogger not a journalist!

Once upon a time I started a website it had a single page about me, these days I run several websites participate on 2 blogs regularly and guest blog on numerous others. I spend 60 hours a week working on the web one way or another. Why am I telling you this? Well in all those hours across all those sites I see reviews and I meet people and products and I think cool I will write about that, 90% of the time I don’t but occasionally I get beyond the first few lines. So when some one turns up and offers you a few dollars to write a review about their site or product are you going to say no?

I consider myself to be an ethical blogger in that I always declare when a post is paid for I only accept “jobs” where they are after my honest review. In many ways I consider myself simply being given a nudge out of the door of course I can already hear the screams from the anti paid per post lobby.

“The PayPerPost model brings up memories of payola in the music industry, something the FCC and state attorney generals are still trying to eliminate or control. Given the distributed and unlicensed nature of the blogosphere, controlling payoffs to bloggers will be exponentially more difficult.”
Tech Crunch – http://www.techcrunch.com/2006/10/12/the-payperpost-virus-spreads/

This is one of the biggest arguments against pay per post — are you being bribed and if so does it matter? If a journalist on a big paper was found to be on the pay of a company how would we react, outrage, anger certainly the end of their career, but why?

It’s down to trust and authority we believe our newspapers to be independent of such things this is of course not true but perception is everything. The journalist may never write a positive review about the company but we perceive our trust has been breached we have been let down.

But I’m a blogger! I write in my spare time and if some one says here some money to write about xxx then sure I will write about it. If you don’t like it don’t read it! The problem comes when the personal integrity of the blogger is breached which is summed up nicely by Stuntdubl

“If everybody writes positive reviews of CRAP – it’s a surefire way for the whole idea to suck. It’s not a surprise that people will accept money to write reviews or analysis – the big question will be HOW MUCH it costs for a review. “
Stuntdubl http://www.stuntdubl.com/2006/11/10/reviewme-2/

Here it is laid out on a plate If I accept $30 for an impartial review that’s cool what if I’m given $500 or $1000 can I really remain impartial when offered larger sums of money; I’ll let you know

Advice for Bloggers
So here some advice if you’re going to try Pay per post or similar.

  • Set up a disclaimer page discuss which services you use
  • Offer a way to view the site without PPP
  • Make PPP very clear and obvious (I use the tag PPP plus disclaimer)
  • Try to make your posts interesting and on topic, just because its paid for doesn’t mean it can’t be part of your normal blogging cycle.


A final cautioning word of warning, some search engines believe Paid links should not be allowed and to steps to prevent these links and pages appearing in the index  Grey Wolf has a great post on this; so is paid per post worth it?


About Me
Tim Nash is a reputation management consultant, co-founder and primary consultant for Venture Skills, a “New media” IT company which specialises in search engine optimisation, reputation management, and technical side of online marketing. When not working at Venture Skills, posting site reviews on forums he can be found teaching at a local university where he lecturers in Search Engine Optimisation and Information Retrieval.




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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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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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BegForPost :: Why pay per post when you can beg?

Wednesday, March 28th, 2007

This is a totally new, humorous and deadly serious Internet marketing concept: BegForPost :: Why pay per post when you can beg? It’s a marketplace for those who want blog exposure and those interested in giving blog exposure.  It is being reported in places like TechCrunch as an alternative to “the ethically questionable PayPerPost service that allows advertisers to pay bloggers to write about their products”.  (That’s a debate for another day.)

One of the toughest problems when promoting one’s website to bloggers is finding the right ones…not just those who might be interested because they are in your niche, but those who actually are interested because they want to receive your PR material.  Those adventuresome website marketers who take on that challenge waste a lot of time sending emails and filling in comments forms to bloggers who have no interest, who in turn waste a lot of time reading and deleting unwanted messages.

BegForPost is a start, but it needs something more.  It needs a way for bloggers to search for webmasters who are interested in getting exposure on a topic (for guest blogs, joint ventures, free samples, etc.)  It needs a way for webmasters to search for bloggers in their niche who are interested in listening.

I just took BegForPost for a spin.  I had no way to know which blog to target, so I looked at whom others were targeting, picked one, and begged for a post on behalf of a client.  My begging is at this point in the hands of a moderator.  But how do I know if the target blogger wants to hear from my client.   

This is a cool idea, but it needs a little more sophistication before it is likely to be genuinely useful.  However, I will report back if my test drive ends up bearing fruit.  If not, I might try again with another client. 




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Submit your URL to deep link directories

Wednesday, March 14th, 2007

I have read much debate over which directories and what types of directories are worth submitting your website URL to.  I have to admit that I often disagreee with the views espoused in many of these discussions.

Today I want to speak up in favor of that rare bird, the deep link directory.  A deep-link directory is one that allows links directly into pages of interest within your website.  Very few directories allow this; most insist on submitting your home page and your home page only.  This cripples people from posting links to the pages of most interest, which are often inside the website, or from linking to various topics within a website with a broader coverage. 

From an SEO perspective, you don’t want all your inbound links pointing to your home page…unless, of course, you are trying to send a message to the search engines, such as, “Look how shallow my website is.  See?  Nothing there worth linking to but the home page.  There’s nothing inside that anybody would want to link to, no siree.  Don’t even bothering indexing all those useless pages.”

So when I got involved in creating directories, they all offered a link to the home page URL plus up to three deep links.  Here are links to four free deep link directories where you can submit your website:

Submit travel websites with deep links

Submit webmaster websites with deep links

Submit real estate websites with deep links

Submit all sorts of websites with deep links

Since options are limited for free-submit deep link directories, here are four of my favorite paid deep link directories.  None of these have recurring fees, and they are all reasonably priced.   

Bloggeries (just for blogs).

Octopedia (our page there)


Webtopia (the Canada page)

World Site Index


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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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Wikipedia should be spanked!

Monday, February 26th, 2007

I must be feeling edgy today.  I just posted a message on a public forum saying Wikipedia should be spanked!

The post is over at Webdigity webmaster forums.  It is consistent with what I wrote a month ago about Wikipedia being the dead end on the Information Highway, although I don’t think I mentioned spanking that time.


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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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KEI Formula Misleads for Keyword Competitiveness Research

Friday, February 23rd, 2007

Many SEO specialists wonder why I don’t use Keyword Effectiveness Index, or KEI, to research the right keyword phrases to target.  On the surface, the KEI formula makes sense, and it struck me as so obvious when I first learned about it. 

To the best of my recollection, WordTracker invented KEI, and their original description of the formula was, “the KEI compares the Count result (number of times a keyword has appeared in our data) with the number of competing web pages to pinpoint exactly which keywords are most effective for your campaign.”  What better way to research keyword competitiveness?

At first a fan, I did eventually come to my senses.  This formula tracks how many websites are in a given database for a searched term.  But it is not the volume that counts; it’s the distribution.  Here’s an analogy… 

Which way would you prefer to cross a city on foot:

1. A small alleyway, with a thousand thugs lounging in cafes around the city.
2. An equally small alleyway, with a dozen bloodthirsty thugs in the alley bent on stopping you.

KEI would lead you down the equally small alley…the one with very few keyword phrase competitors, but all right in your way, fighting hard for their high search engine rankings.  Is that what you want?  Of course not.  Keyword popularity is not the selection criteria that matters.  The SEO game is not a democracy…at least not yet, but that’s another story.
I had a sort-of related question from a client today:

Say for instance the word “tennis” was hyperlinked all over the web on all different pages and sites yet the links could be linking to 100’s of different places. Doesn’t that make the word “tennis” more competitive because other sites are trying to use it to increase their chances in trying to get it to show up in the search engines?

On the surface, her proposal made eminent sense, but it’s not the total volume that counts, rather the distribution.  Here was my response to her:

That depends.  If There are a million links with the word “tennis” in them, pointing somewhat evenly to 100,000 sites, the most any one site might have pointing would be, just for example, 20 or 25 links with the word “tennis”. On the other hand, there might be only 500,000 links with the word “badminton” in them, pointing to 100,000 sites, but skewed toward a dozen sites that have been battling it out for top rankings, each with 2000 – 10,000 inbound links with the word “tennis”.  It’s not the volume that counts, but the distribution.

Look very carefully at the top 10 ranking websites for a given search term at your favorite search engine…and how well-optimized those sites are for the keyword, how many inbound links they have, what the quality of those links appears to be, etc.  Don’t rely on the KEI formula or any other web-wide aggregate figures for keyword selection.


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This Blog Uses The DoFollow PlugIn

Thursday, February 15th, 2007

I love Loren Baker’s post on 13 Reasons Why NoFollow Tags Suck.  It goes right in line with my thinking when I posted the comments about Wikipedia and the NoFollow attribute, and the experiment to test the NoFollow attribute, with no stop-the-presses-results

I have said this many times before…the World Wide Web (www) works when linking is encouraged.  The Only One Orphan (ooo) works when linking is discouraged. Thanks to Loren for showing me the DoFollow WordPress Plugin.  If you post a comment here, you can be sure there will be no NoFollow attribute on your link.  

UPDATE February 2009: We have switched to the No Follow Free plugin, which seems to work better with the Intense Debate Plugin.  We have set the threshold at 5 comments.  So if you have commented more than five times, the DoFollow kckjs in…and no, firing off five quick comments all at one does not count.  This is a fully moderated blog.


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