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 ‘rankings’ Category

“There can be only one” Highlander and SEO

Friday, April 5th, 2013

I’ve written about how content marketing is cooperative. I’ve written about blogger collaboration and why it’s important to partner with fellow web marketers.

But there is one part of web marketing that is pure bloodsport: SEO. Ranking is search engines is a cut-throat fight to the death. So draw your sword and prepare for battle.

It’s just like the 1986 classic movie, Highlander. Just like immortal swordsmen, walking the earth, we all meet at the Gathering of the search results page. Hundreds of millions of times each day, Google is showing top 10 lists. And there’s only one spot at the top of Google for a given phrase. There can be only one…

Ranking high matters. A lot…

There’s more to life than marketing and more to marketing than search, but ranking high makes a big difference. just ask anyone who has ranked low and climbed or ranked high and fallen.

The top ranked site gets a lot more traffic than number two, and number two gets a lot more than number three. The correlation between rank and clicks is logarithmic. In other words, high ranking pages get exponentially more traffic than lower ranking pages.

Yes, before you decapitate me in the comments, I’ll agree that there are many other factors in clickthrough rates on search results pages, such as branding, relevance, rich snippets and Google Authorship. But generally speaking, higher rank means more clicks.

Source: Optify

Here are some tips that Ramirez might have taught Conner McCleod had they been search marketers:

  • Pick your battles. Don’t rush out and pick a fight with the Kurgen right away. Work your way up through smaller battles and less competitive keyphrases. It would be wonderful to rank for that high volume phrase, but the competition would skewer you.
  • Don’t get too attached. She might be pretty, but you shouldn’t get too hooked on one phrase, one social network, one tracking tool, one writer, one partner site. Someday you’ll have to say goodbye.
  • Never give up. Even if you’re not immortal, you need to be patient. Ranking high for a good phrase can be the work of years. But keep fighting. Trust, with search engines and humans, takes time to build.

Finally, here’s a top-rank tip that everyone can use:

Make sure you rank #1 for something…
Even if it’s a low-volume keyphrase that doesn’t drive much traffic, even if it’s a four-word phrase that people rarely search for, it’s good to rank first for something. It builds credibility off-line when you tell people you rank first in Google for “samurai sword identification expert.”

This is about thought leadership and personal branding. To make it work, focus efforts on one page with a highly relevant (but low search volume) phrase. Pay close attention to keyword researchand on-page SEO. If the phrase isn’t competitive, you’ll soon see yourself at the top of search results. If you add the two links that make Google Authorship possible, you’ll see your face right there in search results.

Now, when you talk about your business, use the phrase, smile and suggest that the listener search for it.

Ramirez: Patience, Highlander. You have done well. But it’ll take time. You are generations being born and dying. You are at one with all living things. Each man’s thoughts and dreams are yours to know. You have power beyond imagination. Use it well, my friend.

See you at the Gathering…

This post is the third in series of movie-themed web marketing posts. Check out Die Hard SEO and Coffee is for Bloggers.


 

Guest blogger Andy Crestodina is the Strategic Director of Orbit Media, a web design company in Chicago. He’s also the author of Content Chemistry, An Illustrated Guide to Content Marketing You can find Andy on and Twitter.

 


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Google is not fair (and is not meant to be)

Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

I was asked the following question recently about Google: “I still don’t understand how other sites post articles that are not original yet they do not get penalized?”

I am sure you have been asked this question many times.  Maybe you have asked it yourself many times.  I have certainly heard it posed in many different ways, why one site gets Panda slapped or Penguin slapped and not another.  As an SEO consultant myself, I have been amazed at how one site with a fairly good link profile, but with some “unnatural” links can get Google’s dreaded “unnatural links letter“, while another site with a much more questionable link profile doesn’t.

But sometimes you have to hear a question posed in many ways, many times before you get that Aha! moment when The Obvious Answer is revealed.  This was that moment.

The Obvious Answer

The Obvious Answer is actually a question: Why do some smokers live 100 years, while others are struck down by lung cancer at 43 or 47 or 54?

It’s just not fair.

Which bring us to the second part of The Obvious Answer: Life is not fair (as I keep telling my kids every time one of them screams out “It’s not fair!”)  And neither is Google.

Let’s review what Google’s ranking goal is, which I can assure you has nothing to do with fairness.  Google’s goal is to provide searchers with what will be most useful to them.  We use search engines to find what we want; Google does its best to deliver.  It does not always succeed (although it obviously does well enough, or we would all be using some other search engine).

My brother, the human search engine

I am reminded now of the purchasing habits of one of my brothers.  Once he takes an interest in buying something, he does endless research.  He is determined to find the best price.  He is determined to find the best features.  He is determined to find the most durable option.

But most of all, he is determined not to discover six days after buying something, that there is could have been an even slightly better option that he missed.

As a result, he often gets better deals than I do.  It’s not fair.

But even with all his research and delaying, he still might not get the very best option.  It’s not fair.

Which means that a vendor or manufacturer with something slightly better might still have missed a sale.  It’s not fair.

And that also means that a vendor or manufacturer got a sale he might not have gotten.  It’s not fair (but they are not complaining, right?).

And when Google ranks web pages, it’s not fair.  And it is not meant to be.  Google’s job, to once again restate the often overlooked or ignored obvious, is to provide searchers with what will be most useful to them.

What SEO is all about

So the job of SEO practitioners is…

Come on, what is the obvious answer?

You can do it.

To make sure our websites are the most useful to searchers.

Now I know that you will say that it is the designer’s and programmer’s jobs to make sure the website is most useful, functioning well, converting well, etc.  True enough.  But it is the SEO’s job to make sure that, for a given search term, the site actually delivers.  Obviously there is some overlap and cooperation required with the designer and the programmer on the technical front, but mostly the SEO needs to make sure the content is what searchers are looking for.

Relevant.

Important.

And, above all, useful.

And the SEO consultant has one additional job, besides making sure the content is most useful – and this is key – making sure the search engines know the content is the most useful.  It is about writing.  It is also about promoting. Yes, all the “content is king” and “quality over quantity” and “avoiding bad neighbourhoods” and “backlink strategies” can be distilled down to this very simple goal.

But what happens if Google doesn’t notice the right things?  What happens if Google does notice the wrong things?  What happens if somebody else is shouting louder?  What happens if someone else makes a more useful web page?  What if Google disagrees that your perfect page is best?

Like I said, it’s not fair.  It’s not supposed to be.  That is The Obvious Answer.

The Practical Answer

Of course, if you’ve been hit be a penalty, such as the “unnatural links letter” or just been demoted by a Penguin slap or hit by Google’s brand new EMD (exact match domain) artillery, and find yourself grumbling that it’s not fair, you will probably find “It’s not supposed to be.” a less than satisfying answer.

It is also a less than practical answer.

The practical answer is to avoid doing anything that the search engines might one day decide is spammy.  Yes, that is a whopper.

And quite impossible.

Once upon a time, you could not be penalized by who linked to you, only by who you linked to.  This made sense; it kept competitors from building piles of spammy links to your site – “negative SEO”.  But with Google’s Penguin and the “unnatural links letter”, times have changed.  Despite Google’s protests to the contrary, I cannot see how negative SEO can be stopped right now.

Not long ago, any publicity was good publicity.  If you could get a mention in the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal, that was amazing.  Still is.

But if you couldn’t get that kind of coverage, you could still spread your message through blog networks, article submissions, etc.  Much less targeted, much lower quality, much more of a shot in the dark.  But 100 percent legitimate.  Sometimes you market with a rifle, sometimes with a shotgun.  Fair enough?

But now if you market with a shotgun, Google will look at all those low quality repetitive links and down the sink goes your website.  No, it’s not fair.  Especially since it is retroactive, penalizing your site for doing in the past what used to make sense back then (and still would make sense if you don’t care about Google rankings).

So it is not always possible to predict what will get you in trouble, but it is pretty clear that quality over quantity is a good rule of thumb.  Stay away from anything mass-produced or mass-disseminated.  Avoid any get-rich-quick (get-links-quick) tactics.  Take the time to create original content – truly original content, not just rehashed repetition.

You still might get tripped up by suddenly changing algorithms.  Watch how Infographics get treated in a year or two. You still might find yourself at some point in the future grumbling “It’s not fair.”  But your odds of being on the winning side of the not-fairness will be much, much greater.

Additional advice? Hang on tight!

 

 

 


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How long does SEO take to get results?

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

From the SEO mailbag…

QUESTION: “I’m looking for SEO, how long does SEO take effect and get results?”

MY ANSWER:

Your question is a lot like how deep is a hole? How high is up? SEO is like a sport, and you are competing for various positions with others. Results could be a top 10 ranking for one search term. It could be a #1 ranking for three search terms. It could mean hundreds of things for any given site.

Even if you determine exactly what you mean by results, so much depends on exactly what the search terms are, how much money, time, effort and cleverness you put into the campaign and exactly what the search terms are, how much money, time, effort and cleverness each of your competitors put into the campaign.

Even if you can define all these things, the answer still would be a combination of “it depends” and “I don’t know”.

For certain, don’t expect to see any significant results before six months in a tourism niche. Your competition are already way ahead of you, and they are probably not just sitting on their duffs waiting for you to catch up.

(Related post: SEO FAQ)

YOUR ANSWER?

Would you have answered differently? Would you have answered the same? What are your thoughts. Please comment below. And please share on Twitter and FaceBook so we can get more perspectives.

 


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Occupy Google (radio satire)

Monday, October 24th, 2011

Google Doodles, beware! Today I will share with you an exclusive radio interview with Rankless Jones*, live at the scene of the “Occupy Google” protests.  After all, why occupy just a street, when you can occupy an entire website?

 


 

If Plan “B” is initiated, here are some of the unfortunate Google Doodles that we believe might be at risk, and are advised to take security precautions.

Vivaldi's birthday

 

Beijing Olympics

 

Google's 13th birthday

 

Art Clokey's 90th Birthday

 

The official first Google Doodle ever

 

The unofficial first Google Doodle ever

 

You can decide for yourself which Google Doodles are most likely to fall victim to the Occupy Google protests if the demands are not met, by visiting the Google Doodle Archive.

*Rankless Jones played by Chantalyne Leonhardt in her first international voice acting role.

 


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More on links from statistics websites

Monday, August 15th, 2011

A couple couple weeks ago, I wrote about links from statistics and valuation websites, and posed the question whether it is worthwhile paying five dollars to have one’s domain submitted to 5000 of them. You might want to read the post before continuing.

There was an interesting comment by Graeme, that said:

“Did you check how my of these sites already had a link to yours? If I search for any of my domain names I get lots of these that I have never asked to list me.”

This is a good question, but it is hardly the full question. Some of these sites have static pages, and might already be linking back to you. But many of these sites create the pages on request. You punch in a domain name, and they grab the information from authority stats sites like Alexa or Compete, or from search engines like Google or Baidu.

So in most cases, the answer is “no” – most of these sites were not already linking to the site I submitted.

But as I said, that is not really the full question.

Think about it for a moment.

Keep thinking…

Aha! That’s it. If the linking page exists only because I requested it, what happens when I leave? Does the page still exist? Or more to the point, is the page stored somewhere for the search engines to find it? Yeah, 280 links or so, but on pages that really exist? A few, perhaps, but not most.

So you probably think I am about to change my mind and poo-poo the $5.00 I spent on this? Not quite. You see, $5 for 100 or 300 or more links (we are not sure exactly how many, remember?) is actually a pretty good deal. Any professional SEO consultant knows how much time it can take and how many fails one has to go through building just a couple links. What if we could take the pages we created on the fly and freeze them in time? Or in space? Or in cyber space?

Here’s what you do:

  1. Check which of the pages actually have a live link to your domain.
  2. Save the list of those pages.
  3. Build links directly to those pages

How? Here are four ways, depending on your comfort level.

  • Create a page on your website just for “Hey, look who thinks they know what our website is worth”.
  • Use these URLs when making blog comments.
  • Include these URLs in article marketing and blog posting (The Free Traffic System is ideally set up for this.)
  • Try some social bookmarking; there are many minor social bookmarking sites that are not as particular as Digg and Reddit are.

When the links you create are spidered, the pages evaluating your domain “exist” for the search engines. Plus, they actually have some small amount of link juice, which probably places them in the top 1% of pages on the each site for link popularity. Remember that most of these pages link only to your website, not to 30 or 40 or 50 other websites on some link exchange page. The more link juice these pages get, the better for your website.

So, the big question I am sure you all want to know is whether there were actually any improvement in rankings as a result of this little experiment. Well, here are the results at Google, keeping in mind that no links have been built in to these pages.

Keyword One before: around #70 (I did not take an exact reading)
Keyword One after: #60 (a couple days ago, I saw this at #55)

Keyword Two before: around #70 (I did not take an exact reading)
Keyword Two after: #65 and #66

Keyword Three before: around #70 (I did not take an exact reading)
Keyword Three after: #59 and #60

So these readings are positive in that it appears the site climbed a bit for all three search terms, even adding an interior page to two of the searches. The movement, however, is not phenomenal and it is possible that it is explained by other factors. It will be interesting to see if there is further movement once some links are built into a few of these pages. I might just have to report back to you again…

 


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Fame Trumps SEO in Battle of David Leonhardt Rankings

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

All those of you with common first and last names like John Smith or Jessica Jones or Bob Johnson will appreciate how hard it is to rank for your personal brand – your name. There must be hundreds of people active on the Internet who share your name.

And any reader with a name like Drew Barrymore or Larry Page… well, you know the chances you’ll ever rank well for your name.

But perhaps the worst off are those with common first and last names who also share their name with a huge celebrity. Think Dan Brown or George Harrison or Megan Fox.

David Leonhardt Posers

Well, this is a personal story. If you search “David Leonhardt” right now, you will see there are three of us with the exact same name with a presence on the Internet. (Guess who the two imposters are.)

When I first started on the Internet, the guy with the domain name ranked #1 – DavidLeonhardt.com ranked at the top for “David Leonhardt”. In fact, the David Leonhardt Jazz Group held several top-10 rankings, as he was in fact the original David Leonhardt active on the Internet.

As I grew increasingly active, some pages related to me started to rank in Google’s top ten for my name. Yay!

But another dude who writes for the New York Times was also getting active, so he also was breaking into the top 10 in a big way.

This New York Times David Leonhardt was in fact causing problems for me offline, too. A friend saw his by-line in the Toronto Star (I think it was) and the topic was even related to my happiness book, and a friend thought it was my article.

Even worse, my brother saw one of his articles in the Globe and Mail (I think it was) and again the topic was related to my happiness book. This time my brother thought it was my article.

And just over a month ago, this New York Times guy who shares my name (never asked my permission, mind you) goes and wins himself the Pulitzer Prize for “Commentary”. Thanks a lot!

As anyone who reads this blog knows, I am all over on the Internet, commenting on blogs, active in social media, building links, networking – you don’t get more active than me.

And the winner is…

So let’s take a look at what Google thinks of all of us David Leonhardts. This is a snapshot at the time of writing…

1. New York Times writer
2. New York Times writer
3. New York Times writer
4. New York Times writer
5. New York Times writer
6. Me
7. Me
8. Jazz Group
9. Me
10. New York Times writer

What can we conclude by this case study?

We know that the domain name is important, as is anchor text – and surely the David Leonhardt Jazz Group has plenty of inbound links with “David Leonhardt” in the link text. (I did not check, but I do know he owns a number of other name-related domains specifically for wedding performances, etc.)

We also know that activity, inbound links, social media signals – all the stuff that I am doing just naturally every day (with a bit of SEO-savvy thrown in) are also important.

But it appears fame trumps SEO. New York Times David has six out of ten positions, including the top five. I am holding my own, sort of, perhaps down just a bit from my peak a couple years ago (I think I had as many as five spots at one point, including the third place ranking). And the once dominant Jazz Group David risks being pushed off the top 10 completely.

The lesson: If you want top rankings, get famous. Do things that win you real acclaim out in the real world, and Google will reward you on the Internet for your renown.

 


This post was featured in Book Marketing Blog Carnival – May 25, 2011.

 


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SEO Shotgun or SEO Rifle?

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

Or both?

For a huge website (ecommerce, directory, etc.) with many variations of the same product or service, whether by location or by brand, the effort to work individually on each one would be monumental.  For that reason, we often focus on:

a)   The home page, which is naturally where a fair number of links will have to go.

b)   A selection of the most important interior pages (such as those cities which might yield the best ROI) with a purposeful effort to help them rank better for relevant searches.

Some of the activities we do will help just those pages; some will help the entire site.  To understand this better, it helps to understand what types of ranking signals the search engines look for.  They include hundreds of specific signals, but most of them can be grouped as follows:

On-page relevance to a specific search query.

The changes we will make to the template(s) will bring benefits across the site to every page they apply.  In other words, even if we identify 10 city-specific pages on which to focus, every city-specific page will benefit.  If we add text or other elements on a page-by page basis, only the pages we work on will benefit.

Off-page relevance to a specific query.

Links that we obtain to 10 city-specific pages will often (but not always) confer relevancy.  The extent to which this occurs will depend on the content of the page that is linking, the anchor text of the link itself, and a number of other factors.  This relevancy is specific only to the page being linked to.  For instance, a link to the Chicago page of the website confers no relevancy to the London page.

Off-page importance/popularity.

Inbound links to a page also convey “importance” or “popularity”.  They represent a “vote” for the page in the eyes of the search engines.  That importance or that vote is specific to the page that is being linked to.  But, Google’s PageRank algorithm also spread the link-love to other pages that are directly linked. 

For instance, let us assume the Chicago page links directly to other Illinois city-specific pages, such as Rock Island, but not to any Florida city-specific pages.  If we obtain 20 links to the Chicago page, that will greatly boost the popularity of the Chicago page.  It will also boost the popularity of the Rock Island page, but not the Miami page (at least, not noticeably). 

This is why internal linking patterns for a big site like this are so important.

Domain credibility/authority/popularity

This is the exciting part.  Every quality link we build into the domain, strengthens the credibility/authority/popularity of the entire domain.  Every day the domain ages, strengthens the entire domain.  Every time a high-authority site links into the domain, every time there is a social media mention, every time the domain is renewed for a longer period of time…the entire domain – every page – benefits.

So the efforts we make for a few specific pages can benefit them all to some degree.  For a highly competitive sub-niche, that might not be enough.  For a smaller, less-competitive niche, the page might rank well without any direct attention to it.

 


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Google Lets Evil People Block Your Domain

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

Yeah, I thought that title would grab you.  Google announced a new extension to its Chrome browser, an extension that could truly rock the SEO World.  The extension does two things:

  1. It enables searchers to block domains from search results.
  2. It tells Google what domains have just been blocked.

chromeSays Google anti-spam spokesman Matt Cutts, ” If installed, the extension also sends blocked site information to Google, and we will study the resulting feedback and explore using it as a potential ranking signal for our search results.”

This blog post will tell you exactly how to preserve and enhance your search engine rankings in a world where users can send explicit feedback (this Chrome extension is neither the first tool for explicit feedback, nor will it be the last; but it might just be the most powerful, so far).

I should make it clear that I was always a big believer is both explicit and implicit user feedback.  The search engines would be fools not to pay attention to which sites please their visitors when serving up sites to new searchers.

It was just over two years ago that I released Sticky SEO, essentially detailing how you can keep more visitors longer on your website, going deeper into the site.  For the most part, this means pleasing more visitors even more than you already do, since that is what Google looks for.

So what do you do with this Chrome extension?  Well, you want to please your visitors so that they don’t swear, curse and block your domain.

PROBLEM # 1: FREE LOADERS

Searching for free tattoos?  Probably not.
Searching for free tattoos?
Probably not.

There are a lot of people searching for free stuff on the Internet.  You don’t give your stuff away free, but the “free loaders” show up at your website.  “What?  They want a million bucks to dig a hole to China?  I want someone to do it for free.  Bloody rip-off scammers.  Block, block, block.”

There are probably not too many people searching for “dig a hole to China” and expecting free service.  Nor are there many people expecting to get new shoes for free.  Nor gourmet coffee or gift baskets.  Nor metal buildings or intercontinental pipeline installation.  Not even free tattoos or body piercing. But there many niches that include freebie searchers,  for example…

  • website templates
  • resume help
  • music downloads
  • ringtones
  • online games
  • learn Spanish

How do you make sure that people searching for freebies don’t block your website when they discover that you are one of those evil profit-seeking cannibals who wants to feed your family?  You give them what they want, of course.  You add something free to your site.  You give them a free option, or you link to a free option.  Somehow, you make sure you please them.  Remember what your mother said?  “You can never go wrong being nice to someone.”  Well, she should have said that.

PROBLEM # 2: GENERALISTS

Let’s say you sell a very specific item or service that is part of a bigger niche, but people don’t search all that specifically.  In Sticky SEO, on page 14 (until I eventually get around to updating it), I tell the tale of a client who wanted to revamp its website back in 2006.  They sold commercial fitness equipment, but their clients would search just for “fitness equipment”.  The problem was that ten times as many people looking for home gyms also searched for “fitness equipment”.

Life would be easy if people searched for “home fitness equipment”  or “commercial fitness equipment”, but life wasn’t meant to be easy.  What would they do about all this traffic from generalist searchers?

Please them, of course.  Remember what your mother said?  “You can never go wrong being nice to someone.”  Like I said, she should have said that…especially if she knew Google was going to give all those people an easy way to block your domain and tell Google your site sucks.

How to please those generalists?  No point in reprinting page 14 here.  You can read it for yourself.  (Hey, it’s a free download.  Did you think this was a sneaky sales pitch or something?)

Your evil competition wants to eat you.

Evil competitors want Google to eat you.

PROBLEM # 3: EVILDOERS

Yes, the world is an evil place if you look at it right.  Google’s motto is “Do no evil” (or something like that.  But they never said anything about not arming your competition to do evil, did they?  How much do you want to bet that across the Internet’s freelancer markets there will be an SEO arms trade: “100 domain blocks for $15 – from separate IPs in over 20 countries”?  Maybe for $25, who knows?

So how do you deal with that?  No inbound link is supposed to hurt your rankings, so that your competition can’t spam you out of the search results.  But what if a coordinated group of offshore outsourcing in China and India and Greenland gang up on you?

Sorry, I don’t have an answer for you on this one.  But I am sure Matt Cutts will be asked about it sooner or later, and maybe he will have an answer.  Hopefully.

 


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SEO FAQ – Answers to your SEO questions

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

I don’t usually participate in memes, but this SEO FAQ meme interests me… and I hope it will interest you.  By way of introduction this SEO FAQ: 30+ SEO questions you always wanted an answer to was started by Berlin-based SEO specialist, Tad Chef.  He has challenged at least 10 other SEO specialists to create FAQs that will outrank “fake” SEO FAQs for the search term SEO FAQ.

 

So without further ado, here are the 31 questions he proposed, with my answers inserted:

 

  1. What does SEO stand for? Usually it stands for Search Engine Optimization, but it is often used also for Search Engine Optimizer.  This can get somewhat confusing – an SEO who practices SEO – so I prefer to call SEOs “SEO specialists”.  (Not “SEO experts”, but that’s another rant for another day.)
  2.  

  3. What is SEO? I define SEO as the combination of steps that lead to improved (higher) rankings in the search engines’ organic (non-paid) listings.
  4.  

  5. Is SEO spam, bullshit, dead etc.? No, but if you expect it to be science, you will likely think it is all of the above.  SEO is much more sport than science – multiple players competing for specific, limited rankings for each keyword.  Think about all the goes into a sports champion – drive, training, strength, agility, equipment, discipline, player size, nutrition, coaching, funding, concentration, massage therapy…  Neither the team that wins the Stanley Cup nor the athlete who brings home the gold medal for diving is tops for all these factors.  The champion is the one that assembles the best combination.  No matter how well you and your competitors do SEO, there will always be ten websites in the top ten.  No matter how poorly  you and your competitors do SEO, there will always be ten websites in the top ten.   Somebody will always be tops – in tennis, in boxing, in bowling and in SEO; you just have to be better than each of your opponents.  
  6.  bikebowling

    SEO is a sport.  Just like bowling, only less dangerous.

  7. Why aren’t we #1 or on page 1 at Google? Because somebody else is.  Read the answer to Question #3 above.
  8.  

  9. Why am I on #1 all the time but when my wife searches for me she doesn’t find me? Often people searching from different computers are sending different geographic data to the search engines (such as a different location for a person’s home and workplace ISP).  Or there are elements of personal search enabled.  Or your wife lives in a different time zone.
  10.  

  11. When will we see results? You start a new softball team with all rookies, no equipment, no training, no funding, no discipline, no muscles and no massage therapist.  Then you hire an experienced coach (an SEO specialist).  How long does it take to win the championship?  I have found many clients want to know exactly when they will achieve a certain position, and then they will own it.  Just as the team that stops playing baseball will fall in the standings, so too the website that stops doing SEO will fall in the rankings.
  12.  

  13. Can we rank for iPhones? Yes.  You can rank at least 2,112,888 for iphones at most search engines with very little effort.  If you want to rank #1 for iphones, you will need:
  14.  

    - lots of money

    - lots of time

    - lots of strategy

     

    Why?  Please read the answer to Question #3 again.

     

  15. Can we rank for everything (huge list of keywords)? Yes, some countries take home Olympic medals in a wide variety of sports.  But most countries take home medals in just a few sports where they have chosen to concentrate.  In the land of Internet, deciding how big a country you are – or can realistically be – is an important strategic decision.  Indeed, if you hire an SEO specialist, he should be able to help you make that call.  Just remember, the more searches you want to rank for, and the more competitive those searches are, the deeper pockets you will need.
  16.  

  17. How much does SEO cost?  How much does a baseball coach cost?  The little league team down by the park pays their coach with a big High Five after every game.  Rumor has it the New York Mets pay theirs slightly more.  It all depends on what you are competing against, how determined or entrenched your competitors are, and how good an SEO specialist you wish to hire.
  18.  

  19. Why is SEO so expensive? It’s not.  SEO is an investment that earns you money.  But if you plan to invest just $200/month in SEO, don’t expect to see any ROI during your lifetime.
  20.  

  21. How long does it take to get indexed by Google? Just a few minutes, but really the practical answer is that it doesn’t matter.
  22.  

  23. How to submit my new site to Google/Bing/Yahoo etc.?  I can’t answer any better than Tad did in the original meme post: “You don’t submit sites to search engines these days. You link to them from already indexed sites, you ping them via blog posts and or you submit an XML sitemap.”
  24.  

  25. How do I submit to 1000 search engines? By allowing yourself to get sucked in by a scammer.  It’s actually quite easy, and really quite painless because they only fleece you for a small amount and you learn such a valuable lesson.
  26.  

  27. Do I need an XML sitemap? Most sites do not.  Generally, only sites with thousands of pages spread multiple levels deep really need them.
  28.  

  29. Do I need meta tags for SEO? Meta tags have nothing to do with SEO, unless you need to instruct the search engines not to index or to follow a certain page (which is better done via a robots.txt file). Meta tags are still a good idea  (to increase click-through rates, to get listed in some directories, etc.), but they are not a requirement for SEO.
  30.  

  31. Do I need a high PageRank for SEO? The tighter the competition for your searches, the more important every factor is, including a high PageRank and the size of your site (I added site size for the benefit of visitors from Question 27).  Please reread the answer to Question #3. PageRank is one factor, probably a fairly important one, but there are many others that are extremely important, too.  (Related post on why PR0 links are sometimes worthwhile)
  32.  

  33. What is linkbait? It is any content you put on your site in the hopes that some other websites will link to it.  Interesting history about this.  The proper name for it is “magnetic content”, a name I gave to it before someone more famous than me started calling it link-bait and now I won’t get the movie rights.
  34.  

  35. Can’t my niece who is a graphic designer do the SEO? Absolutely.  Why just last week I asked my brother-in-law, the plumber, to flush out my arteries.
  36.  

  37. Can’t my nephew who is a web developer do the SEO? Absolutely.  Why just last week I asked my brother-in-law, the plumber, to flush out my arteries.
  38.  

  39. Can my son-in-law who is a Perl, Java and C programmer do my SEO? You really are not getting this, right?  SEO is a specialty that requires both planning in advance and judgment calls on the fly.  I have seen situations where any of these people have made unfortunate judgment calls that have gotten websites banned from Google or Yahoo because they thought they knew SEO (In fact, they did know SEO, or at least 20% or 30% of it, and a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing.).
  40.  

  41. Why should I outsource my SEO? It’s pretty much a full-time job to keep up on the changing landscape of the web.  Outsourcing or having a dedicated in-house team are your best two options.
  42.  

  43. Can’t I just use WordPress plus plugins for SEO? Can’t I just buy good hockey equipment for my team?  Please, please reread Question #3..
  44.  

  45. Does Google hate SEO?  I like Tad’s answer in the original meme post, so this is what he said: “No, Google even offers SEO advice and a plethora of SEO tools itself. It’s an ages old myth that Google fight SEOs. In fact the Google employees and SEO practitioners speak at the same conferences and work together as business partners. Most SEO companies are big clients of Google as they also buy PPC ads from Google.”
  46.  

  47. Does SEO mean optimization for search engines spiders not humans? First, what Tad said: “Some people still assume that SEO is used to please search bots only. Most reputable SEO experts advocate search engine optimization for users.” Next, let me add that an important part of SEO these days is drumming up interest in your content so that you get talked about on blogs and in social media (and in offline media).  While speaking to the search engines’ algorithms is crucial, you ignore human beings at your peril.  You might also want to refer to my SEO thesaurus post.
  48.  

  49. Is buying links, hidden text, IP delivery etc. black hat SEO? I consider them all black hat, except buying links.  I very rarely recommend purchasing a link, partly because the “purchase” is in fact a rental.  And partly because the search engines frown on it, which is a bone I have to pick with the search engines (but that’s another rant for another day).
  50.  

  51. Is black hat SEO legal? Yes.  So are evil-looking smiles and teensy-weensy fine print.  I don’t practice black hat SEO because I value my clients’ long-term welfare, but it’s not illegal.
  52.  

  53. Does site size matter? Yes.  See the answer to Question 16 for elaboration.
  54.  

  55. Do domain extensions (top level domains  like .com, co.uk) matter? For the most part, I do not believe TLDs make a difference.  But if your business targets the clientele of a certain country, they do.  I have a number of Canadian clients, and having a .ca TLD makes a big difference ranking at Google.ca .  TLD matters even more for increasing your click-through rate. If you plan to serve Hungarians, you had better have a .hu TLD, or you won’t get anyone to even click on your site.  In Latin America, .com often says “impressive and credible International website”; in Europe .com often says ‘Yuck, an American site.”
  56.  

  57. Do nofollow links count? Yes, they count less than DoFollow links because they don’t pass on PageRank.  PageRank is something, but it is not everything.  Please refer to the answer to Question 16 and also to this NoFollow/DoFollow post.
  58.  

  59. Do you offer PageRank optimization, search engine submission, meta tag optimization? No.  Why not re-read the answer to Question 13?
  60.  

  61. Is blog commenting for SEO spam? This has been debated widely and bloggers are all over the map on this.  On my blog, I look almost exclusively at the quality of the comment and what it adds to the conversation.  Only if the comment is borderline will I consider whether the name makes the comment spammyish or not (So John Block has a better chance of having his comment approved than John the Florida Villas Guy, but if he makes a really great contribution to the discussion, John the Florida Villas Guy is welcome here) .

 

One final note…if others in this meme wish to link to this page, please do so and let me know, so I can also link back to your answers and connect the meme participants.  SEO is not a science, so there are certainly many items where different specialists will offer different strategies and therefore different answers to a number of these questions.

 


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The Newest Oldest SEO Tool

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

The latest SEO tool is not an automated submission device or some web page analyzing script.  It’s the thesaurus on your desktop.  No thesaurus?  Better get one soon.  Google has just announced that it has made great advancements in reading synonyms.

While even a small child can identify synonyms like pictures/photos, getting a computer program to understand synonyms is enormously difficult, and we’re very proud of the system we’ve developed at Google.

What does this mean for you?

Thesaurus

If you are optimizing for “real estate Kentucky”, you had better not leave off related search words like “homes”, “property”, etc.  These words will be treated as synonyms of “real estate”, and “real estate” will be treated as synonyms of them.  More variations – in other words, more synonyms – looks a lot more like natural language than the forced language of always using the same word just for SEO purposes.

It also means that one website can easier dominate a niche across several searches.  For instance, a page with a great link profile that was ranking very high for “real estate Kentucky” due to an astounding backlink profile, but was ranking at 100 for “Kentucky property”, might suddenly become competitive for “Kentucky property”.  This is just an uneducated hunch, but I suspect that the strength of your backlink profile could help you greatly with searches for synonyms of the terms you are actually optimizing for.

In any case, this is good news for searchers, since their true intent is more likely to be satisfied.  As web marketers, we also want to satisfy them, so make sure you use natural language with a generous use of that thesaurus – both on-page and in the text of your backlinks.

 


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