David Leonhardt’s SEO and Social Media Marketing

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



Archive for the ‘SEO’ Category

BrowseRank Strategies – Quality Web Site Design

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008

A few days ago I reported on how BrowseRank goes beyond PageRank to rank websites according to user behavior.  Modern search engines tend to rank websites by relevancy and importance, and of course their algorithms can be gamed.  The concept of BrowseRank, which I have been mentioning to clients already for two years, would add a third and almost more important measurement – usefulness.  This, too, can be gamed.  However, most of the gaming would also work to your visitor’s advantage, so the Web will be a better place for it. 

In preparation for BrowseRank and perhaps other search engine measures of website usefulness, this is the first in a series of posts that will help you make your website appear useful in the eyes of the search engines.  You will probably find that these are things you should be doing anyway to increase conversions and profits, but that is not my area of expertise, so here we will look at them from an SEO perspective.

STRATEGY #1 – Design a website that says “Quality” the minute a visitor lands there.

This might seem soooooo obvious, but it needs to be said.  As obvious as it might seem, I come daily across dozens of websites that say “Amateur” or “Crap”.  Here are a few tips to make your website look like a professional website that can be trusted.

  1. Get a professional design that looks at least somewhat modern and in a style that suits your products and target audience.
  2. Lose the square corners.  Some corners are OK, but if your design is based on boxes, it looks like a basement job.
  3. No Adsense-type ads.  Yuck! Honestly, that is the biggest sign of a low-quality website.  A run of Adsense across the bottom is not bad, but the more prominent the PPC ads the cheaper the site appears.  By the way, ads are OK.  The more they look like content or part of the website, the better.  Adsense style ads just look cheap.
  4. Keep it clean.  Clutter looks as bad on a website as it looks here on my desk.  (But I don’t have a webcam to display this disaster to the world, so don’t display a mess on your website!)
  5. Make sure your web pages look good in various browsers and in various screen resolutions.  If 70% of people see a superb website and the other 30% see garbled images and text, they will bounce back to the search engine … which tells the engine that your website is not very useful (and it isn’t if it can’t easily be read by 30% of searchers).
  6. Make sure your website is available, which means good hosting.  I am never shy about recommending Phastnet web hosting.  This blog is hosted there and I have been migrating my sites to them over the years because of the five-star service I get when I need it.
  7. Make sure your code is working properly.  Seeing a PHP error makes the site look broken.  I don’t buy from someone who might be selling me broken goods.
  8. Avoid overly flashy design.  If your visuals call attention to themselves and distract from your message, you will lose people.
  9. Avoid automatic audio playing.  I can guarantee you that 99% of people browsing from a cubicle, as well as others in shared space, will zip back to the search engine in no time flat.  That sends a pretty bad signal to the search engines.
  10. Nix the cover page, especially one that shows a slide show on start-up.  And if you think people can easily scroll to the bottom to click the “skip intro”, it’s easier still to click the “back” button and choose a new website that does not place a barrier to its visitors.

Those are my top 10 web design tips for helping visitors see quality in your website.  Please feel free to add to this list in the comments below. Following these tips is not enough to make them stay on your website, but at least they won’t leave because the design scares them away.  In future “episodes”, I will share with you some additional strategies to help the search engines view your website as “useful”.

I would be remiss if I did not mention that we have some top quality SEO web designers on our team.  :-) 


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SEO Secret – how to get more value from your SEO consultant

Friday, August 29th, 2008

One of our SEO clients is getting more than her money’s worth.  In fact, I should be charging her gobs more money than I am, but she is getting a whole lot extra work for free. 

How does she do it?  Am I a sucker?  Maybe I am, but there is a method to her madness, even if she does not know it.

You see, the biggest complaint from professional SEO consultants is that clients do not follow up on their recommendations.  A company might pay anywhere form $1000 to $50,000 for an SEO consultant to review their website and make recommendations, ready to follow up with additional action, but… but… but…nothing happens.  In one survey of SEOs, 60% were frustrated by lack of follow-up by the client.  This not only wastes the company’s consulting dollars, but it often prevents the SEO consultant from doing anything further to advance the company’s rankings.

My client, the one I mentioned above, is just the opposite.  She eagerly seeks out information and I swear she passes what we call in French “nuits blanches” (look it up) following through and coming back with more questions, ideas and follow-through.  It makes her project exciting and, yes, she gets more out of me than she is paying for.

You know that old adage “You get out of life what you put in”?  It works for SEO consultants, too…at least those who get passionate about what they are doing.  So my question for anyone reading this who plans to hire an SEO consultant, are you passionate about your website?  Will you get your SEO consultant to be just as passionate about it?


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SEO definitions

Friday, June 27th, 2008

If you are new to SEO, you might be flabbergasted by all the definitions. For instance, just what is a 3-way link exchange? To me, it is a futile attempt by some webmasters to pretend they are smarter than both the algorithm engineers at Google and Google’s awesome computing power. Speaking of algorithm, do you know what that is?

I have found a great resource for SEO newbies that explains these and many more SEO terms in very simple, straightforward language. Check out the simple SEO definitions here.


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Importance of Deep Linking

Monday, June 23rd, 2008

I like how Peter Lee of Work From Home Business Blog explains the benefits of deep linking:

those that go directly to a site’s internal pages and are quite different from your normal generic links. They specifically relate to user’s goals and objective in business and therefore enhances usability, which can double your sales on average.

He goes on to explain what to do to make that deep-linked page a good landing page for the whole website, including the name of the website, and easy click to the home page and an accessible search box to find anything else on the website. This makes every page is a window to the entire website.

Here is where to read more about this deep link strategy. Don’t let the dancing bananas throw you; the post is meaty indeed.


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LinkedIn for SEO

Friday, May 23rd, 2008

In addition to being a great website for networking and reputation management, LinkedIn can also serve as a valuable SEO asset. Your profile allows 3 links to your websites. Use them. A few tips for making your profile rank better within LinkedIn, and most likely with external search engines, too.

  • Complete your profile to 100%
  • Join some groups
  • Build a large contact list
  • Recommend your contacts
  • Ask your friends to recommend you
  • When commenting on blogs, make your LinkedIn profile sometimes the URL for your comment

This is also a great way to create a very credible page that will rank well for your name, including great positive recommendations in your favor. See more about this in my post on SEO tactics for reputation management.

You can view my profile at LinkedIn: David Leonhardt. Note, I am only connecting to people I actually know and have worked with.


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Reputation Management – more than just SEO

Friday, May 16th, 2008

A couple days ago I blogged about SEO for reputation management.  Today, as I was reading Kimberly Bock’s blog, I was reminded by her It All Comes Out In The Wash post of all the work that goes into protecting one’s reputation before it ever gets to the point where an SEO defense is needed. 

Reputation management starts with communicating your values and sticking to them.  It means being the reputation you want to have.  If you want to be seen as a square dealer, you have to be one.  If you want to be known for excellence, you better have excellence.  SEO is a protection against the odd fool who will strike as the good and the bad alike.


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SEO tactics for reputation management

Wednesday, May 14th, 2008

There is nothing more precious than your reputation. What happens when one jealous ex-lover, disgruntled employee or unsatisfied customer decides to get nasty and post something snarky on the Internet about you. And horror of horrors, it shows up #4 at Google or Yahoo when somebody searches for your name or your business name?
That’s when you need an SEO campaign for reputation management. While every campaign is unique, there are a few key steps you should take.

  1. Make sure your own website comes up first.If you have more than one website, first and second is even better.
  2. Maximize the reach of your website(s); optimize two pages on each to show up in the results.
  3. Analyze those positive web pages already in the top 20 for your name and determine which ones could have an extra page optimized for your name.
  4. Analyze which positive web pages already in the top 20 for your name and determine which ones could be pushed above any negative pages through changes to the pages or through link-building.
  5. Analyze those neutral web pages already in the top 20 for your name and determine which ones could be made positive.
  6. Analyze those negative web pages already in the top 20 for your name and determine which ones could be made positive.
  7. Create, optimize and promote profile pages at popular user-generated content websites, such as Squidoo, MySpace and StumbleUpon.
  8. Create blogs in your name. If your main SEO goal is how your name or business name comes up in the search engine, host your blog at BlogSpot and/or WordPress.

Depending on your unique situation, there might be numerous other tactics you can use, as well. This list should help you get started if you want to do it yourself, or if you wish, we can help you with your online reputation management SEO campaign.


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NoFollow “Neutered” Links On Wikipedia Are Now Pink!

Friday, May 9th, 2008

It was not all that long ago that I wrote how Wikipedia should be spanked for using the NoFollow attribute on all external links. 


Just by way of history, NoFollow is an attribute the search engines approved to help combat blog comment link spam.  The problem was that so many bloggers were too lazy to moderate comments, that tons of spammy links were being created in blog comments around the world and this was skewing search engine results.  NoFollow neuters any link it is applied to, so bloggers were encouraged to place it on any links they could not vouch for. 

So many blogging programs made NoFollow the default setting for external links.  For instance, this blog uses WordPress, and I had to apply the DoFollow plugin to un-neuter comment links.  Most bloggers have no clue about this and unwittingly act as agents of Web neutering.

However, the opposite problem has since happened, that billions of legitimate links have the NoFollow attribute applied to them, since most bloggers are not even aware of the NoFollow attribute.  And then Wikipedia, one of the top authorities who weighs its external links more carefully than anyone, applied the NoFollow attribute to all external links.  Arguably, by removing the most carefully scrutinized links on the Internet from the search engine algorithms, Wikipedia has skewed the search results as much as any spammy blackhat SEO tactic ever could.

And I still say they should be spanked.  :)


Now you can easily see NoFollow links, whether created by laziness, unawareness or nastiness.  This is very helpful when deciding the SEO value of any participation on the Web.  Needless to say, SEO is a factor in much of what I do online, so these tips can come in handy. In fact there are two ways, one of which worked on my computer and one of which did not.  Both require FireFox, which is a very handy browser for SEO work.

The first way is by a handy little hack, which has worked for a lot of people, but for some reason it does not like me.  The hack is good because it can be manually controlled in all sorts of way (except, obviously, by me).  TDavid explains the Firefox NoFollow highlight hack quite well here.  Cheerfully, he seems to be even less of a fan of Wikipedia’s NoFollow chop-chop than I am!

The other way, which worked well on my computer, is a plugin called SearchStatus, which, among other handy tools, makes all NoFollow links show up pink in my FireFox browser window.  Here is a screenshot to show you just an example.  This is from a page from — you guessed it! — Wikipedia.  Click the image for a larger view.  See how pink it is?

Wikipedia, consider yourself spanked!


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More on Blogs, RSS and SEO

Friday, May 9th, 2008

A couple days ago I wrote about how blogs are good for SEO.  Today, I would like to offer one additional reason.


RSS helps your SEO efforts in two ways.  First, you can submit your feed to RSS-specific directories, and that of course brings a number of links to yet another page on your domain.  That is good, especially for a new website that lacks the credibility to be referenced in blogs and portals, and lacks the link-juice most link-exchange partners seek.  One caveat is that some RSS directories will accept only tried and true feeds, so you might have to go back a year later when you have proven yourself.

In addition to the link-juice that RSS offers, if your content is good and you take your blog seriously, those RSS directories should generate traffic.  The number of people who take advantage of RSS feeds is small, but these are Internet diehards.  These are people with voracious appetites for information and are more likely to buy over the Internet than the typical surfer.   Many of them are bloggers themselves who use RSS as a means of gathering research and ideas quicker than by surfing.  Exposing your blog feed to them is a great way to build the best links of all – natural ones that your website earns because of its superior content.

Content alone won’t win the SEO battle.  But content publicized can.  And RSS is a means of publicizing.


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Why blogs are good for SEO

Monday, May 5th, 2008

Just a few reasons why a blog is a great tool for SEO.

  • Fresh content – the search engines love that.
  • Growing website – the search engines love that, too.
  • Multiple variations of keywords to attract highly-targeted long-tale searchers.
  • Highly relevant pages from which to link into the main pages of your website.
  • Keeps you in touch with your topic, not just the technicalities of SEO.
  • You can submit your blog to blog-specific directories, providing extra link love.
  • You can easily trade content, not just links.
  • Assuming you can generate even a modest amount of traffic for your blog, you can get links to individual posts through social bookmarking (especially if you have a tool like TheBookmarketer at the bottom of each post, as I do).
  • Blog open doors to real-people networking on the Internet, and that is always helpful when it comes to link-building and other forms of collaboration, such as blogrolls and webrings.

There are probably a few dozen more reasons why blogs are good for SEO, so why not post your favorite reasons in the comments section below?


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